Tech News for May 18

California Could Spend Millions on Medical Marijuana Regulation Systems

The state of California is proposing to spend at least $10 million on contract resources during the next three years in order to stand up new IT systems that will support regulation of California’s medical marijuana industry, according to state budget documents.

The newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation will work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and other state entities to build systems for licensing cultivators and tracking and tracing the movement of cannabis in the state from “seed to sale.”The state has a little more than a year and a half to complete the job. Legislation requires the licensing system to be functional by 2018.

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Caltrans Hires Chief Technology Officer

Mike Nguyen starts today as the chief technology officer of the California Department of Transportation.

Nguyen, who previously was director of the CalPERS Data Center, will oversee the IT Infrastructure Division at Caltrans and is responsible “for all aspects of IT policies, standards, processes and procedures governing the design, development, implementation, maintenance and operations of Caltrans IT infrastructure, and critical IT services that support Caltrans day-to-day business operations,” the department said.

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Revised State Budget Adds IT Funding for Prisons, Courts and Public Health

Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revised Budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17 introduced Friday contains adjustments that would fund a variety of information technology projects. Here is a list of 10 potential opportunities that TechWire is following.

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California’s Online Water Footprint Calculator Helps Citizens Track Usage

The California Department of Water Resources’ calculator has been developed so that individuals and households can determine their true water footprint.

The Department of Water Resources’ newWater Footprint webpage features two online calculators designed to help individuals and households determine how much water they use.

According to Water Plan e-news, the GRACE Communications Foundation developed a calculator that individuals and households can use to calculate their water footprint. The Water Footprint Network also has a calculator that estimates an individual’s personal water footprint.

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California Treasurer John Chiang forms committee to run for governor

Add another name to the list of candidates for California governor in 2018.

State Treasurer John Chiang announced Tuesday, May 16 that he’s forming a gubernatorial campaign committee. The move allows 53-year-old Democrat and former state controller to raise campaign funds.

A news release from the Chiang campaign touted his record as “one of California’s most effective and creative leaders … Chiang is known for his commitment to openness and accountability in government.”

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California department loses laptop with data on inmates who were patients between 1996 and 2004

The California Correctional Health Care Services admitted Friday that a laptop with personal data on inmates had been stolen, the ABC10 television station in Sacramento reported.

The stolen laptop may have contained confidential data on inmates who were patients of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation between 1996 and 2004, according to Liz Gransee, public information officer with the agency’s Office of the Receiver. The laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle on Feb. 25, Gransee noted.

The agency could not provide the number of inmates affected by the breach.

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Los Angeles Connects to 100 Gbps Education Network

Los Angeles will become the first large city to connect to California’s 100 Gbps education network, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced May 12.

The California Research and Education Network (CalREN), which is operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), today connects schools, libraries, researchers and 10,000 member institutions. Connecting city departments to the network will open new data-themed opportunities for government, Garcetti said.“The city of Los Angeles is already unmatched in digital transparency, but speed and accessibility are just as important in the 21st century,” Garcetti said in a press release. “This agreement means that young people, students of all ages, some of the world’s leading thinkers and educators can now access the city’s digital resources up to 1,000 times faster. When we open our data to the public, and commit ourselves to making it more easily available, we create limitless potential for innovation, discovery and new understanding.”

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Natural Resources Agency Sets Path for Tech Transformation

California Natural Resources Agency IT director Tim Garza and his management team on Tuesday discussed in-depth a wide range of projects, initiatives and goals that are in flight at the agency and the 33 organizations beneath it.During the TechWire Industry Briefing in Sacramento, Garza described how the agency is moving to create a software-defined data center and a hybrid cloud that will help transform how the agency delivers technology services to its customers.

Garza mentioned that the agency maintains 11 petabytes of active data, perhaps the largest footprint of any state organization.

The agency maintains approximately 3,000 sensors across California. With that in mind, Garza said the agency is creating a big data analytics platform that can be utilized enterprisewide.

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National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Opens Silicon Valley ‘Outpost’

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the mapping agency expanding its western headquarters in St. Louis, announced on Monday that it will create an “outpost” in Silicon Valley.

“We plan to advance our profession by going to the geographic heart of American innovation: Silicon Valley,” NGA Director Robert Cardillo said at the GEOINT Symposium in Orlando, Fla. “This summer, we’ll create a presence there, what we call NGA Outpost Valley. This … will leverage the organic capabilities and energy of the Valley’s open, vibrant, geospatial community.”

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Would minute warning before ‘Big One’ save your life in quake?

Could you avoid a crushing death if you had one minute of warning before a monster earthquake hits?

An early warning earthquake system that could give you 10-60 seconds before a massive “Big One” earthquake was closer Monday to being built after Gov. Jerry Brown included $10 million in his proposed state budget.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, praised Brown’s decision to reverse himself and seek state funds for an earthquake early warning system that could come online as early as 2018.

“We now have full buy-in from California and the federal government,” Schiff told the Los Angeles Times. “I think we’re now on track to get this system up and running…. With this increment of funding, and the additional federal funding we hope to get this year, it should be a matter of a couple of years before we can build this system out.”

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New California Gold Rush Beckons Wind Developers Off Coast

When turbines start spinning at the first U.S. offshore wind farm near Rhode Island later this year, some energy developers will already be eyeing a bigger prize.

There’s a steadier, harder wind blowing off the California coast. Those reliable Pacific gusts could yield nearly a terawatt of electricity, 13 times the capacity of all the wind turbines now installed on land in the U.S. — without consuming real estate or blocking anyone’s views.

But Mother Nature isn’t going to make it easy. The continental shelf plunges fast and deep off the West Coast, making it impossible to install conventional turbines into a seabed hundreds of feet under water. Some developers think they’ve found the solution: harnessing this renewable resource with technology borrowed from the fossil-fuel industry to keep turbines afloat.

“We can’t fix turbines into the ocean floor out there,” said Nancy Sopko, manager of advocacy and federal legislative affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. “To tap into that great offshore wind potential, we’re going to need these floating structures.”

The Department of Energy is expected to decide next month whether to award some $40 million to as many as five floating wind projects that have already won previous funding. And the Interior Department will soon ask if there’s commercial interest in leasing Pacific waters near California and Hawaii — a critical step toward future floating wind projects there.

The technology is in its early days. Globally, there are just 15.33 megawatts of floating wind capacity, mostly coming from a handful of pilot projects involving one or two turbines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s less than a percent of the total 11.6 gigawatts of capacity from traditional wind projects in waters around the world.

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