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Alexa, When Will My Leaves Be Picked Up?

County and state government representatives join for a round table discussion of open data and performance tracking programs. 

At the MACo Summer Conference Open Government Work Group Round Table, representatives from Cecil, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Queen Anne’s counties and Baltimore City participated in a discussion of county open data and performance tracking programs.

Representatives of Maryland’s Open Data portal, the Maryland Office of Information Technology, and the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement also joined in the conversation, sharing resources that the State may offer counties seeking to dip a toe in the water of this area of growing interest.

Discussion topics included:

  • How county government leaders can use data to shape a narrative that the public can understand through identifying key outcomes and using those outcomes to define data tracking practices.
  • How county governments can be more responsive to the interests of residents, and businesses through their websites and applications.
  • How state resources in the open data portal may be downloaded for use in county performance tracking.

Victoria Lewis, dataMontgomery Project Manager, shared news of a project in Montgomery County to integrate open source information from the County so that it will be picked up by apps, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

We are focused on finding ways that Joe resident may interact with useful data — without being an analyst.” –Victoria Lewis, dataMontgomery Project Manager

The project is still in testing stages, but promises to be a powerful tool for reaching residents seeking information about key county services, such as leaf pick-ups, or emergency information, such as the nearest location of a shelter, whether there is vacancy there, and whether pets are welcome at that shelter. The application may also assist business owners seeking updates on permit and licensing requests.

Sonny Segal, Montgomery County CIO, also joined the Work Group Meeting. Segal is a member of the Maryland Council on Open Data.

As the conversation wrapped up, the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement invited all attendees to join the next meeting of the Maryland Council on Open Data, which will be held on September 21, 2018, 10 am – 12 pm, 100 Community Place Conference Room, 1st Floor, Crownsville, MD 21032. The meeting is open to the public and county participation is encouraged.

Innovative Climate Leadership Academy Highlighted at 2018 Summer #MACoCon

Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton (L) and Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles (R) discuss the Climate Leadership Academy

MACo Summer Conference Attendees heard about the plans and goals of Maryland’s new Climate Leadership Academy on August 15, 2018. As Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton noted, the Academy is the first state-sponsored program of its kind in the nation and is designed to train county government officials and others on climate change preparation and response.

Belton stated that the Academy was developed in concert with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) and an Advisory Council formed of various state officials and stakeholder groups. Belton also provided an overview of the Maryland Coast Smart Council, 2018 legislation that applied some of the Council’s resiliency criteria to local government projects, and climate change fiscal and technical resources available to county governments.

Subject Areas the Academy Plans to Cover

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles provided an overview of the work on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, which is developing a plan to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from their 2005 levels by 2030.

ACCO Executive Director Daniel Kreeger outlined the first year training plans and actions for the Academy. Participation will be open to leaders from the State; local governments; education institutions; faith-based, community, and other non-governmental organizations; and private businesses. As the Academy’s curriculum is still being refined, the first class/cohort will be offered for free.


Useful Links

Maryland Climate Leadership Academy Website




Don’t Spend Money on Chairs and Tables

A panel of economic development experts provide insight on the funding and infrastructure support available to business start-ups in Maryland. 

In Anchor Your Local Economy with Biotech, a representative of Montgomery County’s Finance Department, joined the COO of TEDCO, and the CEO of Timbre Technologies to share insight on the benefits that life sciences start-up businesses can present for county governments, and the ways that counties may help spur local growth in this sector.

John shared the amount of expertise in the life sciences field positioned in Maryland because of the many federal agencies focused on life sciences work based in Maryland or near Maryland, including NIH and the National Cancer Institute, and research universities such as University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

The question is — how do you turn Maryland’s life sciences resources into start-up opportunities? TEDCO has been working in this area for 20 years. –John Wasilisin, President/COO, TEDCO

Mike shared the range of employees that start-up businesses like his seek – including employees from legal and engineering fields, and with a range of educational backgrounds.

“Scientists may not always the best at describing their business ideas to potential investors – or protecting them. Start-ups need to hire a range of employees to help them through the business process.” –Mike Geppi, CEO Timbre Technologies, Inc.

Laurie described the ways that counties can help spur economic development – both with financial incentives, and help streamlining permitting processes, and by providing ‘in-kind’ contributions like office space.

“Chairs and tables are not something that start-ups need to spend money on — there are so many free resources.” –Laurie Boyer, Economic Development Manager, Montgomery County Government Finance Department, Division of Fiscal Management

A reason for levity: the economic development potential of life sciences businesses brings a smile to the face of panelists at MACo’s Conference.

“Reinventing Power” Documentary Screened at 2018 Summer #MACoCon

A scene from “Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom”

Attendees to the 2018 MACo Summer Conference were able to see a screening of the documentary “Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom” on August 15, 2018. The 50-minute film, created by the Sierra Club, examines how renewable energy can create economic as well as environmental benefits.

The documentary looks at case studies from eight states that highlight the environmental, health, and economic benefits of successful renewable energy projects and technologies. The studies include examples of solar panel projects, solar panel manufacturing, on-shore and off-shore wind projects, electric bus manufacturing, and energy storage solutions.

Useful Links

Reinventing Power Trailer

Maryland Sierra Club Website

To Know What You Don’t Know

Cyber security experts speaking at MACo’s Summer Conference provide insight for counties seeking to protect key government systems and assets.

Attendees in a standing-room-only session at MACo’s Summer Conference heard updates from national experts, an international private sector cybersecurity assessment vendor, and the Maryland military on cyber security threats facing county governments.

Maryland Senator Ed Reilly moderated the session, leading a discussion focused on the meaning of these threats to key services, like 9-1-1 Call Centers, and on the top priorities for securing government systems.

“What I want to know, is what happens when a 9-1-1 Call Center is hacked – and what we can do the prevent it,” –Maryland Senator Ed Reilly

all hands on deck
At the MACo Summer Conference Session, “All Hands on Deck: Cybersecurity for County Governments” attendees view the Maryland Military’s demonstration of a cyber hack of 9-1-1 Call Center.

Ryan Spelman of the Center for Internet Security shared the many ways that cyber hackers can threaten governments, including ransomware attacks that lock out users from critical infrastructure, or wire money to foreign accounts until detected.

TJ Roe, VP Sales North America for RADIFLOW, described the first step for counties seeking to protect their infrastructure as a complete assessment of their assets. Radiflow is an Israeli company that develops cybersecurity protection for water treatment, power suppliers, and building automation systems.

“To know what you don’t know is true knowledge.” –TJ Roe, VP Sales North America for RADIFLOW, quoting Confucius

Dan Molina, Commander, 275th Operations Support Squadron, MD Air National Guard, shared how Maryland’s military is uniquely positioned for national cyber security leadership given the number of people with training and expertise in cyber operations in our State.

Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems, Maryland Defense Force focused on the need for personnel with education on cyber threats in appropriate positions throughout government.

“Put the right staff in the right place.” –Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems, Maryland Defense Force.

Patrick and Molina work together on cybersecurity threat models as part of a partnership within Maryland’s military. The MACo session ended with a demonstration of their 9-1-1 Call Center model, which will be on display at the MACo Conference through Friday.




2018 #MACoCon Kicks Off With Full House at Planning Training Session

The Maryland Department of Planning kicked off the 2018 MACo Summer Conference on August 15, 2018, by offering its free planning and land use course to a packed house of county, municipal, and state officials.  The several hour course outlines the history of land use in Maryland, basics of planning and Smart Growth, engaging with elected officials and the public, and key land use issues currently facing the state.

While designed for planning commissioners and board of appeals members, any interested county official can attend. The course is required under state law and is offered at the MACo Summer Conference, MML Annual Convention, and online. You do not have to be registered for the MACo conference to attend this session.

Maryland Department of Planning staff, including Lower Eastern Shore Regional Planners Keith Lackie and Tracey Gordy, and Director of Planning Coordination Chuck Boyd walked attendees through the course materials.

Useful Links

Planning Commission/Board of Appeals Training Course Webpage

Corvias at #MACoCon for the Governor’s Cabinet Reception!

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank Corvias for their sponsorship of the Governor’s Cabinet Reception. MACo will host the Governor’s Cabinet Reception on August 17, 2018, followed by the Crab Feast.

download (1).pngCorvias [kore-vee-us] is rooted in the Latin phrase “by way of the heart.” It represents the commitment we make to our partners. The passion we bring to making a real difference in the world. And serves as our daily reminder to lead with our hearts, speak from our conscience, and improve local communities — and society at large — through every one of our partnerships. We take our work personally because, just like our partners, we’re engaged citizens and community members with a vision for a better tomorrow. And a plan to make our vision a reality.

Thank you, Corvias, for supporting the Maryland Association of Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

You Get a Tote Bag, You Get a Tote Bag, You All Get a Tote Bag

MACo would like to recognize the sponsor of this year’s conference tote bags, The NorthEast Maglev!

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

tnem.pngTNEM is an American company committed to bringing the revolutionary SCMAGLEV to the Northeast Corridor, the most congested transportation region in the country.

Thank you, The NorthEast Maglev, a Bronze Corporate Partner, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

It Wouldn’t Be a Crab Feast Without the Feast?!

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank Miles & Stockbridge for sponsoring the Main Buffet at the Crab Feast!

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

Miles and Stockbridge.png

Miles & Stockbridge is a leading law firm with 250 lawyers and seven offices across Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. The firm’s lawyers help global, national, local and emerging business clients preserve and create value by helping them solve their most challenging problems.

Thank you, Miles & Stockbridge, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Don’t Let a Dead Battery Ruin #MACoCon

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank SLAIT Consulting and Nutanix for sponsoring the Cell Phone Charging Station.


SLAIT Consulting is an information technology company that specializes in cyber-security and data center solutions. SLAIT holds top partner status and certifications with leading technology organizations which enables us to help businesses, government and educational institutions develop comprehensive plans to build and maintain their IT infrastructure. SLAIT will work with you to develop strategies around IT business transformation, conduct IT Risk Analysis and Mitigation, and develop out-of-the-box thinking around your IT architecture, design, and implementation. Visit to learn more.

NutanixNutanix enables IT teams to build and operate powerful multi-cloud architectures. Our Enterprise Cloud OS software melds private, public and distributed cloud operating environments and provides a single point of control to manage IT infrastructure and applications at any scale.

Thank you, SLAIT Consulting and Nutanix, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: