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'Like hell' cybersecurity isn't infrastructure

A ransomware attack that hit New Orleans last December has already cost the city $7.2 million, a figure that's expected to grow as it continues to recover and rebuild its computer systems. But speaking last week at a U.S. Conference of Mayors event, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the incident served as confirmation of a warning she gave her city council last summer, when members questioned whether cybersecurity funding belonged in a budget for critical infrastructure. “I said, ‘like hell it isn’t’,” she recalled. Benjamin Freed spoke with Mayor Cantrell.

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Code for America founder to step down

Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka announced Friday she will step down as the organization’s executive director Jan. 31, a decade after launching the civic-tech group that’s helped state and local governments develop their digital services. In a blog post, Pahlka, who will remain a member of the organization’s board of directors, wrote that she plans to focus on a “smaller set of priorities where we believe I add the most value.” Pahlka, who previously stepped away from the organization for a yearlong stint as the deputy federal CTO, had announced last May that Code for America was looking for a new chief executive officer. Ben has more.

Vermont names former IBM executive as new chief data officer

The Vermont Agency of Digital Services on Friday announced it has hired Kristin McClure, a former IBM executive, as the state's new chief data officer. McClure, who started Jan. 13, succeeded Andrew Laing, who stepped down after six years with the state government for a job with a private consulting firm. In an interview with StateScoop, McClure said she intends to focus on improving data governance, data operations, data insights and the the how the state communicates that information. Colin Wood reports.

Pitt think tank to review ethics of algorithms in local governments

A think tank at the University of Pittsburgh last week formed a task force to review how the surrounding local governments use computer algorithms to inform policy decisions. The Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms, run out of Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, will spend the next year considering if the algorithms the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County use to determine policing and housing policies are inherently biased. Ben has the story.

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