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What civic techies learned in their pandemic response

Leaders of the nonprofit U.S. Digital Response, a group of civic technologists that organized around the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, told StateScoop that after more than three months of scrambling to help government agencies respond to immediate needs to modernize IT systems during the health crisis, the organization might stick around for the long run. The coronavirus has forced public officials to use new tools to solve old problems, motivating government to be smarter and more digital than ever before said Raylene Yung, a former Facebook and Stripe executive who leads the group, which now includes more than 5,500 volunteers, an effort that began with a group text in March Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka. “There is a lot of work to do here, and it’s going to expand far beyond the specific, acute healthcare crisis," Yung said. Ryan Johnston reports.

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Michigan CISO Chris DeRusha joins Biden campaign

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, hired Michigan Chief Security Officer Chris DeRusha as his campaign's chief information security officer, CyberScoop's Sean Lyngaas reports. DeRusha will be responsible for mitigating threats, boosting voter protection efforts and enhancing the campaign's overall security practices, the Biden campaign said in a press release. DeRusha, who was appointed to his Michigan post in February 2019, previously worked as a White House cybersecurity adviser when Biden served as vice president. Read more on CyberScoop.

Why AI might be the most under-used emergency response tool

According to a report released by Microsoft Thursday, artificial intelligence is proving to be one of the most effective technologies that governments deploy to mitigate destruction from natural disasters like wildfires, as well as health crises like COVID-19. But, the report went on, AI is also not being used as widely as it can be, though its popularity is growing slowly. Several agencies in California, where recent wildfire seasons have lasted much longer than the historical average, are using AI platforms to predict where fires will spread. Colin Wood reports.

MTA wants pandemic tech ideas

The Metropolitan Transit Authority on Wednesday asked startups to contribute technology solutions to fight the spread of the coronavirus on New York City’s public transit, ranging from robots that automatically clean subway car interiors to thermal monitoring systems for passengers hopping onboard. “The pandemic hit us in New York like no other place in the country. MTA took unprecedented steps the past four months, opening itself up to innovative ways to reduce the risk to our riders and our workers,” said MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd. In particular, the authority is looking for ideas that might help keep trains clean, offer better air filtration or provide remote therapy to stressed-out transit workers. Ryan has more.

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