MACo Explores Government Applications for Drones

Various government departments may have uses for unmanned aircraft systems (commonly called drones). MACo is seeking information on current programs and future plans.

County and state governments are exploring various applications for unmanned aircraft systems that may allow them to provide improved services to the public. There are also challenges to using drones, including cost, safety, privacy, and liability concerns.

MACo is partnering with the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) to gather more information from local governments about their current use of this aerial technology, and future planned uses. A survey distributed by MACo to its professional affiliates and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education will be shared with the State and Local Work Group on UAS. The Work Group was assembled by the Department of State Police to report on drone use to the legislature and Governor this fall.

Questions in the survey include:

  1. Does your agency/department use UAS for operations?
  2. Does your agency/department have plans to use UAS for operations?
  3. Have you observed any unmanned aircraft systems flying in such a way that they interfered with your agency’s operations?

MACo is also working with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council to explore the possibility of holding an educational symposium for GIS, Public Works, and Procurement Officers to discuss drone applications and joint purchasing opportunities across governments.

For information about drone uses, also see:

Annapolis Deploys Drones to Tackle Traffic Problems

MES Evaluating Use of Drones For More Efficient Data Collection

 

 

General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Education Bill Vetoes

On Thursday, the Maryland General Assembly overrode two of Governor Larry Hogan’s vetoes in lengthy, hours-long floor sessions, restoring a prominent school construction bill and legislation allowing arbitration for teacher disciplinary measures.

The school construction legislation incorporates more than thirty-six recommendations of a two-year commission on school construction appointed by the Presiding Officers of the General Assembly. However, it also strips the Board of Public Works of much of its authority over the allocation of state funding for school construction. Read more about The 21st Century School Facilities Act here.

SB 639 – Education – Public School Personnel – Disciplinary Hearing Procedures would allow public school personnel a hearing before arbitration before certain final disciplinary procedures.

The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), who supports the bill, said the legislation ensures due process. But Sen. Robert Cassilly (R-Harford) said the measure “undermines the quality of education.”

Hogan called the bill a “radical attempt to strip away the duly authorized powers of local school boards.”

Call If You Can, Text If You Must

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the Board of Public Works’ approval of a new Text to 9-1-1 technology for Maryland, helping to update 1960s-era emergency systems with life-saving technology. This new Internet-based infrastructure allows citizens to send a Short Message Service (SMS) text message to 9-1-1. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that more than 70 percent of all 9-1-1 calls now come from cellular users.

Text to 9-1-1 supports 160 characters per message, but no multimedia messaging, such as photos or video. The total cost of the 2-year contract is approximately $2.2 million.

Text to 9-1-1 is a component of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911), an initiative aimed at updating the 9-1-1 service infrastructure to improve public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. NG911 will improve and enhance the handling of 9-1-1 calls from cell phone users with technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

Advancing NG911 is a priority for county governments. SB 285/HB 634, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, establishes the Commission to Advance Next-Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

MACo Testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Board of Public Works Approves $23 Million In Rural Legacy Grants

The Board of Public Works unanimously adopted a Maryland Department of Natural Resources recommendation approving 17 Rural Legacy Program grants – totaling over $23 million. Funding from these grants will permanently protect over 6,500 acres of working farms, forests and open space in 18 counties.

According to a press release:

The projects include protecting productive farmland, natural habitat, scenic view sheds, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands as well as cultural, historical, and natural resources.

Established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large tracts of productive and valuable agricultural and forested lands that contain exceptional features. The program acts through local government or private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 31 locally-designated rural areas located in every county. To date, the program has permanently protected 91,398 acres.

Here is a listing of Rural Legacy Program grants (alphabetically by area):

Read the full press release for more information.

Allegany Receives Grants for Three Local Water Projects

Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved more than $92 million in grants Wednesday to projects designed to reduce pollution and improve water quality. Three projects in Allegany County were among the funding recipients.

Cumberland Times-News reports,

Frostburg will receive a Bay Restoration Fund grant of more than $2.1 million for the next phase of its effort to separate combined sewers and reduce the frequency and volume of combined sewer overflows during wet weather. The next phase of the project includes installation of new sewers and storm drains to separate combined sewers along Grant Street.

The project will reduce wet-weather sewage flows to downstream sewage treatment facilities in Allegany County, LaVale and Cumberland, and it will reduce combined sewer overflows to Georges Creek, the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay, officials said.

A $150,000 grant in the form of forgiveness of a Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund loan to Allegany County, along with a second $150,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund loan, will help fund the Prince Albert/Sunnyside Water Project near Mount Savage.

The project includes the design and construction of water lines, valves and fire hydrants to extend public water service from Allegany County’s Mount Savage Water System to the Prince Albert/Sunnyside community, where residents have experienced problems with their private wells and have asked the county to extend public water service. The new extensions will provide safe and reliable drinking water and fire protection, officials said.

A $137,500 Water Supply Financial Assistance grant to Allegany County will help fund the Pond Circle Road Project.

The project entails the extension of public water service from Allegany County’s Carlos/Shaft/Klondike Water District to about 20 residential units in the Pond Circle Road area. The project will provide clean, reliable drinking water and fire protection to the area, officials said.

Read the full article for more information.

BPW Boss: Smart Meters Will Improve Baltimore Water Billing System Within the Year

The head of Baltimore’s water department told City Council members Wednesday that he expects the problem of disputed water bills to be greatly improved next year thanks to the rollout of smart-meter technology.

As Reported in The Baltimore Sun,

Rudy Chow, the city’s director of public works, told the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee that the department has progressed significantly in his six years running it.

“We are making a tremendous amount of progress in terms of getting ourselves into a steady state where water billing isn’t a problem on the technology end or customer service,” he said.

The city introduced new meters in October that can measure how much water a customer uses hour by hour and beam back information to the water department wirelessly. It also began sending customers monthly bills at that time. Previously, the department’s crews were deployed to read meters every three months.

Read the full article for more information.

Maryland Board of Public Works – May 10, 2017 Agenda

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in the Governor’s Reception Room (2nd floor) of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 10 a.m. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

Maryland Board of Public Works – April 26, 2017 Agenda

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in the Governor’s Reception Room (2nd floor) of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10 a.m. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

Maryland Board of Public Works – April 5, 2017 Agenda

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in the Governor’s Reception Room (2nd floor) of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 10 a.m. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

Maryland Board of Public Works – March 22, 2017 Agenda

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in the Governor’s Reception Room (2nd floor) of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. Material for the upcoming meeting is available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.