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Data officers have big jobs in the pandemic

Big cities like Seattle and New York are at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak because of their high population densities, which helps the virus spread faster. But lots of people also means lots of data, and government’s chief data officers have important roles to play in making government more efficient during emergencies, said Kate Garman, the former director of Seattle's smart-city program. As of Thursday, the United States had more than 13,000 confirmed cases, including 3,000 in New York City, but figuring out which neighborhoods are hotspots and tracing the steps of people who test positive is a job that the city’s roster of open data coordinators could help with, Garman said. “[Large cities] often have a data network, usually across most departments,” she said. “So it would be really easy for them to lead — drawing information from city departments or to send it out and ask for requests for data in real time.” Ryan Johnston reports.

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Governors ask DHS for a Real ID extension

The National Governors Association this week asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to delay for at least one year the deadline for states to adopt the new Real ID standards for identification cards, citing the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and the disruption it’s brought to state governments. In a letter dated Tuesday, the NGA asked that the federal government push back its requirement that by Oct. 1, every U.S. resident boarding an airplane or entering a federal facility have a driver’s license or other form of identification that complies with the Real ID standards, or a federally issued document such as a passport or military identification card. But with people sheltering in their homes to avoid spreading the coronavirus and many states’ responses including the shuttering of agencies — like motor-vehicle departments — governors are asking for a reprieve. Benjamin Freed has more.

Louisiana drops fees on digital IDs

In yet another attempt by government to encourage social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that the state’s digital driver’s license mobile app is now free to use. The governor said the state will waive the usual $5.99 fee to sign up for the service, called LA Wallet, which allows users to display a legal driver’s license or identification card for any age-verification request, including from law enforcement. The app also allows users to renew their licenses and perform other functions online, without needing to visit a physical state Office of Motor Vehicles, though they remain open. “There have been many disruptions to our daily lives as we try to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, and I want to thank LA Wallet for doing their part to make life a little easier for the people of our great state. Louisianans are resilient and we will get through this together," Edwards said. Colin Wood reports.

StateScoop 50 Awards open for voting

Voting is now open for the 2020 StateScoop 50 Awards! Cast your vote today to recognize and celebrate the top 50 leaders in the state government community. The annual StateScoop 50 Awards honor the best and the brightest who make state government more efficient and effective, including people and organizations making strides in innovation, cybersecurity and service delivery. The awards will be presented during NASCIO's year-end conference in Minneapolis this October. Vote now!

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