By GCN Staff

Philadelphia opens contracts datasets

The city of Philadelphia released procurement-related datasets that will let citizens more closely mind the public’s business.

The data, from the city’s contracts for supplies, equipment, non-professional services and public works services, will be made available through the city’s open data website.

Members of the public will now be able to view procurement data summarized and contextualized, according to types of contract information. Summaries of the datasets will breakdown dollars by vendor and contract type as well as list the top 20 largest contracts and soon to expire contracts. 

A “frequently asked questions” section will also help guide interested citizens who wish to better understand the data they are viewing and download the information into either a spreadsheet or CSV format. 

The open data website, hosted by GitHub, will be updated on a quarterly basis.  The city ultimately envisions integrating all datasets into one file, which will let the public search all city contracts in one place.

The data transparency project was initiated by city’s Procurement Department, Chief Integrity Officer and Office of Innovation and Technology.  

“Prior to this release, important data on procurement contracts, including which company was the lowest bidder for a project, was not accessible online,” said Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. “I am proud to say that the public can now find information on all city contracts in a simple, searchable format.”  

Posted on Mar 17, 2015 at 10:14 AM0 comments

Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

The city of Seattle, known for its innovation, is trying to live up to its reputation with its Technology Matching Fund to provide capital for innovative ideas for improving city services and public access to digital resources.

This year the city has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The city is looking to support projects that, “increase technology literacy, provide access to computers, the Internet and other information technologies and increase civic participation in the use of technology,” according to a notice in Brainstorm, the city government’s community technology e-zine.

Award recipients will be those whose ideas will improve digital equity by “connecting traditionally underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation,” according to the city. 

Established in 1997, the fund was originally intended to “to support the community's efforts to close the digital divide and encourage a technology-healthy city.” 

Past ideas that received funding include projects providing basic technology skills to low income households, upgrading computer labs for senior citizens to provide Internet and Facebook training, assistive technology for people with disabilities and providing online job search and computer training to help immigrants obtain jobs. 

Seattle also offers funding opportunities for school-based projects, though  they must come from proposals by parent-teacher-student groups as schools are not allowed to apply directly.  If awarded to a school-oriented project,  the funds will only go to after school events and projects. 

Meanwhile, the city has launched a digital equity initiative to improve computer skills and online services for Seattle residents. In the next few months, the city said it will seek input from experts and community members to draft a plan for the program.

“As a city, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 at 12:23 PM0 comments

GSA seeks .gov TLD management solutions

General Services Administration officials are looking for ways to keep its .gov program adaptable to evolving uses of the Internet and its domain system..

GSA released a request for information to learn about solutions, best practices, and on-going approaches to perform all aspects of top-level domain (TLD) Internet registration service for federal, state, local governments through the agency’s secure website DOTGOV.gov

The GSA has been managing registrations for the .gov domain since it was delegated to the agency by the National Science Foundation in 1997.

Prospective  solutions should include electronic processing of requests, an electronic payment processing mechanism that collects payments, and a function that provides ad hoc reporting to GSA. Helpdesk support, a Domain Name Service Security program, and a secure database to store and manage important information retrieved during the registration process are also requested.

As GSA officials see it, the solution would build upon the existing .gov framework and would require a zone file of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 active, second-level domain registrations. They also want a solution that is scalable, because they anticipate an annual 5-percent growth of registrations and data. For a five-year contract, the overall growth would reach an estimated 25 percent.

Responses are due by March 23.

This article originally appeared on WashingtonTechnology, a sister site to GCN.

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 at 2:36 PM0 comments

NORTHCOM seeks disaster sim, with social component

The 24/7 social news stream has added a layer of complexity to disaster response. Agencies providing disaster relief services are now working in an increasingly changing media landscape in which they must not only meet the needs of the mission but also manage the flow of information about the response efforts.

To address training needs for both disaster response and managing the message, the U.S.  Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command issued a sources sought solicitation for an off-the-shelf customizable disaster management modeling and simulation (M&S) tool along with a social media emulation platform that will support exercises and training.

In the notice, NORTHCOM said that it expects to use the system for exercises focusing on M&S alone, the M&S in parallel with social media emulation or M&S where social media is an integrated capability. Furthermore, the disaster management platforms must be integrated and able to exchange database and mapping information, the notice said.

NORTHCOM expects potential sources to establish an “Exercise Social Media Web Portal,” which would be a password-protected website where trainers could upload and stream videos, print stories, photographs, blogs and other posts that “look and function like current, relevant mainstream and social media sites but which are isolated from the emulated real-world media sites.”  The portal also must be able to manage up to 1,200 accounts with various permissions levels and be able to post social media content to sites approximating Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger.

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 at 11:31 AM0 comments

Secure browsing, messaging skyrockets after high-profile hacks

Secure browsing, messaging skyrockets after high-profile hacks

Secure browsing topped a list of the most activated mobile applications  in the last year, according to a report by enterprise mobile management firm Good Technology, which estimated that secure browsing rose 197 percent quarter over quarter and was the most activated app in 2014, increasing tenfold.

Citing the catastrophic damage from the hacking at the U.S. Central Command, the Sony Studio attacks and a recent breach in 30 banks in over 100 countries, Good said enterprise demand for secure mobile browsing was accelerating and with it an interest in overall app security.

“With the rapid ascent of these attacks, [organizations] of all sizes are investing in and activating mobile apps that have been designed for security from the inside out,” according to the company’s Mobile Index Report for Q4 of 2014.

 “A secure browser reduces the risk on mobile devices, where traditional anti-malware and firewall solutions are typically not in place,” the report added.

In addition to secure browsing, secure instant messaging also rose, with a 131 percent jump last quarter and a nine-fold increase throughout the year, according to the report.

Good CEO and chairman Christy Wyatt acknowledged that the end user is “often the weakest link in any security model.”  As a result, it’s critical that enterprise IT managers ensure that “employees, customers and partners are using secure-based apps across mobile workflows is [to build] cyber resiliency,” she said.

Good also announced new products, including support for user access to enterprise apps via the Apple Touch ID feature on iOS devices. With IT department enablement, users can access any Good-secured app using their fingerprints on Apple smartphones and tablets without affecting Good's container security. This feature might be especially useful in the public sector where adoption of iOS devices is greater. iOS makes up 82 percent of devices in the public sector, Good said, possibly because of the perception of security issues across the fragmented Android landscape.

The company also said it would provide secure data and content access on wearable devices through the Good Dynamics Platform. The platform secures business data stored on wearables and shared between other Good secured apps.

Posted on Mar 09, 2015 at 1:46 PM0 comments