Tech News for May 24

Why You Need To Set A Vision For Every Single Project

A project is a relatively short-term effort aimed at solving a problem or improving some aspect of your organization. So, why do you need to spend your time setting a vision for your project work? The reason is simple. We’ve all shared this experience – waiting for a meeting to start and listening to everyone lamenting the fact that they don’t understand the purpose of the work. Asking questions like “why are we even here? Is this another waste of time?” Dedicating time to articulating the vision behind the work can refocus that damaging, distracting thinking and unite staff around shared goals. In fact, a vision can be used to excite staff about what they’re working on – igniting their creativity and driving their desire to collaborate. A vision provides inspiration and sparks ideas around what can be.

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Predictive Security Intelligence: Achieving Holistic Cybersecurity

To be effective in their security efforts, agencies must be proactive — using cyber analytics and cognitive-based systems to develop true security intelligence. No longer can security programs rely on an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach — adversaries could already be inside systems, stealing data or probing for weaknesses. Too many CIOs and CISOs have thought their systems and data were secure when in fact they were anything but. Security programs need effective protection of valuable information and systems to prevent data breaches, and to comply with the ever-increasing federal compliance requirements. Among others, there are the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the Privacy Act, policy and guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the General Services Administration’s Federal Risk Authorization and Management (FedRAMP) program, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be considered.

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New IBM partnership leverages cognitive computing for California water monitoring

IBM Watson’s cognitive computing services have already made significant headway with water and resource efficiency projects throughout the world. But with a new partnership, Watson’s cognitive insight capabilities are set to break new ground in water monitoring and environmental analytics in California – a potentially disruptive change for water utilities countrywide. On Friday, IBM announced the general availability of its Visual Recognition application programming interface and a corresponding partnership with OmniEarth, an environmental analytics company. The Visual Recognition service studies images taken from aerial or satellite footage to decipher and classify topographical features. While these are the same images researchers have long accessed, the cognitive insights deliver results much faster. The service can process 150,000 images in 12 minutes, in contrast to the many hours or days taken to review the images manually.

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Should Companies Be Required to Share Information About Cyberattacks?

Damage from cyberattacks comes in layers. Direct harm, in the form of theft and other losses. Damage to the reputation of the companies affected when news gets out. And the slow erosion of confidence in overall online security—a malaise that grows worse with each new breach. How do we limit the damage and, more important, restore confidence in online security? That is a question that bedevils policy makers as much as it does network analysts and computer scientists.

[] 5/22

Consumer group builds PUC email database

The Santa Monica consumer group that prompted an investigation into Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide’s contacts with regulated utilities earlier this year has built a searchable public database of thousands of internal emails to and from her former employer, Pacific Gas & Electric, and others. The emails, released under the California Public Records Act and as part of the utility’s response to the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, were posted by Consumer Watchdog on a new website called The California Public Utilities Commission has been under criminal investigation since 2014 for its handling of the San Bruno explosion as well as the premature closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2012.

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Utah.Gov Launches First State Government Amazon Echo Skill

The Department of Public Safety and the Department of Technology Services announced the introduction of a new Amazon Echo practice exam for the driver’s license. The added convenience of the voice activated practice exam allows new drivers to review the rules of the road in the comfort of their homes through Amazon’s voice controlled speaker and digital assistant, Alexa. The Amazon Echo was Amazon’s best selling item over $100 on Black Friday in 2015, and accounts for 25% of online speaker sales. “We’re excited to provide new drivers with added functionality and convenience through Amazon Echo,” said Marissa Villaseñor, Director of Public Relations, Utah Department of Public Safety. “The Echo is an amazing new tool, and we are looking forward to expanding the services we integrate with Echo.”

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IT solicitations by state, local governments continue to decline in Q1 FY 2016 — report

States and localities substantially cut back on the number of IT contract solicitations they issued in the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year compared to the same period last year, according to the results of a new report. Analysts at the research firm Deltek released a study of the company’s “GovWin IQ State and Local” database last week, and they found state and local governments solicited 19.2 percent fewer IT-related bids in the first section of the new fiscal year. Only contracts related to research and development, and environment and consultation services saw steeper declines from 2015 to 2016.

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Best of California Award Nominations Deadline Extended to June 7

The Center for Digital Government is inviting nominations for its 2016 awards program for IT professionals in California state and local government and education organizations. Nominations must be made by public-sector government, education officials, executives, managers or staff. For more information and the entry form,

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Covered California Approves IT Contracts, Prepares for CalHEERS Procurement

The board of California’s health benefits exchange has approved Covered California and its state partners to work on activities supporting the re-procurement of the $864 million CalHEERS system. The California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System (CalHEERS) system includes the Covered California Web portal that allows Californians to shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, as well as the back-end rules engine that determines eligibility and enrollment processes for the California Health Benefit Exchange, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs. “CalHEERS is in place, will be in place for years to come, but re-procurement is a major ongoing deal and we’ll be having a procurement for procurement,” Covered California executive director Peter Lee said during a May 12 board meeting.

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DHS Throws $200K Toward Internet of Things Security

The notoriously vulnerable and open-ended Internet of Things (IoT) is at the heart of a nearly quarter-million-dollar Department of Homeland Security award to a California-based company. Under the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Other Transaction Solicitation (OTS), announced earlier in 2016, Half Moon Bay’s Whitescope LLC was tapped on May 23 to create a wireless communications gateway aimed at protecting the Internet of Things.  The OTS program was developed to keep the domestic security organization in step with the technological times through alternative procurement models, which target nontraditional methods to address what they call “emerging threats” faster and more effectively. Security in the IoT realm has been questioned at all levels of government as of late with more device and networks connected each day with varying levels of security.

[] 5/23

How Oakland, Calif., Transformed Itself Into a Tech City

It was once a major downtown landmark, drawing shoppers from throughout the city, before gradually slumping into a status charitably described as “underused.” But the building is now about to be transformed into cool, stylish offices on its upper floors, along with street-level stores and restaurants. While this describes what the Grand Avenue mall’s new owners hope to do with their downtown Milwaukee property, it also is the story behind a similar project in downtown Oakland. A large former Sears department store there has been sold to Uber Technologies Inc., the fast-growing smartphone-based ride-sharing service and bane of taxicabs everywhere. The San Francisco-based tech company is converting most of the Oakland building’s upper floors into corporate offices, while reserving the street level for retail use.

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State Department CISO retiring

The official responsible for IT security at the State Department is retiring, he told FedScoop Friday. William Lay is State’s deputy CIO for information assurance and chief information security officer, a post he’s held since September 2012. His last day at work will be May 27. Lay said in an email he was retiring to San Antonio, Texas, and had no immediate plans. “I will figure out the next chapter of my life when I get back to Texas,” he said.

[] 5/20

Using technology to increase government transparency

Demand for transparency in government is growing as ordinary citizens are increasingly losing trust in their elected officials. In the United States, studies by the Pew Research Center show that the public’s trust in the federal government continues to be at historically low levels, with only 19% trusting it to do what is right. Despite the many pledges that governments around the world are making on this front, including a multinational Open Government Partnership launched by President Obama in 2011, there remain many ongoing challenges in making citizens an active part of the political and democratic process. In recent years, technology, along with the efforts of many organizations and initiatives, has provided an unprecedented ability to access and share information to hold NGOs, companies, and many prominent figures accountable for their actions. As technology becomes an integral part of our daily lives, citizens are now looking for their local and national governments to also implement new, innovative ways to meet the growing demand for access and transparency of what their governments are doing.

[] 5/24


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