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Little state plans big IT mod

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott this week proposed the creation of a permanent fund to pay for modernization projects across the state government, including upgrades to some systems that still run on decades-old mainframes. Scott said the fund, which would start at $53 million, will help deliver “major IT and cybersecurity work that will better serve Vermonters.” In an interview, state CIO John Quinn told StateScoop he’s already identified 12 major projects the money could begin funding, including replacements of the state DMV's entire IT infrastructure and unemployment system. Scott's proposal, Quinn said, will allow Vermont "to start funding IT the right way." Benjamin Freed reports.

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Maps for climate

President Biden's executive order Wednesday focusing on climate change includes a directive to assess the possibility of a federal geographic mapping service that could be used to support state and local governments. Molly Schar, executive director of the National States Geographic Information Council, told StateScoop she was “pleased to see the value of GIS recognized,” but said it isn’t clear yet what role state governments might play in the creation of such a system or how they would use it. Colin Wood has more.

How the COVID-19 pandemic pushed cities toward inclusive technology

For city leaders, equity and inclusivity have become an integral part of how technology is being used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. On an episode of the LocalSmart Awards miniseries podcast, eight city technology officials from around the country weigh in on issues like the digital divide and digital service delivery. “[The pandemic has] been an opportunity for us to grow, an opportunity for us to identify where equity truly does lie within our city,” Brian Dillard, San Antonio’s chief innovation officer says on the podcast. Listen to the podcast.

Mayors, county leaders 'sounding the alarm' for federal aid

A group of mayors and county officials pressed their case yesterday for direct aid to state and local governments to be included in any future federal pandemic relief package, stressing that cities, counties and other localities have been squeezed hardest by the economic effects of COVID-19. “Local leaders have been sounding an alarm for months,” Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley said on a conference call with reporters. State and local governments have lost 1.3 million jobs since the start of the pandemic, and without federal support, it could be take until mid-2023 for cities to recover just half those losses, Arlington, Texas, Mayor Jeff Williams said. Ben has more.

Chicago's environmental sensor network is getting an upgrade

A network of 130 environmental sensors placed around Chicago over the last four years is only starting to scratch the surface of how internet-connected devices can improve a city’s efficiency and safety from natural disasters, the lead researcher behind the effort said Wednesday. Charlie Catlett, a senior computer scientist at the U.S. Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory, said that the network will be upgraded this year with internet-connected “nodes” detecting air quality, traffic patterns and noise that are 200 times more powerful than the devices currently installed around the city. Ryan Johnston reports.

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