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Customize your street-closure maps

The Chicago Department of Transportation announced this week a new feature in its online infrastructure map that allows users to subscribe to alerts signaling road closures, restoration projects and events around the city. The ChiStreetWork website, which launched in April 2019 through a partnership with Google and the software and consulting firm SADA Systems, allows users to draw digital boundaries around parts of Chicago they’d like to receive notifications about. The website already allows users to search by ward, neighborhood, intersection or street address to learn about restoration projects or any permit-required event happening in the city. “The solution is bringing together, in a more integrated fashion, how agencies are aware of when things get open, what happens and then, more importantly, communicating to the citizen in a more integrated fashion," Todd Schroeder, Google’s director of public sector digital strategy, told StateScoop. Ryan Johnston reports.

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Vote-by-mail to avoid coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus spreading across the United States has already made its mark disrupting public activities like conferences and sporting events. It's also occurring in the middle of a nationwide election when millions of people are going to polling places to cast their ballots. On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., proposed a decidedly low-tech solution to keep up voter participation at a time when people are self-quarantining and being told to stay away from public gatherings: requiring states to offer voting by mail. Vote-by-mail is already the standard in four states and an increasingly popular option in 27 others, but applying it nationwide would take a big, though far from impossible, logistical lift.   Benjamin Freed digs in.

The CIO's coronavirus duties

As the spread of the novel coronavirus worsens, organizations will have to make decisions about how they will continue activities if the ongoing outbreak forces them to temporarily close offices and send workers home. That includes state and local governments, which need to keep their workers safe and healthy, while also minimizing interruptions to their operations as they delivery critical services to the public. Both the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and Public Technology Institute, which focuses on local IT, are advising their members to be prepared in case government employees have to work remotely for extended periods of time, while also ensuring that critical services related to public health remain operational. “People expect state government to be at its best when life is at its worst,” said NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson. Ben and Ryan have more.

Study: Governments struggle against more frequent and sophisticated ransomware

The ransomware attacks that have plagued state and local governments for the past several years continue to grow more frequent and sophisticated, while government organizations struggle to be prepared for and resilient against these incidents, a new study by the consulting firm Deloitte argues. The report’s findings can be chalked up to to three factors: governments’ lack of preparedness, small IT budgets and a limited workforce. It also notes that some threat actors, like the gang behind the Ryuk malware, have been stepping up its attacks against public-sector entities because several victims have used cyber insurance policies to pay ransoms instead of rebuilding and strengthening their IT infrastructure. It's rough out there.

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