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Digital Update: digital divide, security awareness, and catch basin innovation

Posted on April 23, 2019


Digital Divide

Imagine a day without the Internet. Sounds like a day of mindfulness and meditation more than a day of paying bills, applying for jobs, planning your commute, doing your taxes, or conducting business. Could your kids do their homework without it?

While mobile adoption rates have helped improve access, many low-income households do not have home internet. Students often find themselves writing essays on their phones. And many government forms, especially for safety net services, are not mobile responsive.

On Tuesday, Liza Massey (the County’s new CIO), Daniel Soto, and I met with representatives from the Canal Broadband Network Project, a coalition of nonprofit groups, businesses, schools and government agencies working on reducing the digital divide in the Canal neighborhood. The Marin IJ wrote about this last December.

We plan to meet again in a month to explore how the City and County can partner with business and community groups on this issue. In addition, Daniel Soto is planning to take this issue on as his capstone project for his MPA, by researching options and funding models. Learn more about his initial research in this blog post.

Security Awareness Program

“Cybercriminals are finding local government agencies to be prime targets for cyberattacks. The City of Atlanta is a recent example, where a ransomware attack is costing the city millions of dollars, after knocking out critical services and erasing years of sensitive data. This incident shows how, without data, our communities cease to function in any sort of fashion today’s citizens find acceptable. Data protection needs to be top of mind no matter the size of the community or agency.”

– Jim Varner, CEO and president of SecurityFirst

It is that time of the year again and as part of the City’s efforts to address the increasing threats to the security of our information systems and data, all employees and volunteers with access to a computer are required to complete Cyber Security Awareness training course.

We know it’s not easy to find the time to take these courses so we will be sending out an email reminder every two weeks to encourage your participation in case you forget. Each email will include instructions on how to access the courses.

Each of us has a responsibility to safeguard the information entrusted to the City. This training program will better prepare us fulfill our responsibility to safeguard data and to strengthen us against security threats. Adopting behaviors that protects information benefits the City, and can benefit you and your family, as well.

ELGL Inspire + Urban Innovation

On Friday, I co-hosted an event at Mills College called ELGL Inspire that connects public sector leaders to undergraduate and graduate level students from Mills, UC Berkeley, Cal State East Bay, and other Bay Area universities. We’ve assembled a diverse panel, including two of our own: Danielle O’Leary and Rafat Raie! Our goal is to show the variety of career paths in local government — from public safety to transportation to digital — and inspire a new generation of government leaders.

On Monday, I’m heading the UC Berkeley as a guest lecturer for the Urban Innovation class in the MBA program. I’ve been asked to share San Rafael’s perspective on how government can innovate and what tech companies need to understand about local government. Here are my slides. I even got to assign the class some readings, so they will have all read Jim’s recent article in PM Magazine 🙂

Catch Basin Innovation

Zak Baron was recently invited to the Port of Oakland to share a Stormwater Inspection app he built using our GIS system, ESRI. Beyond sharing the technical aspects of the solution he created, he also discussed an issue common to governments: accuracy of existing datasets. Zak shared with them how important it has been to create an way for our public works crews to easily update information from the field. By making it easy and simple, our database increases its integrity each year. Thank you Zak, for not just building a lightweight solution that makes a difference but also for helping to scale this innovation to other governments.

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