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By GCN Staff


Boston upgrades emergency notification system

Boston upgrades emergency notification system

Boston is making it easier to send relevant, timely and tailored emergency alerts to residents.

Based on feedback from city residents, the Office of Emergency Management upgraded AlertBoston, the city’s emergency notification system, so that the city can broadcast messages via phone, text or email. The new system’s tailored outreach feature is able to send messages only to those in areas directly affected by an event, based on a user’s geographic location. And to accommodate the city’s diverse population, the city will broadcast alerts like severe weather warnings, parking bans and street closures in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.

AlertBoston is provided by CodeRED, a provider of alert systems to cities throughout the United States. Residents who subscribe to AlertBoston receive notifications directly to their personal cell phone whether at home, on the road, or traveling around the country. An app is also available.

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 at 8:43 AM0 comments


Virginia to host cyber-physical systems summit

Virginia to host cyber-physical systems summit

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will host a two-day cybersecurity event in Newport News that will bring together public- and private-sector experts to discuss autonomy, the Internet of Things, cyber-critical infrastructure as well as the security of medical devices and motor vehicles.

The Sept. 20-22 Cyber-Physical Systems Summit will feature several roundtable sessions that are being held in conjunction with the National Governors Association's “Meet the Threat” initiative (McAuliffe is this year’s NGA chairman).

“This type of collaboration is essential to staying on top of growing trends in this fast-moving industry and staying ahead of criminals across the globe who are working every day to undermine the security of our technological resources and our communities,” McAuliffe said in a press release.

Karen Jackson, the secretary of technology for Virginia, said on Cyber Virginia’s website that the state faces 200,000 “incurable” cyber-attacks every day.

McAuliffe’s office also announced recently that it would be offering scholarships to students studying cybersecurity at Virginia institutions. The scholarship recipients have to commit to working for a state agency after graduation.

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:08 AM0 comments


Illinois accelerates mobile app delivery

Illinois accelerates mobile app delivery

Residents of Illinois will get mobile access to popular services, thanks to the state’s Going Mobile initiative, which will release a new app each month.

To jump-start the program, the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology released four new apps:

  • ILocate aims to help citizens find state agencies in selected areas of the state
  • A DoIT app provides services and ordering capabilities for technology solutions
  • A new app for the state fair provides event information for the annual fair.
  • A revised version of the Student Mobile Portal app will help prospective and future college students navigate the college planning process from finding a school to figuring our funds.

“These apps provide easy to use solutions for citizens and state employees alike, for tools such as event participation, business and personal license access and renewals, and government services information,” Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt said.

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:27 AM0 comments


Phishing scheme targets tax professionals

Phishing scheme targets tax professionals

A new phishing scheme claiming to provide software updates is targeting tax professionals.

Fraudulent emails are being sent to tax preparers with “bogus links” asking recipients upgrade their software, according to the IRS. The link redirects to a website where users are prompted to download an update that uses the name of their software with an .exe extension, according to the IRS.

Tax professionals may believe they have downloaded a software update, but they have installed a program that will track their key strokes, which can be used to steal login information, passwords and other sensitive data.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stressed the importance of remaining wary of cybercriminals.

“We have more than 700,000 tax preparers in this country, with many of those taking good security precautions,” Koskinen said in a recent statement. “But cybercriminals are continuing to evolve, using new technology, ruses and scams. The tax community handles large volumes of sensitive personal and financial information. We need every tax professional to stay on top of their security to protect taxpayers as well as their businesses.”

Posted on Aug 16, 2016 at 7:22 AM0 comments


USDA helps students get hands-on data science experience

USDA helps students get hands-on data science experience

Forty Washington, D.C. area high-school and middle school students spent part of their summer vacation at Open Data Summer Camp, learning how to apply data science to food safety and agricultural issues.

Working with the Department of Agriculture, New York University’s Governance Lab designed a curriculum to help students understand the fundamentals of data science and how it can be used to study agricultural issues such as the monetary costs of foodborne illness.

Using data supplied by USDA, the students worked with tools and data science methodologies to get experience gathering and cleaning data, analysis, visualization and presentation. They created blog posts, spreadsheets and surveys, and learned to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Tableau and CartoDB.

“As more government data becomes available for re-use and redistribution… we need more people to be able to use that data to solve hard problems,” GovLab’s Director Beth Noveck said. “The Open Data Summer Camp aims to get kids excited about data and about public service and, hopefully, inspire a next generation of more data-literate public servants.”

Posted on Aug 05, 2016 at 1:02 PM0 comments