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Code for America brigades step up

Local government agencies that struggled to move government services online over the past several months have found a fast-moving ally in Code for America’s local chapters, leaders of which say they are treating the coronavirus pandemic like any other natural disaster that requires digitizing services to provide immediate access to food and shelter. Veronica Young, senior manager of Code for America’s Brigade program, said on a webinar last week that the organization's 80 local groups have been working with officials in their communities to develop apps, chatbots and other solutions to help people reach vital government services. And some of those tools, like a mobile app for accessing nutrition benefits created by the brigade in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are now being adapted by other brigades. Ryan Johnston reports.

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Newark's CIO steps down

Steve Emanuel, a former New Jersey chief information officer who currently serves as the CIO of Newark, New Jersey, will step down on July 17 to take a private consulting role assisting New Jersey’s state and local government agencies, he told StateScoop yesterday. During his year-and-a-half in Newark, Emanuel said his crowning achievement was helping the city improve its cybersecurity posture. He joined the city government in early 2019, when it was still rebounding from a 2017 ransomware attack in which it paid hackers a $30,000 bounty. "One of the first things I was able to convince my business administrator was I needed to create a role for someone to focus 100% on information security," he said.   Colin Wood reports.

Everyone wants to modernize now

The relative ease with which state and local governments have adopted new technologies forced upon them by the coronavirus pandemic could usher in a more flexible mindset in a sector that has traditionally been slow to change, a Google executive told StateScoop in a recent interview. “We’re seeing a newfound interest and priority to digitize,” Todd Schroeder, Google's director of public sector digital strategy, said. “I think we’re finding that that’s really predicated on the idea that we need to bring business agility back to government. The ability to adapt was pretty brittle.” Among the recent projects Schroder highlighted was working with the State of New York to streamline an application that was accepting hundreds of thousands of claims weekly for unemployment benefits. Colin has more.

Enthusiasm for curbs

Four U.S. cities will participate in a pilot program using technology from the Sidewalk Labs-backed company Coord to measure how well curbside management apps can reduce congestion and improve safety for drivers and pedestrians. Coord will launch pilots in Nashville, Tennessee; Aspen, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; and West Palm Beach, Florida. The four cities will designate curbside space in their downtown areas as “smart zones," where a mobile app will direct delivery and service vehicle drivers and provide officials with data on where, when and for how long the curb space is being used. Ryan has details.


Why data virtualization offers a better path to decision making

It’s hard to ignore the clamor inside and outside of government circles to harness data more effectively — which has been underscored by the ongoing pandemic and the challenge to obtain current, reliable data in roughly real time for informed public policy decisions. TIBCO’s Mark Palmer discusses the need for agencies to manage and develop more cohesive data governance strategies — so that analysts, program managers or agency executives can get the information they need. Read more from Mark Palmer.

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