Tech News for May 9

State Nears Launch of Online System for Medi-Cal Fee-for-Service Providers

The state of California is replacing one of the lengthiest paper-based forms in all of government, perhaps the world, with a web-based solution its designers say is like a more sophisticated version of TurboTax. By the end of July, many of California’s 154,000 Medicaid fee-for-service providers — doctors and other medical personnel – will be able to securely enroll and validate their information through the Department of Health Care Services’ public-facing Provider Application and Validation for Enrollment (PAVE) system. Fee-for-service providers will use a web-based browser to access the application, which features e-signatures, “social” collaboration and chat functionality, private and secure messaging with the provider’s application team or enrollment staff, context-specific forms, and form sharing.

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Health and Human Services Establishing Pool of Agile Developers

The California Health and Human Services Agency is establishing a pre-qualified pool of as many as 15 vendors to provide “user-centric design” and agile software development services.

The Child Welfare Services – New System (CWS-NS) will be the first project to use the newly formed group of companies, the agency said in a May 5 announcement. The vendor pool will be modeled after a purchasing agreement for agile development the federal government established in 2015.

To be considered for qualification, vendors must submit a working prototype of software demonstrating agile development. “The working prototype will be an application that will allow parents of foster kids to establish and manage their profile, and view children’s residential facilities in their ZIP code, and communicate with the case worker via a private inbox. The working prototype will access open data through the HHS API [Application Programming Interface] to retrieve data about foster family agency locations that are nearby,” the invitation says.

A CMAS designation is not required to participate.

Submissions are due June 9.

Forming a pool of agile developers could be an emerging trend in governments at all levels. Last year, the Federal Acquisition Service and 18F announced 17 vendors qualified through its prequalified pool. They submitted working protypes developed from a public data set.

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IT Analysis: City of Los Angeles 2016-17 City Budget

The city of Los Angeles has several technology projects on its plate and has set aside funding for them in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget would:

Add $1 million to the city’s Innovation Fund.

Fund Fire Department projects for the Automated Vehicle Locator project, Mobile Data Network, Fire Station Alerting System, Move-Up Command Table Project and Firefighter Tablet projects.

Put an additional $1.7 million is allocated to support completion of the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system upgrade.

$5.1 million for upgrades to the Los Angeles Convention Center including: solar array expansion, lighting, fiber optic upgrade, and improvements to security.

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State Technology Leaders Focus on Procurement, Cybersecurity and Agile

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) held their Midyear Conference in Baltimore this past week. There were plenty of hot topics on the agenda, including: enabling innovation through agile software development, the continuing need for procurement reform and a big push on cybersecurity.

From the opening keynote highlighting what it takes to be a successful technology leader in 2016 to the closing general session to determine “are you smarter than a state CISO,” the 2016 NASCIO Midyear conference was packed with thought-provoking content.

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FCC Approves Charter’s Acquisition of Time Warner Cable

Charter Communications on Friday received federal regulatory approval for its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the $71 billion deal, as expected, with conditions designed to spur competition among Internet service providers and increase the number of homes with broadband Internet connections.

The acquisitions would give Charter more than 23 million customers in 41 states.

The deal still needs the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission, which has scheduled a vote for Thursday.

A judge in San Francisco reviewing the deal for the commission recommended approval last month, but he added conditions aimed at expanding the number of families who receive high-speed Internet service in their homes.

The Justice Department, which conducted an antitrust review, said last week it would allow Charter to complete the acquisitions.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced last week that he would support the deal after Charter agreed to several conditions.

Among them were a requirement that Charter expand broadband service in areas with spotty coverage and provide low-cost Internet access to at least 525,000 low-income homes.

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Fresno City Hall Looks to Cash in on Digital Billboards

Fresno leaders hope to put a few more dollars into the city treasury by leasing bits of parks and other city land to an outdoor advertising firm for a handful of digital billboards. There is a side benefit as well: Dozens of older billboards along city streets would come down.

Outfront Media, which owns hundreds of billboards dotting Fresno’s major thoroughfares, is in negotiations with City Manager Bruce Rudd to lease sites at two city parks, at Fresno’s municipal service yard and in the right of way for the future Veterans Boulevard for thechangeable electronic billboards – essentially big video screens with a rotation of ads that can be customized and changed as needed.

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The Clash of Privacy, Legislation and Software

Digital encryption, with its mind-numbing mathematics, is hard to do. It’s almost as tough as the arguments on what to do with it.

As Cecilia Kang writes, the United States government is facing off with the American technology industry over a bill that would require tech companies to comply with court orders seeking access to people’s encrypted data. The two sides are engaged in heavy and vigorous behind-the-scenes lobbying.

On first pass, the government has a good point: In moments of grave danger, or to establish a chain of evidence, there are good reasons to think authorized warrants should not be limited by actions taken by companies.

But the companies have their own points: If they build software that can be cracked or opened, they are building flawed products that hackers know they can exploit.

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Computers are taking over jobs but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Losing jobs to technology is nothing new. Since the industrial revolution, roles that were once exclusively performed by humans have been slowly but steadily replaced by some form of automated machinery. Even in cases where the human worker is not completely replaced by a machine, humans have learned to rely on a battery of machinery to be more efficient and accurate.

A report from the Oxford Martin School’s Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology said that 47 percent of all jobs in the U.S. are likely to be replaced by automated systems. Among the jobs soon to be replaced by machines are real estate brokers, animal breeders, tax advisers, data entry workers, receptionists and various personal assistants.

But you won’t need to pack up your desk and hand over to a computer just yet, and in fact jobs that require a certain level of social intelligence and creativity such as in education, healthcare, the arts and media are likely to remain in demand from humans, because such tasks remain difficult to be computerized.

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Retrial of Oracle Copyright Infringement Case Against Google Begins

Nearly six years after it filed its original complaint, Oracle is bringing Google to court Monday in a bid to get the Mountain View tech giant to pay for copyright infringement.

The dispute began in 2010. Google had used source code from Java, a programming language owned by Oracle, in some programming interfaces for Android, an operating system primarily for smartphones. Oracle accused Google of copyright infringement in its use of Java and sought damages. Oracle acquired Java with its purchase of Sun Microsystems in 2010. Google argued it should be permitted to use Java in programming interfaces under the “fair use” doctrine.

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4 tips to help switch marketing automation systems

Switching from one marketing automation platform to another is a headache most organizations would probably rather avoid. Such transitions are often costly and can sap the motivation and morale of sales and marketing teams tasked with learning new programs. A change of providers can also delay brands’ abilities to launch new campaigns, and it sometimes takes time to incorporate the appropriate data into the new systems.

Despite those challenges, changes of marketing automation tech are often necessary. These four tips can mean the difference between a smooth switch and some make bad decisions that cannot be undone.

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7 ways to prevent mobile break-in

With billions of mobile devices on the market, locking hackers out of them is imperative.

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