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What really happened with that 911 outage

A 911 service outage that affected 14 states for more than an hour on Sept. 28 was caused by a networking misconfiguration at the technology firm Intrado, the company acknowledged to StateScoop on Friday. “Initial analysis identified an internal networking component that was not correctly forwarding traffic, resulting in the impairment of call delivery,” the statement read. The incident marks the latest in a series of outages in recent years that can be traced back to mistakes at Intrado, which acts as a subcontractor for larger companies that operate the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure. Though 911 outages may be inevitable given the complexity of the U.S.'s emergency system, the Federal Communications Commission has vowed to investigate the issue to ensure similar outages don't happen again. Colin Wood reports.

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States enter the cloud ‘one step at a time’

On the latest episode of StateScoop's Priorities podcast, Arkansas Chief Technology Officer Yessica Jones and Nevada Chief Information Officer Alan Cunningham join to discuss the status of their states' cloud services upgrades. In both states, the officials said the pandemic has accelerated upgrade efforts. But they also both cited various challenges that are forcing them to be deliberate and diligent in how they approach their work with cloud. “Change is always an issue,” Cunningham says on the podcast. “Some people don’t want to change, but Covid has really helped push that forward at a much faster rate because people were not allowed in the offices for the longest time so our implementation of Office 365, especially of Teams, helped our staff still communicate and keep government running, because it never stops.” Listen to the latest episode.

Pandemic set a new baseline for digital service

While the coronavirus pandemic has forced state and local governments to move traditional services online quicker than ever before, some state officials, like Georgia Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande, say that 2020’s speed of digital transformation will become the new “baseline” for government agencies in a post-COVID-19 world. Deshpande, who leads Georgia’s Digital Services team within the state’s technology authority, said last week that he expects his state’s digital service delivery capabilities to run even smoother in a post-pandemic world. “We are looking at this as a really good baseline,” he said. “If you give your service delivery in serving constituents in a crisis mode, in a non-crisis mode your services will be easily consumable.” Ryan Johnston has the story.

'Strike while the iron is hot'

The coronavirus pandemic has beamed a spotlight on the work on the work state technology departments perform for their fellow government agencies. But Montana Chief Information Officer Tim Bottenfield said last week he doesn’t think the new exposure will last, and that now is the time to push for overdue upgrades. “We’ve got to hit up the legislature while it’s front and center and make sure that we’re doing our due diligence and working across the street with the governor’s office,” Bottenfield said. “I think what we need to focus on is pushing for change rather aggressively. In those areas that need to be revamped and modernized, I think the attitude of strike-while-the-iron-is-hot is what we ought to be doing.” Colin has more.

Two indicted for vote-by-mail robocall scam

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel last week announced felony charges against a pair of right-wing scam artists over a robocall aimed at discouraging voters in Detroit and cities in at least four other states from voting by mail. Nessel accused Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl of planting a call in which a woman’s voice suggests, falsely, that people who cast ballots through the mail will have their personally identifiable information added to police and debt-collection databases, and that the Centers for Disease Control will use mailed ballots to “track people for mandatory vaccines.” Burkman, 54, and Wohl, 22, are facing four felony counts, including intimidating voters, which carries a penalty of five years in prison, and using a computer to commit a violation of election law, which can get up to seven years behind bars in Michigan. Benjamin Freed reports.

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