By Shannon Riess
Information is key whenever a disaster strikes. Lack of information could be detrimental to populations, neighborhoods and local economies. Many of the technological advances in the field of emergency management have been developed in order to solve the information problem and increase situational awareness. Data allows emergency managers to create a common operating picture that can help the state to predict and mitigate against the impacts of disasters, identify at-risk populations and respond to those areas in need, and recover from the effects of a disaster when a threat has passed. Information systems and emergency management specific software have led states to carry out their missions faster, better and more cost efficiently.
At any given moment, your data can be hacked and sold to the highest bidder. Very likely, sensitive data can be stolen and corrupted, possibly taking your entire organization to its knees. Neither of these outcomes is beneficial for your organization. In fact, the consequences can be devastating. It doesn’t take an information technology specialist to understand and be proactive in protecting your state’s cyber assets. In fact, assuring cybersecurity requires all members of an organization—including a state government—to protect themselves, their members and organization by asking a few simple questions and following procedures. What’s more, lawmakers share fiduciary responsibility to oversee the cybersecurity risks for a state.
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.
The emergence of digital government and the power and potential of data have expanded dramatically in the last 10 years. Social media has become ubiquitous. Open data, which makes data sets available to all citizens, often through state websites, has become ever more commonplace since 2009. And the daily media attention to “Big Data” started around 2012. But although state governments are floating in a sea of data, the management and governance of this new kind of asset has tended to be weak, and sometimes close to nonexistent. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers’, or NASCIO’s, survey of CIOs in 2015 noted that technology directors are “wrestling with a host of challenges around data governance, legacy data, data access and sharing, and major new flows of data from new sources.”
For the first time, new U.S. Geological Survey maps identify potential earthquake activity caused by both human-induced and natural events. Prior to this year’s report, USGS maps only outlined natural earthquake hazards. The rise of human-induced earthquakes creates a new hazard zone and many states are trying to prepare for a kind of natural disaster that they haven’t had to deal with in the past.
As the weather warms and visitors flock to state parks, they may find fewer amenities, shorter hours and higher fees. After years of budget cuts, many state park directors have had to make tough calls about how to make up for the shortfalls and find creative solutions for raising revenue.
If you are interested in federalism, much of the action has been at the U.S. Supreme Court in the last few years. This is true of the court’s current term and will likely be true of the next few terms.
The tricky thing about understanding how the Supreme Court views federalism is it is impossible to know—particularly in the big cases—what is really motivating the justices. When the majority of the court reaches an outcome favoring states’ rights over federal supremacy, is it out of respect for states’ rights or because the justices wanted a particular outcome based on ideology? For example, in the same-sex marriage cases last term, does the vote of the majority justices illustrate their lack of enthusiasm for states as laboratories of democracy or their belief that the majority of Americans were ready to accept same-sex marriage … or both or neither? While justices’ opinions offer a view into their reasoning, particular points may be overemphasized or left unsaid.
"After 10 years of uncertainty and 36 short-term extensions, it’s wonderful to start the year with a five-year transportation bill,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said to applause at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 13.
Signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 4, 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act authorizes federal highway, highway safety, transit and rail programs through fiscal year 2020 and provides $305 billion in funding from the Highway Trust Fund and the General Fund. The legislation is the first long-term surface transportation bill passed by Congress since 2005.
None were happier to see the bill pass than state transportation officials.
Ask some Americans about the federal government and they bluntly describe its flaws and failings. Ask them about what the government should do—and how it actually performs—and they tell a very different story.
A national survey by Pew Research Center, based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted last fall, found that the public has a complicated relationship with its government. At a general level, trust in government is low, frustration is high, and there is broad sense that the government is in dire need of reform.
Just 19 percent said they could trust the federal government always or most of the time, among the lowest figures in surveys dating back more than half a century. An equally low share, just 20 percent, said the federal government does a good job of running its programs.