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Another unemployment modernization

Nearly 10 months after the COVID-19 pandemic first prompted widespread layoffs and put states’ aging unemployment systems to unprecedented tests, labor officials in Colorado are preparing to switch on a new, cloud-based system they say will make it easier for out-of-work residents to apply for benefits, and for the state to crack down on issues like fraud and identity theft. The new system, which goes live Sunday, is expected to be able to handle the load of claims filed through both Colorado's traditional unemployment insurance system as well as the programs created in response to the pandemic, an upgrade from a mainframe that often sputtered out under record-setting demand in the early days of the health crisis. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Brown Girls Code expands to new cities

As part of its efforts to close the gender and diversity gaps in the technology sector, Ignite Cities, the civic technology consulting group behind efforts to expand Wi-Fi and connected infrastructure during the pandemic, will offer funding and resources this year to Brown Girls Code, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding computer science resources and encouraging students to pursue careers in technology and engineering fields in which less than 3% of jobs are held by Black women. "Organizations such as this afford our girls the opportunity to learn and develop the skills necessary to be the next leader in technology based fields," said Augusta, Georgia, Mayor Hardie Davis. Ryan Johnston has details.

North Dakota urges residents to take free cyber risk assessments

In its latest attempt to stem cyberattacks across the state, the North Dakota Information Technology Department last month started nudging visitors to its website toward a free online service that provides cybersecurity assessments. The defend.nd.gov site encourages users to follow a link to a cybersecurity assessment designed to, officials said, “bring cybersecurity awareness to empower the citizens of North Dakota and help them be aware of the cybersecurity risks that can affect our everyday lives.” Colin Wood has more.

State IT's 'federalist moment'

As the pandemic's continued, amid a dithering federal response, many states have become laboratories of innovation in maintaining the programs that keep people safe, former New York Interim CIO Jeremy Goldberg writes in a new commentary. When the country emerges from the health crisis, he argues, government technology should same follow the principles of shared power that shapes our political system, with states continuing to take a leading role in developing the tools and applications that power public services. Read the commentary.

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