AI Is on the Upswing in State Government

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

When it comes to artificial intelligence, most states are just beginning to uncover its potential.

As I discussed in a recent webinar, AI usage thus far has been mostly experimental. Recent survey data from the Center for Digital Government demonstrates that nearly a third of those surveyed about their current deployment of AI are doing so through proof-of-concept projects.

While widespread use of AI is not taking place, the good news is that the share of states NOT using AI is only 12% — meaning there are far more states open to using AI than not. This is a wide-open field with few standards or common threads from project to project and provides an opportunity for AI vendors to approach state and local governments with their technology. Read more of this post

State & Local Governments Focus on Continuity of Operations

Rachel Eckert

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Fiscal environments at the state and local government level are very different today than they were even a few weeks ago. Budgets presented earlier this year are now being adjusted, as many governments face an upcoming revenue shortfall.

Taxes that would have been collected on our trips to the movies, restaurants and shopping malls are now not flowing into government treasuries. Fairfax County, Virginia, for example, is predicting significantly less revenue due to drops in sales tax collections, hotel occupancy taxes, car taxes, business taxes and more. With less revenue, they will have to delay some or all new programs, including additional funding for school technology purchases, police body cameras and affordable housing.

The impact is felt beyond Fairfax County. Seattle, Washington is predicting a revenue shortfall of $110 million. The State of New York comptroller has estimated that the current crisis could cost the state $7 billion in lost revenues for their fiscal year 2021, which started April 1.

State and local governments will still need to acquire IT though. As they navigate the current fiscal environment they will only be able to think about what’s most essential for their continued operations. Here’s how you can help support their critical needs: Read more of this post

Collaboration and Innovation Top of Mind at NASCIO Conference

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

The overwhelming theme at this year’s NASCIO conference centered on the idea of innovation. Throughout the event, state CIOs shared their innovative approaches to managing IT and the business of government.

One of the innovative approaches was increasing collaboration with local governments. Collaboration between state and local government isn’t necessarily new, but today it means much more and goes way beyond funding and MOUs.

Shared Goals

One innovative approach state and local governments are taking to collaboration involves a shared goal. For example, in the wake of the many recent high-profile ransomware attacks, state CIOs shared that they’d received an increase in support requests from their local governments. Read more of this post

Mayors Reveal Visions and Goals for New Fiscal Year

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

As we approach the start of a new fiscal year for many local governments, we’ve been able to catch a glimpse of the visions and goals for the upcoming year through State of the City addresses that highlight a city’s budget, goals and key issues. The importance of understanding these issues is the first step towards creating lasting relationships with local municipalities.

The National League of Cities has just released their 2019 State of the Cities Report  which analyzes the content of 153 of those State of the City speeches from around the country from cities of all sizes. Here are the top ten issues:

  1. Economic Development
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Health & Human Services
  4. Budgets & Management
  5. Energy & Environment
  6. Housing
  7. Public Safety
  8. Demographics
  9. Education
  10. Government Data & Technology

Most of the issues are not specifically technology related, however, that doesn’t mean that technology isn’t a vital component. Understanding the issues and what activities a city is planning to undertake to address them can give you insight into areas of opportunity. Read more of this post

What is a Smart City?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Most of us who have been in and around the state, local and education space (SLED) have seen the term “smart city” more times than we can count. A simple search for “what is a smart city” returns dozens of examples, definitions and solution sheets that explain specific implementations being done under the heading of “smart city.” In a nutshell, a smart city is one that aims to improve the delivery of services to its citizens using technology.

That’s a simple definition and easy enough to understand, but, how does a city become smart? What technologies do they use to be smart? How does a vendor approach a city to make it smarter? And when you add in the typical SLED wrinkle with each city being its own fiefdom, finding a common definition and a strategy to target a smart city is understandably difficult.

Let’s dive into that definition a bit deeper. Cities provide all sorts of services to their citizens including public safety, transportation, health care and more. Each year, cities see their populations grow, thus increasing the number of people to whom they must now provide those public safety, transportation or health care services. The problem is that most cities aren’t seeing the same increase in budgets, leaving them with taxed resources and an ever-growing mission.

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Smart Governments Get Smarter with AI

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

It’s no secret that state and local governments are getting smarter, rolling out smart city pilots that range from smart street lights to entire smart transportation corridors. The deployment of Internet of Things technologies is enabling governments to become smarter and faster, but can they do more?

In one word, yes!

Artificial Intelligence is that tool, the tool that can enable state and local governments to connect seamlessly with citizens, speed processing time and facilitate a more connected government. In the consumer world, AI is being used for marketing in technologies like virtual assistants that learn our lifestyle, preferences, schedule, etc. and recommend products and services tailored to us.

Read more of this post

Opportunity for Vendors to Shape IoT Standards in State Government

Rachel Eckert_100 x 135

By Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Like many other states, Ohio has a multitude of smart, connected projects that include a drone detection system, autonomous and connected vehicle corridors, and a federally funded smart city project in Columbus. You can now find another project underway: the development of a new common framework for the state’s digital transportation technologies.

A contract to create this framework was awarded to AECOM Technical Services and is pending state legislative approval. AECOM has been tasked with developing strategies to ensure device interoperability, proper data management and effective government-industry partnerships. The goal of this exercise is to make sure that all of the technology developments that go into creating autonomous vehicles can be implemented on standardized technology platforms that will enable an autonomous vehicle to traverse the entire state without problems.

To understand the magnitude of an endeavor like this, you must understand how the typical IoT or “smart” project is developed. Typically, governments develop ideas and pilots in a vacuum, each embarking on their own “from scratch” initiative. Each initiative requires the development of infrastructure and networking, selection of devices, deployment of technology, and collection of data and analysis. For governments like the City of Columbus, this doesn’t present an insurmountable task as many of the necessary pieces already exist. However, where this becomes a barrier is at smaller local governments who don’t have the staff, resources or funding to plan and implement each of those steps.

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How you can help cash-strapped states get funding

Rachel EckertSLED, funding grantsBy Rachel Eckert, consultant

Budgets are tight for state and local governments and education (SLED) and there is no relief in sight.

An expanding list of priorities and mandates are competing for funds that don’t seem to be growing at the same rate. With efforts focused on legacy application migration or other mammoth projects, where does SLED find the funds for new and innovative technology? Grants.

Grants and federal assistance can provide those funds to explore new and innovative technology and programs like the internet of things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles. They also provide funds to address major challenges like the opioid crisis. State and local governments and educational institutions can apply for funding that can help to continue efforts to drive innovation in government. And for industry, this means that tight budgets don’t have to push your deals.

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3 ways to be part of smart transportation

Rachel Eckert Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

Transportation is increasingly becoming more connected as part of ongoing smart cities/states initiatives. States are connecting transit and working on multi-modal systems to facilitate easier and quicker commutes that efficiently move people and goods throughout a region.

This requires a great deal of data, compelling state and local governments to look to the private sector to develop technology that can collect, store, analyze and visualize that data. This information can then be turned into things like mobile applications that allow users to purchase tickets for buses and other transit through one streamlined application.

Here are three ways state and local governments could be utilizing this data:

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What you need to do to sell IoT security to state and local

Lloyd McCoy Jr.IoT, cybersecurity, SLEDBy Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

State and local governments are becoming more proactive in their approach to IT and cybersecurity, together spending more than the federal government. They will invest $101.3 billion on IT this year, with counties and states increasing their budget by about 1.5 percent annually, according to e.Republic.

It’s safe to say a good portion of their budgets will be spent on cybersecurity, a push triggered by the internet of things (IoT) and how it’s being used for smart cities projects. State IT executives are more aware of IoT cybersecurity implications than at the federal level because they’re dealing with certain functions only at the municipal level like industrial systems and facilities HVAC.

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