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Preparing for the future, meeting user expectations and managing new risks

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

Don’t miss the Special Districts Fall Virtual Summit on Sept. 21. We’re assembling an all-star panel of district leaders and industry experts for an important session on preparing your people, processes and technologies for the future. You’ll find out how the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, which manages intercity passenger rail service in northern California, is using secure wireless and wired technologies to create its connectivity platform for the future. And you’ll hear great ideas for transforming internal operations and meeting constituent expectations from districts highlighted in our National Innovation Showcase. Register now to secure your spot at this unique 60-minute virtual event — designed by special districts leaders for special districts leaders.

Transforming Constituent Experience

All organizations — from online retailers to government agencies — are under pressure to give their customers a better and more convenient digital experience. Our National Innovation Showcase features multiple special districts that are using technology to transform how they interact with constituents. Here are two great examples:

Check out how the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which provides public transit in the greater Boston area, created an easy-to-use online application for its Youth Pass reduced fare program.

And see how the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in the San Francisco Bay area launched a suite of interactive online maps to engage residents in redrawing boundaries for its seven wards.

Tell Your District’s Story

Does your district have its own success story? Tell us! All year long, we’ve been collecting great examples of how special districts are using advanced technologies to address real-world challenges. We’re showcasing these ideas on the Special Districts Program website — and we’ll recognize the top 10 submissions this fall as our 2022 Innovation Award Winners and name one overall District of the Year.

It’s a great opportunity to highlight your district’s accomplishments and share ideas with our special districts community. There’s still time to get in the running for a 2022 award, but the deadline is approaching fast. Send us your submission – it’s easy! – by Sept. 20 for consideration.

District Spotlight: New Transit Tech Risks

A new report from the Mineta Transportation Institute highlights the growing cybersecurity risks that public transit systems are being exposed to as technology becomes more integral to daily operations.

Weekly ransomware attacks on transit systems have increased by 186% since June 2020, according to the report. And as the industry morphs into a more holistic transportation service — integrating with micro-mobility; exploring the use of autonomous vehicles; and upgrading systems to contactless ticketing, onboard Wi-Fi and other improvements — the entry points for outside interference keep expanding.

The report notes that larger public transit organizations are creating chief information security officer positions to help address the risk. It also recommends writing cybersecurity requirements into procurement RFPs and developing enterprise risk management strategies.

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