Plans are on track to staff the federal government’s U.S. Digital Services and 18F with 500 employees by the end of the year, White House Senior Adviser and former U.S. CTO Todd Park, pictured below, confirmed in early October. The substantial staffing increase — up from 220 people at the time of the announcement — highlights the feds’ continuing commitment to improving IT development and project management.
Likely to be watched closely by other states and lawmaking bodies, a new bill in California requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before looking at digital communications like email, text messages and GPS data. The bill, which was supported by numerous tech companies, is an attempt to reconcile outdated privacy laws with relatively new technology.
On citizen engagement: “The key services that agencies can deliver through citizen engagement are all of them. Whether it’s emergency management, access to better student loan information, veteran’s health. You run down the gamut of public services and there are none that can’t be improved with better engagement." -- Justin Herman, SocialGov Lead, U.S. General Services Administration
Oct. 1 marked the official shift in liability for credit card fraud from banks to merchants not meeting the standards set by Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and that includes governments accepting debit and credit card transactions. Operators must either replace magnetic payment terminals with more secure chip-enabled systems or risk being held responsible in the event a card is used fraudulently. Some say the risk of fraud is lower for government transactions, casting doubt on whether the public sector will be quick to invest in newer card processing technology.
It’s predicted that 700,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be sold this holiday season, and all those drone owners will have a new protocol to follow. In response to several near-misses between UAVs and regular air traffic, the FAA announced that it will require drone owners to register devices with aviation authorities. The FAA said pilot sightings of UAVs have doubled since 2014 and there have been issues with private drones interfering with response to wildfires.
Faced with a steady stream of cybersecurity breaches, IT professionals are participating more in threat intelligence exchanges, according to the Ponemon Institute. Its report found that 47 percent of the 692 IT professionals surveyed had experienced a material cybersecurity breach in the past two years. To help mitigate those attacks, the majority of respondents, 81 percent, are enlisting threat intelligence. In addition, more IT professionals are sharing details about cyberthreats — the exchange of intel through peer-to-peer networks grew from 57 percent in 2014 to 65 percent this year.
Twitter announces plans to roll out a public polling feature, saying the anonymized voting system would let users weigh in on the topics that matter most to them. The tool provides the public sector with a new means of directly connecting with citizens, especially for agencies that have already amassed a large social media following.
The Digital Cities Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government, recognized dozens of U.S. cities as the most strategic, efficient and innovative users of public-sector tech. This year’s top winners have developed a mature infrastructure that lets city leaders experiment with projects that are molded in the image of the average citizen’s lifestyle. Divided into four population categories, the first-place winners were Philadelphia; Alexandria, Va.; Avondale, Ariz.; and Shawnee, Kan.
As part of Boston’s effort to change its reputation with citizens, numerous updates have been made to the city’s permits and licensing platform including new functionality that allows users to apply for multiple permits simultaneously, and build a team of project partners, homeowners and contractors needed to advance the process more quickly. Incremental improvements have been made to the system over the last year, said CIO Jascha Franklin-Hodge, and new features will continue to be rolled out in 2016.
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.
Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.