New Tools and Adaptable Staff are Key to Innovating Public Services Using Technology

Panel presents on technology tools at a conferenceAt the Tech Expo on Wednesday of the MACo summer conference, a panel did a deep dive into tech tools to enhance the effectiveness and agility of public agencies.

Micah Intermill, a Solutions Engineer with OpenGov shared the results of a survey of their customers across the country. One of the most interesting insights from the survey was the broad consensus that using technology for public services had become essential, but at the same time, survey respondents showed low willingness to change. This demonstrates the challenge facing local governments, and Intermill reviewed three case studies where local governments had successfully adapted new technology tools to improve public services, but in a way that was manageable for staff. The implementation of more modern tools also allowed all the governments highlighted to more easily make course corrections over the duration of the pandemic.

Chris Cruz, SLED Chief Information Officer for Tanium discussed the case for local governments to implement a Zero Trust security model. In this model, no device is considered trusted, even within the perimeter of the managed corporate network. Verifying the user, verifying the device, and then granting the least access necessary to network systems to accomplish the work are key aspects of Zero Trust. The case for Zero Trust has become increasingly important as the pandemic has caused a greater shift to working from home, with more company devices working on home networks and out of the direct office environment.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to cybersecurity,” Chris Cruz, Tanium.

Finally, Allison Cordell, Director of the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement discussed how the State government had adapted services during the pandemic to allow more employees to work remotely and reduce the amount of in-person contact needed for residents to access services. She highlighted key work done by agencies such as the Department of Commerce, which has processed millions of dollars of applications for COVID-related financial assistance. Cordell also encouraged the attendees to explore the data available on the State’s open data portal. A wide variety of information is available that can be instructive to counties when making policy decisions, including 59 COVID data sets.

Talbot County Council Member and MACo First Vice President Laura Price moderated the panel.

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