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New York creates 'SWAT teams' for pandemic IT

New York State’s Office of Information Technology Services said Tuesday it is recruiting non-governmental technology professionals to assist with with the IT needs posed by the state’s massive response to the ongoing pandemic caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Dubbed “COVID-19 Technology SWAT Teams,” groups of technologists will be tasked with building solutions to the many issues raised by the health crisis, including ensuring people confined to their homes can still access state services and providing support for the emergency hospital facilities that are being deployed. Officials declined to name any specific projects that the first teams will address, but their work is expected to help facilitate broader coronavirus testing and deliver digitally social services like unemployment insurance. Employees of Google and Microsoft are among those who have already volunteered, according to ITS. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Connecticut hires a new CISO

Jeff Brown, a private-sector IT security veteran, began Wednesday as the new chief information security officer for the State of Connecticut, officials said. Brown has held information security positions at several major financial corporations, including AIG, GE Capital, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Connecticut CIO Raymond told StateScoop that Brown is essentially the state’s first chief information security officer; the state previously employed a chief cyber risk officer, Art House, whose role was more about being a public-facing evangelist for better cybersecurity. Like just about everyone else in Connecticut, though, Brown is working from home right now: "We outfitted him with technology and sent him out to remote work,” Raymond said. Colin Wood has more.

Critics say FCC's broadband relief efforts 'ring hollow'

On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined the measures he’s taken to make it easier for people to access broadband internet during the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions of people working, learning and receiving health care at home, but some experts say the agency hasn’t been been urgent enough in connecting rural Americans. Pai, a former Verizon lobbyist, said earlier this month that more than 550 carriers had told the FCC that they would not terminate service, impose late fees or restrict Wi-Fi hotspots to residential or small business customers for the next 60 days. But some broadband advocates were not convinced. “Although Pai's statement uses the word 'act' nine times, ironically, he proposes no new action,” read a letter from the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society. “The coronavirus pandemic isn’t making broadband essential — it’s exposing that it always was and turning up the urgency of connecting everyone now.” Ryan Johnston reports.

Maps point Angelenos toward food sources

Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin’s office on Wednesday announced the launch of a new website to help people locate grocery stores, farmers markets, and meal distribution centers run by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has canceled all classes through April in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The new website, which uses maps to visualize data aggregated by Galperin’s office from LAUSD and city agencies, is intended to ensure that when people venture outdoors during California’s statewide shelter-in-place order, they can be sure the store will be open when they arrive. "This map connects people in need with neighborhood food resources that will help them get through this extremely difficult time," Galperin said in a press release. About 20 percent of Los Angeles County's 10 million residents are food insecure.   Colin has more.

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