With so much of our activity and interaction being digital, the Internet is now a utility nearly as critical to daily functioning as heat or water. Inequitable access to broadband Internet access became quickly apparent during the pandemic lock down when kids lacked access to virtual school and adults were unable to complete work from their homes. Increasing broadband access is a key part of the bipartisan infrastructure law and is also supported by the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. This funding is a huge step in rolling out broadband access nationwide, but there are many questions that need to be addressed to truly close the digital divide.
Where: Defining the Need
To effectively provide broadband, the government has to know where exactly it is needed. The Federal Communications Commission's broadband fabric map shows where fixed broadband access could be installed and has recently added more than one million new locations as well as removed over 1 million that were found to be mapped to structures such as garages and sheds. Being able to differentiate if an address is a residential or commercial building, a large property housing multiple families, or simply a storage shed is critical to ensuring that new broadband access is provided where it is actually needed. Agencies are working to combine this type of contextual data with the address mapping data to better plan broadband roll outs.Continue reading →
State and local governments tend to be the early adopters of emerging technology in the public sector. Smart city projects, grant management, and regional collaboration have driven localities to implement emerging technology to meet the real challenges of serving citizens. Today, states and localities are experimenting with how virtual reality, and more specifically the metaverse, can help further real-world connections in communities.
Trained by Avatars
Virtual reality has long been used as a tool for training in government - think flight simulators - but today, the technology is being used for more than just tactical training. Virtual reality is helping to introduce scenarios to improve the empathy and understanding of public servants. In the metaverse, public safety professionals can safely simulate responding to dangerous situations (without the real-world risks) while also adding in realistic interactions with "people" behaving as they would during a crisis.Continue reading →
In the last 12 months, more than 769,000 cybersecurity jobs were posted in the United States. Unfortunately, there are not enough trained cyber professionals to meet this need across government and private industry, but the roles need to be filled. A report issued by theGovernment Accountability Office(GAO) in late 2021 named the cybersecurity skills gap as aleading cause of risk for Federal agencies. To meet this need and risk head-on, the government is coming up with creative ways to fill cyber positions.
The DoD had been looking to set up military-style academies focused on cyber education; however, the direction has shifted in the latest National Defense Authorization Act. The latest proposal recommends establishing a DOD Cyber and Digital Service Academy within existing universities and colleges. This means that students studying certain cyber and digital service disciplines could receive up to five years of tuition and room and board. In exchange, recipients would agree to work for the DoD for the same number of years that they received the scholarship. This is not unprecedented. The National Science Foundation's CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program has been in place since 2000. It has placed over 4,500 people in government organizations including DoD, the National Security Agency and state and local governments in return for their scholarship.Continue reading →
In-person events are back in force, but we're all a little rusty at networking. Anyone who has attended an in-person event recently has likely had the conversation with fellow attendees, "Wow, I'm not sure how to do this anymore." To help us all get back in our groove, we wanted to pull together a list of tried and true as well as some new tips to make your attendance at the next government networking event feel a bit more natural.Continue reading →
With the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan, and now infrastructure funding, state and local governments have a large pipeline of grant options to help further citizen support. In fact, White House initiatives aimed at providing relief to citizens total nearly $6 trillion.
However, applying for and later managing those grants can be an incredibly burdensome, and often manual process. With a wide variety of variables that need to be carried out and measured, the management of these grants involves a large number of people from multiple constituencies both within a state agency and outside it including grant applicants and recipients, various levels of government and agencies, and affiliated nonprofits. Multiple surveysand studies have shown that grantee organizations spend more than 40% of their grant resources on administration activities alone.Continue reading →