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IT is bigger than ever

The COVID-19 pandemic’s been as rough on state and city governments as it has been on any organizations, with many of the unforeseen demands falling on IT agencies suddenly tasked with scaling up unemployment systems, developing data platforms to track infection rates and coronavirus testing and keeping newly remote workforces humming. But a group of state and city CIOs said during an online conference yesterday that the health crisis has raised tech agencies' profiles — possibly forever. “IT has not only stepped up to the plate, we will have a permanent seat at the table,” Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers said during the discussion. Benjamin Freed has more.

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NJ Transit builds its own vendor matrix

New Jersey Transit will unveil next month the results of a year-long project to index and grade vendors in the transportation industry. Lookman Fazal, chief information officer of the country’s third-largest rail network, told StateScoop the effort will fill an industrywide knowledge gap, benefitting state and local transportation agencies across the United States. The “Innovation Matrix”, is designed to serve as a market intelligence database for transit agencies, similar to how mainline government tech agencies use research and advisory firms like Gartner, Forrester and IDC to gather information about IT vendors, Fazal said. Ryan Johnston reports.

Most counties' election sites still lack .gov and HTTPS, McAfee says

Cybersecurity analysts have long encouraged state and local government organizations — especially election administrators — to migrate their web domains to .gov and use the encrypted HTTPS protocol to protect users. But according to research published this week by McAfee, barely 20% of county election boards have moved their websites to the federally administered .gov top-level domain, 55% employ HTTPS and just 16% percent have adopted both. While many county election offices are small, with minimal IT budgets, McAfee CTO Steve Grobman said they should at least be able to take these two steps. "There are a lot of things that are complex in cybersecurity, this isn’t one of them," he told StateScoop. Read more about where election offices are falling short.

Michigan sponsors unmanned boat research

Starting this week, a Michigan office that sets the state’s policy around autonomous vehicle research will sponsor two companies to test autonomous boats and energy-efficient engines at a marine-autonomy research center on Lake Superior. The state’s new Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, which promotes and funds unmanned vehicle development, issued grants to two companies to test autonomous vessels and boat engines. Ryan sails in.

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