Still Waters Run Deep… with Dark Data at #MACoCon

“Big data” receives a lot of attention among policy wonks and elected officials for its power to make government operations more efficient. While big data and analytics play an increasingly important role in developing strategies and informing decision making in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, local governments face barriers in acquiring and using such data.

That’s where “dark data” comes in.ball-63527_1280

Dark data is big data that is collected but not fully utilized.  During the MACo Summer Conference special session, “Still Waters Run Deep: Dive Into Your Dark Data Potential,” attendees will learn about data resources available from various state and federal agencies – and how to make use of that data to inform economic development and government operations decisions.

The effort has been done in collaboration between the Maryland Department of Transportation and the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth.

Still Waters Run Deep: Dive Into Your Dark Data Potential

Dark data – underutilized big data sources – can help counties tremendously in their planning, engineering, and social project development. In this session, attendees will learn how to put available data resources to work at the local government level. The Maryland Department of Transportation will provide an overview of growth trends in population, labor force, and employment, and apply them to current commuting patterns within Maryland. Attendees will also be shown the types of data available to learn about their workforce and how that information can be incorporated into economic development strategies.

Speakers:

  • Cory Stottlemyer, Senior Policy Analyst, Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Planning & Capital Programming
  • Benjamin Birge, CountyStat Manager, Office of the County Executive, Prince George’s County

Moderator: The Honorable Jeff Ghrist, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 15, 2018; 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm

The Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

MACo Partners with State & Local Boards of Elections to Improve Election Security

The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) is pleased to announce a partnership with the State Board of Elections (SBE) and Local Boards of Elections (LBEs) to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.

MACo’s Information Technology Affiliate, SBE, and LBEs will hold a conference call later this week to identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for the upcoming Primary Election. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Federal officials warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. Although United States Department of Homeland Security notified Maryland that is was one of 21 states with suspicious online activities before the election, there’s no evidence that Maryland’s election systems or voter data were breached or compromised.

While it is likely that this working group will discuss technical matters, Election Directors, Deputy Directors, County Information Technology staff, and LBE Information Technology staff are invited to participate in the kick-off conference call. Contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo for more information.

Discuss Small Cells with County Leaders – Exhibit at MACo’s Symposium

symposium picMACo’s annual symposium focuses on a hot topic for county governments. This year, we’re talking about small cell wireless technology. 60+ individuals are expected to attend to connect with peers and explore the challenges and possibilities around small cells.

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Newton White Mansion
(2708 Enterprise Rd, Mitchellville, MD 20721)

AGENDA

Who Will Attend?

  • Maryland county elected and appointed officials
  • Maryland county professionals involved in legal, planning, information technology, permitting, infrastructure, and administration

Why Should My Company Exhibit?

  • Talk directly with county influencers and decision-makers about your products and services
  • Get to know the county concerns around small cell wireless technology so that you can better craft your message and the solutions you offer county governments in Maryland

How Do I Register?

What If I Have More Questions?

 

(Attendee registration is only open to MACo Members – Maryland county elected and appointed officials and staff – attendance is FREE, but registration is required)

The Big Picture on Small Cells: REGISTER TODAY for MACo’s 2018 Symposium

MACo hosts an annual members-only symposium on a hot topic for county governments. This year, we’re focusing on small cells.

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Newton White Mansion (2708 Enterprise Rd, Mitchellville, MD 20721)

Destechnology-sml.jpgcription: Communities today crave faster data speeds and more reliable service. 5G – the next generation of wireless services – promises to deliver on all that and more in the upcoming years. Small cells are being billed as one bridge to the 5G future…a bridge built on local infrastructure and rights of ways. As the public and private sectors explore this emerging technology and shape its legislative and regulatory framework, local governments need to not only be prepared for the future but be proactive in ensuring what is best for their communities. Through a collaborative exchange, this symposium will explore some of the challenges and opportunities of the deployment of small cells and seek to provide best practices and possible solutions for local governments.

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am Refreshments and Exhibits
10:00 am – 10:15 am Welcome and Introduction
10:15 am – 11:00 am Small Cell 101 and the Race to 5G
What are small cells? How do they work? Why are they the all talk of the residents and businesses in town? Learn the basics of what every local government should know about small cells.
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Major Issues
What challenges do local governments face managing small cells on their public infrastructure and in their ROWs? What issues are on the horizon? Learn more about the powers and pitfalls of siting small cells and the boundaries of local government authority.
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Lunch & Exhibits
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Best Practices/Success Stories
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Get ahead of the curve by building on best practices and model ordinances from your peers.
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm Facilitated Discussion
Share comments and questions with other symposium attendees, led by an expert in the field.
3:15 – 3:30 pm Summary and Next Steps

This symposium is only free for MACo Members (county elected/appointed officials and professionals). State or other government individuals may attend for a $75 registration fee.

REGISTER TODAY

Commercial or industry participants wishing to be exhibitors or sponsors may review the sponsorship/exhibitor flyer or contact Nicolette Querry for more information.

Montgomery Council’s Twitter Account May Have Been Briefly Hacked

Bethesda Beat article (2018-05-29) reported that Montgomery County Council staff believe the Council’s twitter account was hacked after a questionable message was posted by the account on May 29. The issue highlights the challenge county governments face in providing communication platforms that are easy for the public to access but also secure from outside tampering.

The article indicated that one tweet was briefly posted questioning different media accounts about the death toll caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and included offensive language. The tweets were removed about five minutes after they were posted. Council staff are continuing to investigate. From the article:

[Council spokesperson Susan] Kenedy said staff members don’t have any evidence that any other social media accounts were hacked but secured them with new passwords as a precaution. They do not believe a county employee was involved in posting the initial message.

Useful Links

Montgomery County Council Web Page

The MACo Summer Conference’s Tech Expo will feature a session on cybersecurity from Wednesday, August 15, 2018, from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm.

  • All Hands on Deck: Cybersecurity for County Government
  • County government networks possess a wealth of valuable personal information, including Social Security numbers, tax ID numbers, health information, and other sensitive data. This makes county government employees at every level potential targets for online pirates looking to steal sensitive information. Even well-meaning and internet-savvy employees may fall prey to inappropriate release of data…with multiple consequences. Learn from Maryland’s leading cybersecurity firms how counties can work together to keep fast all data, including personal information.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

The Big Picture on Small Cells – Save the Date for MACo’s 2018 Symposium

MACo hosts an annual members-only symposium on a hot topic for county governments. This year, we’re focusing on small cells.

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Newton White Mansion (2708 Enterprise Rd, Mitchellville, MD 20721)

Destechnology-sml.jpgcription: Communities today crave faster data speeds and more reliable service. 5G – the next generation of wireless services – promises to deliver on all that and more in the upcoming years. Small cells are being billed as one bridge to the 5G future…a bridge built on local infrastructure and rights of ways. As the public and private sectors explore this emerging technology and shape its legislative and regulatory framework, local governments need to not only be prepared for the future but be proactive in ensuring what is best for their communities. Through a collaborative exchange, this symposium will explore some of the challenges and opportunities of the deployment of small cells and seek to provide best practices and possible solutions for local governments.

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am Refreshments and Exhibits
10:00 am – 10:15 am Welcome and Introduction
10:15 am – 11:00 am Small Cell 101 and the Race to 5G
What are small cells? How do they work? Why are they the all talk of the residents and businesses in town? Learn the basics of what every local government should know about small cells.
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Major Issues
What challenges do local governments face managing small cells on their public infrastructure and in their ROWs? What issues are on the horizon? Learn more about the powers and pitfalls of siting small cells and the boundaries of local government authority.
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Lunch & Exhibits
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm Best Practices/Success Stories
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Get ahead of the curve by building on best practices and model ordinances from your peers.
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm Facilitated Discussion
Share comments and questions with other symposium attendees, led by an expert in the field.
3:15 – 3:30 pm Summary and Next Steps

This symposium is only free for MACo Members (county elected/appointed officials and professionals).

REGISTER TODAY

Commercial or industry participants must be exhibitors or sponsors to participate. Review the sponsorship/exhibitor flyer or contact Nicolette Querry for more information.

Montgomery County Sets Zoning Standards for Small Cell Antennas

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday adopted a zoning text amendment (ZTA) that sets standards for small cell wireless antennas in mixed-use commercial and industrial zones. ZTA 18-02 would allow more antennas in commercial and urban areas, on lower height building rooftops, and utility poles. The ZTA does not make any changes to use of street lights in residential areas or in areas with underground utilities.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macrocells (what you would typically imagine as a large, tall, and free-standing cell tower), allowing them to be placed on short poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased.

ZTA 18-02 permits the installation of new equipment on existing utility poles or replacement poles in commercial and mixed-use areas. In addition to requiring small cells be masked to minimize aesthetic impacts, the law puts a cap on the allowable height of replacement poles and requires them to be the same color as the poles they are replacing.

The law makes no changes to the requirement that new small cell structures be at least 300 feet from homes and be subject to a public hearing. Further, no changes were made to the 60-foot setback requirement for equipment on existing structures in residential zones.

Earlier this year, MACo opposed a bill that would have regulated small cell technology across the state and significantly preempted local authority and had inequitable impacts on local communities. While counties embrace innovation and the advancement of broadband technology, local authority and community decision-making is crucial. The bill’s hearing was canceled and did not move out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Somerset Launches New “Trail Mix” App Featuring Local Recreation

Somerset County has launched a new user-friendly app called “Trail Mix,” to help and encourage residents to take advantage of trail-walking and other outdoor recreation across the county.

From coverage in the Daily Times:

Clint Sterling, director of Somerset County Recreation & Parks, said all the information walkers need can now be in the palms of their hands.

“The Somerset Trail Mix App offers casual walkers and serious exercisers tools for finding paths, trails and street courses throughout the county,” said Sterling. “Our goal is to get people walking for both their health and the enjoyment of county-owned resources.”

The app [launched] at Somerset County Field Day in Westover on Saturday, Apr. 21. Representatives [were] on hand to teach participants how to download and use the app.

“There’s some wonderful, accessible technology built into this app,” said Sterling. “We took top-quality drone footage and panorama photos of each location, so you can see where you are going before you go there to get a sense of a place. And, as you are walking, you can use a GPS locator to be sure you are headed where you want to go and track your efforts through a pedometer.”

Visit the Somerset County Trail Mix website for more information.

P3 to Expand Rural Broadband Access in Garrett County

Governor Larry Hogan this week announced a public-private partnership with Microsoft Corp. and Declaration Networks Group, Inc (DNG) to expand rural broadband access in Garrett County. As the 13th state selected to participate in this initiative, Maryland will execute a three-year agreement with Microsoft and DNG to deliver broadband internet access to approximately 30,000 Marylanders.

According to a press release:

In June 2017, Garrett County was one of two pilot programs established by the Hogan administration’s Office of Rural Broadband to improve connectivity for economic and public safety purposes, with a focus on communities that have been underserved. The Hogan administration enabled Garrett County officials to utilize state fiber assets at no charge, through an agreement with Maryland Public Television. This portion of the project commenced ahead of schedule, bringing Garrett County residents significantly closer to broadband accessibility.

Microsoft and DNG aim to address the rural broadband gap for residents and businesses, allowing unserved regions to fully participate in the digital economy through access to technology and services that will empower farmers, healthcare professionals, educators, business leaders, and others in the community.

“This partnership with Declaration Networks will help close the rural broadband gap for 65,000 people living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and in Garrett County, Maryland,” said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. “Broadband is essential for agriculture, education, business and healthcare. Microsoft’s Airband initiative is focused on bringing this necessity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022 and accelerating the national priority of closing the broadband gap.”

This innovative public-private solution creates a model for ways to expand broadband and other important resources in underserved communities. The Office of Rural Broadband will continue to work with local governments, tri-county councils, and key agencies and stakeholders, including the Maryland Broadband Cooperative, to ensure that all Maryland citizens have access to high-speed internet.

Read the full press release for more information.

MACo to Governor: Sign MACo’s 9-1-1 Initiative Bill

MACo sent a letter to Governor Hogan today, urging him to sign HB 634/SB 285 – Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that unanimously passed both the Senate and House of Delegates. This legislation is essential to ensure that Maryland is prepared for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that our residents expect and deserve.

Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward NG911, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

From the MACo Letter:

Today, the key underpinnings of the legacy 9-1-1 framework are based on the same wireline, analog, circuit-switched technology that was the foundation of the original 9-1-1 architecture in 1968. Aside from an enhanced data environment and the ability to support wireless and Internet telephony, the system has not significantly changed in more than 40 years.

In order to close this gap and benefit from the monumental advancements that are taking place in commercial communications, this bill establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Across Maryland. MACo believes this legislation is vital for the development of a statewide strategy to create a common framework for the implementation of NG911 in Maryland.

The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of NG911 implementation in coordination with the existing efforts of the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), with a particular emphasis on addressing areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG911 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

In the letter, MACo praises Governor Hogan for his leadership on the Maryland Text to 9-1-1 Initiative:

The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated. Counties applaud your leadership on the Text to 9-1-1 initiative, and hope to build upon that momentum as we work to implement NG911 in Maryland. MACo as an organization stands ready to work with you, your Appointments Office, and other stakeholders to populate the Commission quickly, so they can begin their important work.

Counties encourage efforts to enhance emergency communications in Maryland. SB 285/HB 634 urges a statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing public safety industry leadership and expertise to address complex public safety concerns.

Read the full MACo letter online.

Read MACo’s testimony on HB 634/SB285.