Tech News for January 29

Sorry, Google: California’s self-driving car bill would prioritize unknown rival

A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize autonomous vehicles without human drivers for the first time in the US. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla wants to change California’s rules so that GoMentum Station, a testing ground for autonomous vehicles located in her district near San Francisco, can test completely driver-less vehicles on public roads.

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The Fifth Annual Northern California Data Center Summit | The National Data Center Summit Series | February 24-25 San Francisco

Attendance is building for the next installment in The National Data Center Summit Series®. Leading data center real estate and technology infrastructure executives are making plans to attend The Fifth Annual Northern California Data Center Summit. This full-day summit will be held on February 25 at The Saint Francis Yacht Club and feature 40+ speakers who will offer comprehensive market analysis of the opportunities and challenges in western markets. Participating firms represent the industry’s most active developers, investors, operators and end-users, including: eBay, City of Palo Alto, GI Partners, andCBRE.

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Rudy Giuliani compares cyber security to cancer and hackers to the Mafia

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani compares cybersecurity to cancer. As a prostate cancer survivor, Giuliani says he doubts anyone will ever find a “perfect solution” to the disease, and that cybercrime presents a similar challenge. And for both maladies, detecting them early on can reduce the damage.

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5 Steps to Speeding Up Smart Government (by Slowing Down)

All around the world, technology leaders are trying to work smarter, innovate and do more with less. From the Internet of Things to smart cities, from big data collection to connected drones, everyone’s trying to gain that competitive edge. At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay current with emerging technologies while mitigating security vulnerabilities. What can be done to keep up? Surprisingly it may be best to slow down, look around and catch your breath. That’s right — if you want to speed up innovation, many experts suggest slowing down first.

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DHS begins hunt for social media monitoring technology

Amid calls for the Homeland Security Department to more closely monitor security threats “hidden in plain sight” on social media, the department on Monday issued a request for information on social media analytics technologies. In a Jan. 25 notice posted to FedBizOpps, DHS made clear that the department is not soliciting or planning to award a contract yet, but is simply gathering more information on the solutions currently available.

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California Police Used Stingrays in Planes to Spy on Phones

The government’s use of a controversial invasive technology for tracking phones just got a little more controversial. The Anaheim Police Department has acknowledged in new documents that it uses surveillance devices known as Dirtboxes—plane-mounted stingrays—on aircraft flying above the Southern California city that is home to Disneyland, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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UC Davis grants $1M toward development of robotic harvesting technology

In December 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provided $1 million of funding to UC Davis to produce innovative robotic harvesting technology. Stavros Vougioukas, a UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering, will be leading the project with a team of researchers from UC Davis. He will be collaborating with Dr. Stephen Nuske, from Carnegie Mellon University, who will lead another team in developing the computer vision systems for the project. “This project aspires to develop affordable technologies for next-generation, robotic harvest-aid orchard platforms,” Vougioukas said. “The machines we envision will function as co-bots that collaborate with fruit pickers by physically carrying them and intelligently adjusting their vertical positioning with respect to the canopies in the orchard.”

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FCC chief proposes freeing Americans from getting pricey set-top boxes from TV providers

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to give people more choices when it comes to buying or renting a cable box. Americans spend an estimated $20 billion a year renting one or more set-top boxes from their cable and satellite TV providers, revenue that the FCC said dramatically exceeds the cost of providing the devices to pay-TV subscribers.

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The 99.999 percent cybersecurity problem

Near-perfection is a lofty goal, one utilities strive for. “Five nines” has become, it’s said, the “holy grail” of reliability: Under this scenario, customers have service 99.999 percent of the time, with outages averaging only about five minutes per year. Now, that’s service.

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How local government can manage technology risk

“Managing Technology Risks through Technological Proficiency: Guidance for Local Governments,” a report from the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University.

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Bluetooth technology used to steal card information at gas pumps

The art of stealing bank information at the gas pump is evolving, with criminals now using bluetooth technology.”They just pull up, get gas or act like they’re getting gas, download the data and move on. That’s what makes that one even more difficult to deal with,” La. Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said. The LDAF along with the Secret Service and local law enforcement proactively seek out card skimmers on gas pumps.

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State Treasurer’s Office Details New Procurement Model for California Debt Management System

The State Treasurer’s Office has released its request for offer (RFO) that will guide a new procurement and development approach for modernizing California’s Debt Management System. The bid document (.pdf) was sent on Jan. 22 to 16 certified TIER 3 vendors on the Department of General Service’s Master Service Agreement list. Responses from those firms are due March 25, 2016. All Tier 3 vendors are qualified to bid on this contract opportunity.

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California Task Force Considers Data Analytics Platform to Combat Tax Evasion

A multi-agency state pilot program started in 2013 to combat tax evasion within California’s underground economy has helped identify and investigate more than $60 million in potentially lost revenue, a Board of Equalization official said this week. Randy Silva, chief of BOE’s Investigations and Special Operations Division, reported on Jan. 26 to the board that one of the broader objectives of the Revenue Recovery and Collaborative Enforcement (RRCE) Act established by AB 576 was to take a broader look at how data could be used to coordinate outreach, audits and enforcement.

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This Week in Civic Tech: LA Captures ‘Universe of Transportation Options,’ What are the Top Civic Engagement Challenges of 2016?

With today’s smorgasbord of transit apps, cooking up something new requires a rare kind of alchemy. Los Angeles, however, may have done it: The Go LA app went live on Jan. 27 with a bevy of features that integrate ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber in addition to the typical fare of buses, trains, taxis and bicycle commuting. Officials say this is to capture the entire “universe of transportation options” available.

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DHS $6 Billion Firewall May Not Be Effective In Keeping Hackers Out of Government, Audit Says

A firewall run by the Department of Homeland Security meant to detect and prevent nation-state hacks against the government functions ineffectively, according to a sanitized version of a secret federal audit. EINSTEIN relies on patterns of attacks, called signatures, to spot suspicious traffic, but it does not scan for 94 percent of commonly known vulnerabilities or check web traffic for malicious content.

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Report: Here’s why California Board of Equalization should get new HQ

Forget the Board of Equalization tower’s history of mold, water leaks, falling exterior glass panels, corroded waste-water pipes, unreliable elevators and bat infestation. There’s a better reason to move the tax-collecting agency’s headquarters from the 24-story, scoffolding-skirted, running joke that has cost taxpayers $60 million to repair so far: The building is terrible for business. A new state report says that the 450 N St. tower is too small and poorly configured to efficiently process the $60 billion in taxes and fees it collects each year. New tax and fee mandates, such as collecting taxes on commercial medical cannabis, will continue to grow the agency’s workforce.

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​How Maine Is Tapping Millennial Expertise To Recruit Millennials

Kelly Samson-Rickert doesn’t spend her days wondering how millennials want to be wooed or what her office can do to better recruit them. Instead, she has gone straight to the source to figure out what’s keeping more 20- and 30-somethings from applying for state information technology jobs in Maine. The state didn’t hire a team of consultants to figure out that it took applicants nine clicks to find the state’s Office of IT (OIT) job site or that job seekers weren’t sure of the difference between open hire and direct hire. Those were just a few of the issues a handful of OIT interns identified and presented to the governor in August 2015 as part of an Intern Challenge. The state is now working to address their findings.

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