Technology

CSG Midwest
Law enforcement in Illinois has new guidelines to follow when it uses so-called “stingray devices,” which help track criminal suspects and enable the collection of information from their phone calls and text messages. These devices trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a cell phone tower operated by a service provider. As a result, they can be a powerful tool in helping police nab suspects. But at the same time, these cell phone simulators are collecting information from the phones of innocent people who happen to be in the same area.

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

CSG Midwest
A fiber optic connection is considered the “gold standard” for quality, high-speed Internet access, and in the Midwest, it’s in pretty short supply.
Except in North Dakota.
In the region’s most sparsely populated state, 60 percent of the households, including those on farms in far-flung areas, have fiber. (That compares to 24 percent in the Midwest, where most of the existing fiber networks serve urban areas.) In all, North Dakota ranks fifth in the nation in fiber access.This is amazing enough, considering many of the obstacles typically cited as responsible for the dearth of high-speed technologies in rural parts of the Midwest — for example, the high costs of serving low-density areas.
But the story of North Dakota’s prominence in fiber access is also a testament to entrepreneurship in the nation’s heartland, and perhaps a model for the rest of the Midwest.

Telematics—the technology of sending, receiving and storing information relating to vehicles via telecommunication devices—appears likely to have a significant impact on traditional insurance models in the years ahead. Telematics, for example, allows for the measurement of actual driving habits based on a vehicle’s real-time driving data. This non-partisan and non-advocative webinar, presented in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, examines how the technology works, how telematics is impacting insurance models and products, and how public policymakers are considering the myriad questions and challenges this innovation presents.

Driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions. State leaders have taken action. In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Nine years later, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans.

By Doug Robinson
The state government information technology, or IT, landscape continues to evolve and respond to significant changes reflecting demands of citizens, evolving business models, emerging technologies and the faster paced, more complex environment faced by state chief information officers. Based on recent surveys and data from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, or NASCIO, state CIOs face several “forces of change” that require state IT leaders to adapt, evolve and respond to new demands and opportunities.

In May, more than 50 state policymakers, federal experts and private-sector representatives convened for two-and-a-half days in Seattle for The Council of State Governments’ second annual Cybersecurity and Privacy Policy Academy.

by Kelly Samson-Rickert
Building a stronger workforce is a challenge for any state, but building and recruiting a workforce prepared to tackle a state’s information technology needs is a particularly complex challenge. In an effort to do just that, the Maine Office of Information Technology, or OIT, has developed a workforce development program—an effort to ensure that the state is equipped to provide the latest in information technology services not only today, but in the future as well.

State leaders across the country are focused on preparing their workforce for the new digital economy. Meeting the employer demand for workers with digital literacy and skills is the key to successful state workforce development plans. When Congress updated the Workforce Investment Act in 2014 through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, an emphasis on digital literacy was made a requirement of state workforce development plans. States now must include a focus on enhancing digital literacy skills for workforce participants.

by Gary Rawson

Some progress has been made to narrow the digital divide among the households and classrooms of urban and rural America. More people have access to the internet today than five or 10 years ago. School students and library patrons now have access to broadband that wasn’t there just a few years ago, and more people now have access to the internet through their smartphones. While this progress should be celebrated, there is much yet to do to ensure that access to broadband services reaches all corners of this nation.

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