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.

On Sunday, June 12, Broadway stars will gather for theater’s biggest night, the Tony Awards. Aired live, viewers across the country will get their chance to see and hear the cast of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” But ticket bots have made it difficult for Broadway fans, especially fans of the ultra popular show about one of the nation’s founding fathers, to see shows in person; and the same applies for concerts and sporting events. State leaders are trying to fix the problem while urging fans to be careful about purchasing from third-party sellers. At least a dozen states have laws that ban ticket bots, software that allows scalpers to quickly snag large quantities of tickets online. In addition, a bill that would prohibit the software was introduced in Congress last year.

Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue what is being billed as a model state policy as well as “best-practice guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully autonomous vehicles.” Then, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will follow suit with more detailed guidelines and materials in support of the policy this fall. Those two documents are likely to kick off what many believe will be a busy couple of years at the state and federal levels in determining how driverless vehicles will take the roads and the complex policy changes that may be needed to accommodate them. But while many states anxiously await that guidance, a couple are already making moves to accelerate the autonomous future in significant ways.

The chaos that unfolded with the 2000 presidential election transformed election administration in the United States. Most jurisdictions used federal money to purchase new voting machines, and guidelines were created to make the voting process more reliable. But that was almost 16 years ago. Technology has advanced, and the machines purchased at that time continue to age. State and local governments across the country are trying to figure out how to get new equipment with little money.

A group of The Council of State Governments’ members recently visited the headquarters of CSG Associate member Esri, an international Geographic Information System, or GIS, software company, in Redlands, Calif., to discuss how to use data and apps to make better policy decisions in their states.

It has been called the sharing economy, the peer-to-peer economy, the app-based economy, the gig economy. New platforms and businesses such as Uber and Airbnb allow individuals to make use of underutilized resources such as their cars and homes, keep their own hours, and pocket the earnings. But with these new platforms have come fundamental concerns about the changing nature of work that expose thorny questions not only for workers, consumers and the businesses themselves but for government at all levels, as well.

California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon chairs the state’s Select Committee on Youth and California’s Future and is a founding member and co-chair of the Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus. He believes technology is a key driver for economic development efforts, and the state can help build the technology infrastructure and ensure the future workforce is well equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.

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.

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