Tech News for June 9

IBM Releases Cloud-Based Apache Spark Development Environment

A new, cloud-based development environment for Apache Spark from IBM aims to offer data scientists high-performance analytics in near real time, the company announced yesterday. Called the Data Science Experience, the new environment will be available on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform with 250 curated data sets, open source tools and a collaborative workspace.
Big Blue has invested some $300 million to develop Apache Spark as a sort of operating system for analytics. Spark was originally developed by the University of California, Berkeley’s AMPLab before being donated to Apache as an open source framework. IBM said it created the Data Science Experience to offer data scientists the computing speed and flexibility of the Spark platform, with faster access to more data.

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Treasurer John Chiang Calls for IT Contracting Reforms

State Treasurer John Chiang on Tuesday said California must build partnerships with the private sector to develop IT projects that are fair, efficient and effective. “We can’t continue to have the same contracting process where the focus is on winning the bid and not staying focused on putting out an incredible product,” Chiang told TechWire in a wide-ranging phone interview to discuss his 2018 gubernatorial bid. His comments came a day after the state reached a $59 million settlement with SAP Public Services Inc., ending lawsuits over the 21st-century statewide payroll modernization project known as MyCalPays.

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What Employee Surveys Reveal About Working in Government

Several weeks ago, we wrote a column about employee surveys in state and local government. It focused on the importance of using the results to take actions that improve the workplace. But as we looked into the best utility of these surveys, we grew curious about what they actually reveal — especially when compared to the federal government and private sector. While there was good news to be found, some of the results were worrisome. Research from the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR), for example, shows that less than half of state and local employees are fully engaged in their jobs. This is particularly bad news because countless studies link engaged employees to higher productivity, better results and lower absenteeism.

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Gore: What Is Agriculture Data and How Valuable Is It?

What is agriculture data? How valuable is ag data? Are niche hackers chasing ag data? (I’m sort of answering the middle question.) Ag tech developers: knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand your rapidly evolving business. First: What is ag data? This is more crucial and complex than you might imagine. Is it intellectual property, a form with which you are familiar? Yes. Is it real property? Yes. Is it personal property? You bet.

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‘What Works Cities’ network uses Slack to trade open data ideas

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative is using workplace communication app Slack to help its member cities trade ideas about how to best use data. As part of the initiative, 27 selected cities are supposed to find and share ways to use the data they collect to make better decisions, and officials say that Slack makes that easier. The app allows member cities and several localities looking to join the initiative to join an “All Cities” Slack team. Within the team, users can communicate in issue-specific “channels” or in private, direct messages to other members.

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Department of Housing and Community Development Replacing 20-Year-Old Legacy System

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) plans to launch June 21 a replacement for a two-decade-old legacy system used by a state program that administers building codes and regulates the mobile home industry. The re-engineered Codes and Standards Automated System (CASAS 2.0) will replace the original CASAS system implemented in 1997. The new system features a modular, multi-tier system architecture using Java-based software with an Oracle database, according to HCD.

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The Current State Of IT Operations In The Public Sector

To understand why IT operations is so critical to the effectiveness of today’s public sector, you must first understand what IT operations is. Put simply, IT operations is the process of managing and monitoring the day-to-day IT infrastructure of an agency and troubleshooting any issues as they arise. This includes managing the provisioning, capacity, performance and availability of the computing, networking and application environments. Good IT operations is absolutely necessary for government, as they continue to be responsible for more efficiently delivering better services and applications both internally and externally. But there’s more to IT operations than just keeping things running.

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June 14: Drone Information Day at the State Capitol

The California Technology and Innovation Caucus, Consumer Technology Association and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) are hosting Drone Information Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, June 14. The event will feature live drone demonstrations and participating companies will share the latest innovations in the industry.

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House committee passes bill to reorganize DHS cyber office

The House Homeland Security Committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would rename and reorganize the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protectorate and Programs Directorate. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency Act of 2016 changes NPPD to the Cybersecurity and Information Protection Agency, run by a director of national cybersecurity who would oversee four divisions dedicated to cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection policy and operations for the DHS. “This measure realigns and streamlines the department’s cybersecurity and infrastructure protection missions to more effectively protect the American public against cyberattacks that could cripple the nation,” Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said during Wednesday’s markup hearing.

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