Tech News for February 5

Jerry Brown selects California’s first medical marijuana chief

California has found its czar for medical marijuana. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Lori Ajax, currently the chief deputy director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to the newly-created post overseeing the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation in the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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Daniel Borenstein: Plan to shore up CalSTRS doesn’t work as billed

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed through a 32-year plan to shore up the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. He said the state, school districts and teachers would share responsibility to “fully fund” the $74 billion shortfall of the nation’s second largest pension system.But it may not work out that way. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office says the “abstract” calculation CalSTRS uses to implement the deal produces unexpected results.

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Cal Fire gets more money for fire protection: Gov. proposes 750 new positions

For next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Gov. Jerry Brown has recommended a $200 million increase for the Cal Fire budget. The agency’s total would be $2.1 billion compared to $1.9 billion in fiscal 2015-16

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Pushing education forward with education technology standards

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP). Technology has improved dramatically since the last update of the plan in 2010. Mobile devices and relatively inexpensive high-speed Internet access have served as platforms for numerous advanced education technologies. Yet despite these gains, new education technologies have not revolutionized schools as some once thought was possible. The growing digital divide in the access to these advanced technologies is also an area of concern.

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Cisco Spends $1.4 Billion on Jasper IoT Platform

If you’ve ever wondered how serious Cisco Relevant Products/Services really is about the Internet of Things (IoT), just consider its acquisition of Jasper Technologies Inc. Jasper delivers a cloud Relevant Products/Services-based IoT service platform that can connect millions of smart devices — and Cisco is shelling out $1.4 billion to get its hands on the technology.

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Cognitive cloud computing can transform companies: Ginni Rometty

Virginia Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive of US information technology giant IBM, said India had the potential to grow at 10 per cent annually for the next two years. This century could, she felt, be India’s. Speaking at IBM’s flagship customer event, ‘Think Forum’, she spoke at length about IBM’s cognitive cloud computing system, Watson, and how it had the potential to transform companies across the board. Watson is an artificially developed intelligence that works in natural languages. Currently, it is being applied in 36 countries and at a little more than 5,000 companies in the world.

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Government appoints former Guardian CIO Andy Beale as deputy chief technology officer

The government has appointed former CIO of the Guardian News and Media Group Andy Beale (pictured) as its deputy chief technology officer (CTO). Beale, who joined the government in November 2012 after five years as a technology director at The Guardian, will move from his current role as director of common technology services at the Government Digital Service (GDS) to take up a new post as deputy to government CTO Liam Maxwell.

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Challenge contests and prize competitions lead to better, cheaper technology

The U.S. government should use more contests, challenges and prizes to find technological innovations and savings, according to two government officials who oversee federal research and development efforts. At Thursday’s PeaceTech Summit in Washington, D.C., Ann Mei Chang, the executive director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Global Development Lab, and Jason Matheny, the director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, said federal challenges and prize competitions often unlock innovations that are rare in traditional federal contracting — and cheaper.

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The government’s encryption plans remain impossible to decipher

The first serious look at the government’s plans for a new internet surveillance law has demonstrated just how much confusion there still remains about the legislation. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published by the government on November, after which the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launched its investigation into the technical feasibility of the new law, taking evidence from a wide range of experts. It has concluded that there is still confusion about some of the key elements of the proposed law: about exactly what information about our internet usage that the government wants to collect — and the cost of doing it.

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Bill Introduced to Repeal Cybersecurity Act of 2015

The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (the Act) was passed into law on December 18, 2015, as Division N of H.R. 2029 (Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016), the 2016 omnibus spending bill. Less than a month later, H.R.4350 was introduced as a bipartisan bill to repeal the Act. Proponents of the Act assert that legislation is needed to address vulnerabilities created as innovations in technology emerge and create gaps in existing law. Opponents to the Act argue that it is unlikely to successfully thwart cyber attacks and creates a broad threat to privacy and question its legitimacy, viewing it as hastily signed into law as part of a spending bill.

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Editorial: Proposed legislation draws attention to needed reforms at California’s PUC

A frustrated Los Angeles assemblyman has stepped up the pressure against the California Public Utilities Commission by calling for its constitutional dismantling, spreading out its duties among a number of other government agencies. The idea by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, quickly won the backing of several other members of the Legislature, including Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who represents Simi Valley. But they are a long way from the two-thirds legislative approval it would require to then put the idea on the November ballot for voters.

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RFP: California State University Enterprise Learning Platform

The California State University system on Thursday released an RFP to solicit proposals from qualified firms interested in providing between one and 23 individual campuses with enterprise-level learning platforms and services (LPS). The core of the LPS is the course management system; most CSU campuses call it the learning management system (LMS).

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‘Let’s Get Healthy California’ Launches New Website

A new website from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) showcases the state’s progress toward goals for 39 key health and wellness indicators. The Let’s Get Healthy California portal also details 23 community-based innovations that were named finalists last month at the 2016 Innovation Conference.

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L.A. County Uses Data Analytics to Keep Kids Out of Jail

Anytime Netflix customers log onto their accounts, they receive automated suggestions for movies they might like. The software uses the customer’s “previously watched” data to make informed predictions about similar films that probably align with the person’s viewing tastes. Such suggestion services are ubiquitous with online companies: Amazon proffers a book you might like; Twitter tells you whom to follow; LinkedIn guides you to new career connections.

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Would ‘Mini-Waterfall’ Development Work for California?

With the state of California embarking on an agile approach for the procurement and development of a new child welfare system, state officials and outside observers both have said there will be some level of experimentation to figure out what works best for the state and what doesn’t. A few project management experts have told TechWire, in the course of our reporting, that they think it’s possible California eventually will settle into a structure, at least at first, that’s a combination of waterfall development and agile principles.

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Expert: Augmented Reality Coming Soon to California Government

Augmented reality will soon transform how constituents interact with their government and how California’s public-sector workforce does its job, says a leading expert on smart cities. Dr. Gregory Curtin, founder and CEO of Civic Resource Group, said during remarks Wednesday at the Government Transformation conference in Sacramento that augmented reality software and devices are on the market now in products like HoloLens and Magic Leap, and there are already “profound” use cases for AR in the public sector.

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California controller seeks $4.8 million to fund litigation over failed payroll system

Locked in a finger-pointing lawsuit over a failed state IT project, State Controller Betty Yee has asked lawmakers for $4.8 million to cover court court costs through the end of this year. That’s on top of $6.8 million spent on litigation during the last six months of 2015. The project, MyCalPays, was suspended in February 2013. A bill summarizing Yee’s request for more money was posted online Wednesday by the state Department of Finance.

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