Mid-Shore 9-1-1 Dispatchers Join Forces to Answer Calls

Emergency dispatchers on the Mid-Shore are joining ranks to ensure that 911 callers do not get a busy signal; instead, overflow calls will roll over to another trained dispatcher in a neighboring county to make sure that all calls are answered by a professional.

According to MyEasternShoreMD,

“About 70 percent of 911 calls come in via cell phones,” said Director Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services Scott Haas. “Today, after six 911 cell phone lines are in use, the caller gets a busy signal. Our partnership with Kent, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties will eliminate that problem.”

This will be particularly important when there are simultaneous emergencies. For example, if there is a car accident on U.S. Route 50 with multiple witnesses calling 911, while elsewhere in the county someone is experiencing heart attack symptoms and someone else is hurt in a farming accident.

Previously, the seventh caller would get a busy signal. Now that caller will be routed to a dispatcher at a neighboring emergency services center.

All Mid-Shore dispatchers are trained in life safety instructions, such as guiding someone through the steps for CPR, controlling bleeding and even childbirth.

“The message I really want to send to the public is that if you dial 911 and the call is answered by another county — do not hang up,” said Haas. “We are working together and help is on the way.”

Under the new partnership, dispatchers can allocate resources throughout the Mid-Shore.

9-1-1 call centers often struggle to transfer calls and activate alternative routing to share the burden during an emergency or when call centers are closed by disaster. This issue can be addressed by ensuring a smooth transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911). NG911 will enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Linked call centers will also be able to share resources like GIS (Geographic Information System) databases rather than each having to purchase their own. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.

While the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through relating to technology standards, the process of transition, governance, and funding. MACo supported Senate Bill 466, “Carl Henn’s Law,” a bill to streamline the transition to NG911. MACo worked with bill sponsor, Senator Kagan over the interim on ideas for the legislation and was pleased to have her support on several amendments to the bill.

As amended, the legislation expands the uses of a state funding mechanism for 9-1-1 upgrades and creates an advisory board that includes local 911 Center representation to help implement the next generation technologies throughout the State. SB 466, “Carl Henn’s Law,” passed the Senate but did not move in the House.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: “Carl Henn’s Law” to Advance 9-1-1 Heard in Senate

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Counties Left in the Dark When 9-1-1 Fails

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Next Steps on Next Generation 9-1-1

Your Next Employee May Be Robot

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can move your county forward – but how? A number of experts in automation will come together at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference to show how AI can propel county governments into the future at the session, Will Your Next County Employee be…a Robot?

Via Pega

Baltimore-based Mindgrub Technologies started building robots this year, after finding the robots at a Las Vegas conference “cute, but unsophisticated.” They have three in the works, all of which clearly offer potential benefit to counties: Tors, who delivers tours with interesting facts and history to visitors; CRM, a networking robot who works a crowd, cracking jokes and swapping business cards; and Snax, who delivers tasty treats to office workers’ desks. What county official wouldn’t love a robot wandering its office, delivering snacks? Jason Perry, Mindgrub’s Vice President of Engineering will speak to how robots can go to work for counties.

AI can travel farther than across the office to deliver pretzels. Governments use vehicles for everything from property inspections to trash collection. What if those vehicles could drive themselves? Steve Kuciemba of WSP, USA is a national leader in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and automated vehicle policy. He has 30 years of leadership in the ITS field in both the public and private sectors. His background is unique, having worked for an automotive manufacturer, a State department of transportation, a private travel information provider, and a national trade/lobbying association. He will discuss the future of automated vehicles and how they can help counties.

AI can go airborne, too. Brent Klavon of Aviation Systems Engineering Company will show now drones can assist county governments with surveillance, security, inspections, and more. While notably used for military purposes, unmanned aircraft has a number of applications that can benefit county governments – from property inspections to public safety. (Perhaps to Snax’ chagrin, drones deliver snacks, too.)

Drones, robots, automated vehicles, oh my! How do local governments, with limited budgets and oftentimes limited appetite for risk, put these technologies to work for them? Doctor Alan Shark, Executive Director and CEO of Public Technology Institute, is a highly recognized leader in technology applications for local government. He is the author of the textbooks Technology & Public Management and 7 Trends That Will Transform Local Government Through Technology, and is co-author of the book Web 2.0 Civic Media in Action, and an author and Executive Editor of CIO Leadership for City & County Government, CIO Leadership for Public Safety Communications, and The Digital Journey in K-12 Education, among many others. Doctor Shark will join the panel to demonstrate how county governments can best harness the power of automation.

The session, “Will Your Next County Employee be…a Robot?” is a don’t-miss for all technologists, nerds, nerd-wannabes and dreamers.

Will Your Next County Employee be…a Robot?

Description:  Although it may sound like science fiction, it’s time to realize that the future brings automation to a number of government activities – and it’s coming sooner than we think. From driverless garbage trucks to robot cleaning staff, emerging technology will offer taxpayers innovative methods of service, while offering job seekers new and different-looking opportunities. This session will explore ways to welcome the future of automation to your county.


  • Brent Klavon, Aviation Systems Engineering Company
  • Dr. Alan Shark, Executive Director and CEO of Public Technology Institute
  • Steve Kuciemba, Vice President & National ITS Practice Leader, WSP USA
  • Jason Perry, Vice President, Engineering, Mindgrub

Moderator: The Honorable Jeff Ghrist, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Howard County Schools Launch Website for PIA Requests

Howard County schools interim superintendent Michael Martirano emphasized the need for transparency at a press conference Friday that formally launched the school system’s new Maryland Public Information Act request website.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

The website, which has been live since July 1, allows users to submit a request to access school system public records and documents as allowed under Maryland’s Public Information Act. Users can also view previously submitted requests and their completion status, which Martirano said is meant to help decrease the number of redundant requests the school system receives.

There have been 12 requests submitted since the site was created, one of which has been completed, 10 are “in progress” and one is “submitted.” Names of the requesters are not included on the site, something Martirano said the school system purposefully did so users would not be discouraged from submitting requests.

Danielle Lueking serves as the school system’s new senior communications specialist and Maryland Public Information Act representative. Lueking, who was hired this year, is charged with overseeing the review and completion of the requests.

Martirano has made a point to “open the doors,” as he called it during the press conference Friday, of transparency in the school system. He said it is the best way to create a relationship of trust between residents and the school system.

Maryland law stipulates that an initial response to a request must be made within 10 working days of receipt of the submission, and requests must be fulfilled within 30 days, unless there is an extension granted or the request is denied. The new site does not include the dates when requests are submitted, though it does include the date of completion.

Martirano said he believes the site is the first of its kind at the K-12 level in the area, and that it should be used as a model for other school systems.

“If you truly have the request for transparency and showing that information, why wouldn’t we do something like this?” he said. “I firmly believe that every school system in America should begin the process of developing something very similar to this.”

Read the full article for more information.

New Initiative Aims to Boost Anne Arundel Cybersecurity Businesses

Citing a desire to support local cybersecurity enterprises, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. has announced a new initiative that seeks to connect those businesses with financing and mentorship.

According to The Capital Gazette,

Announcement of the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox came two days before another county-sponsored business boosting program, the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Odenton, closed its doors.

County Executive Steve Schuh decided in March to defund the CIC, which operated as a business incubator for 14 years, in order to redirect money to more tax and fee cuts. After several County Council members protested the move, his administration said it was looking at other ways to assist the cybersecurity industry — a source of growth particularly in the western county, which is home to the National Security Agency’s headquarters at Fort George G. Meade.

In a statement announcing the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox initiative, Schuh said the new program would “ensure the defense and cyber industries continue to fuel the economic engine of West County.”

His spokesman, Owen McEvoy, said the toolbox is one of potentially several new ideas intended to fill the gap after the shuttering of the incubator.

“It’s safe to say that when we announced the closure of the incubator, we were looking for other options to support businesses in west county,” McEvoy said. “The cyber industry is an economic powerhouse — we want to make sure those jobs and those businesses feel welcome here.”

The Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox is geared toward Anne Arundel-based companies with fewer than 100 employees and a gross revenue of less than $5 million.

Participants in the program can apply for loans of $50,000 to $250,000 through the Next Stage Tech Fund, which offers zero-percent interest and a flexible repayment schedule, depending on a company’s expected cash flow.

The loans can be used for “anything that could directly contribute to a company’s growth,” from buying equipment to leasing space to paying employees, said Sarah Purdum, the program’s manager. Purdum, who formerly worked as the manager for UMBC Research Park’s cyber incubator, was hired in May.

Purdum said the toolbox, which is supported by a $1.2 million investment from Economic Development, is a new approach to helping cyber companies in the area. Economic Development is a quasi-private county agency.

“It’s a better way to put resources directly into the pockets of these companies and offer a tangible benefit,” Purdum said.

With more than 700 cyber tech companies in the county, “we really try hard to touch them at some point in their growth stage,” Purdum added, “and this toolbox is a great way for us to reach out and give kind of a hard-line effort in helping the cyber sector in the region.”

The program will also connect businesses with the Economic Development workforce training program, which offers grants of up to $1,000 per employee trained, as well as free expert consultations on topics such as federal contracting, patents and marketing.

Expanding Maryland’s tech industry will be discussed at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session “Rounding Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs .” The session will be held from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Thursday, August 17, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs at #MACoCon

MACo’s Summer Conference will be August 16-19, 2017. The theme is “You’re Hired!” and sessions will focus on economic development and ways counties can contribute to job growth in Maryland. Part of that discussion will focus on TechHire, the federal initiative that aims to to equip Marylanders with the skills they need to land jobs in the tech industry. In a session exploring this issue, participants will learn more about the TechHire initiative, including how local governments in Maryland can benefit from the program.

Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring

TechHire, an initiative powered by Opportunity@Work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, is a nationwide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented and overlooked job seekers start technology careers. TechHire works with community partners and education providers that teach in-demand skills to people who want to take part in the modern economy—from overlooked youth, to veterans, to the long-term unemployed. Then, TechHire helps them find jobs by connecting them to a network of employers looking for tech talent. In this session, attendees will learn how to implement TechHire in their communities.


  • Keyon Smith, Community Engagement Manager, Opportunity@Work
  • Kati Townsley, Executive Director, Carroll Technology Council
  • Tracey Turner, Executive Director, Howard Tech Council
  • Denise L. Beaver, Deputy Director, Carroll County Economic Development

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

MACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. Read more about this session and others in our registration brochure.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

In the Heat of the Moment, Drones Are Getting in the Way of Firefighters

Soon after the Lake Fire started last month, it threatened hundreds of homes. Fire officials in Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest, where the wildfire raged, responded quickly by sending helicopters and more than a thousand firefighters to combat the blaze.

NPR reports,

Mike Eaton was one of the pilots called upon to help fight the fire. On the evening of June 24, he recalls, they noticed a drone. The aerial attack was immediately called off, out of fear of a midair collision; the three air tankers attacking the Lake Fire were parked the rest of the day. And the fire grew as a result.

What Eaton and his fellow firefighters confronted wasn’t uncommon. At least five times this summer — and once this week — aerial firefighting operations in the West have had to be shut down because officials deemed nearby drones a threat to the planes and helicopters that drop water and retardant on fires.

And pilots like Eaton deem it no idle threat. Flying over wildfires is considered the most dangerous type of flight there is, outside of aerial combat. Robert West, who’s been doing this for 44 years, says that trying to spot tiny unmanned aircraft makes the job even more difficult.

“We usually have visibility problems anyway, with the smoke and keeping track of our lead planes and helicopters on the fire, let alone look out for a drone,” West says. “And by the time we probably saw something, if it was very small, we couldn’t do anything about it. It’d just be there.”

Those fears have very real consequences. In 2014, there were four known instances of drones interfering with aerial firefighting operations. That’s when people like Aitor Bidaburu began to worry.

“If we are putting the firefighters in a place where they can’t fully engage the fire because they don’t have the tools that they need, and the fires are gonna get worse and threaten communities, I think that’s a big issue,” he says.

Bidaburu is a wildland fire program manager with the U.S. Fire Administration in Boise, Idaho. He, like many in his line of work, thinks most of the problems are caused by hobbyists who just don’t understand the rules.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that it, too, prefers to focus on outreach right now, though a spokesman points out that the maximum fine for flying drones too close to fires is $25,000. And now, two California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow firefighters to destroy nearby unmanned aircraft.

The bill has skeptics, however.

“Nobody knows what it would look like if you would take a drone out of the sky right away,” [New York Times reporter Jenny] Medina says, “the mechanics of how it would play out and how it would work.”

And, she says, there are others who defend the use of drones for getting people a view of these wildfires that they might not have otherwise.

The issue is one the drone industry is watching. Some companies provide FAA literature on safe flying in drone packaging. Others, though, say that using cloud-based technology to teach unmanned aircraft where they should and shouldn’t fly is a better solution.

Legislation enacted in 2015 made Maryland one of only three states to grant the state government exclusive power to regulate drone usage, preempting municipalities and counties from enacting their own ordinances. MACo opposed this legislation as a preemption of county authority and was able to secure an amendment to assess the need for new laws or local tools after three years of industry maturation.

MACo, along with the Maryland State Police, are among the stakeholders charged with evaluating any safety or security problems arising from drone use as the industry expands in the years ahead. The stakeholder group will report its findings to the governor in 2018.

Useful Links

Attack on the Drones: Legislation Could Allow California Firefighters to Take Them Down

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Drones Carrying Defibrillators Could Aid Heart Emergencies

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Appeals Court Strikes Down Drone Regulation Law

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Drones Must be Registered Under New Federal Rule

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: General Assembly Passes Drone Bill With Study Amendment

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: To Detect, Deter, & Stop Unsafe Drone Use

That Robot Stole My Job! Where’s My Check?

Imagine that a robot has stolen your job and pushed you into a lower-wage occupation, if not out of the workforce altogether. Imagine that companies, choosing between keeping costly human workers or replacing them with less expensive software and machines, have made the most profitable decision. Imagine that you feel a little desperate.

It could happen, according to Clay Dillow and National League of Cities’ Brooks Rainwater for Fortune Magazine. In fact, a five year-old University of Oxford study estimated that nearly half of all U.S. jobs may be at risk over the next twenty years due to advances in artificial intelligence and automation.


What’s a Silicon Valley thought-leader to do, to prevent fear of unemployment from stifling inventiveness? Advocate that everyone, whether CEO or solely sofa-surfer, gets a minimum paycheck for life. This is known as “universal basic income.”

Universal basic income (UBI) would insulate displaced workers from poverty and quell the potential for unrest during a profound and painful economic transition. Theoretically, it might spur innovation and encourage people to take entrepreneurial risks. It would almost certainly alter the definition of “work” by attaching compensation to whatever people choose to do with their time, including absolutely nothing.

Floated by economists and political theorists for decades, the notion of basic income is enjoying new prominence today. That’s particularly true in Silicon Valley, where several of the entrepreneurs developing the very technologies that fuel fears of a dystopian future—and often profiting handsomely from them—have endorsed UBI as a potential fix. Governments in developed and emerging nations alike have warmed to the concept, launching a bushel of pilot projects. And the inherently “lefty” idea has drawn growing support from libertarians and conservatives, particularly those who view traditional welfare mechanisms as bloated, wasteful, and inefficient.

Of course, the widening support by no means makes UBI politically palatable. Critics have a buffet of objections to choose from—it undermines productivity, it rewards laziness, it’s socialism by another name. There’s no doubt that it would be unprecedentedly, astronomically expensive. The concept also violates a core tenet of capitalism, by assuming that this technological revolution, unlike others before it, won’t create better jobs tomorrow to replace the ones it erases today. …

You know an idea has gone mainstream when one of the world’s best-known CEOs invokes it in an Ivy League commencement speech. In May, speaking to Harvard’s graduating class, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a case for UBI as a means to mitigate automation’s downsides and as a catalyst for entrepreneurship. “We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful,” Zuckerberg said. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income, to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Read the full article here.

Interested in finding out whether your next county employee will be… a robot? Then, do we have the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session for you!

Will Your Next County Employee be…a Robot?

Description: Although it may sound like science fiction, it’s time to realize that the future brings automation to a number of government activities – and it’s coming sooner than we think. From driverless garbage trucks to robot cleaning staff, emerging technology will offer taxpayers innovative methods of service, while offering job seekers new and different-looking opportunities. This session will explore ways to welcome the future of automation to your county.

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Place: Roland Powell Convention Center, Ocean City, Maryland

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Will You Throw the First Pitch?

Screenshot 2017-06-26 15.05.44
Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

State Elections Board Saw ‘Suspicious Activity’

Maryland’s State Board of Elections detected “suspicious activity” on the computer system it uses for online voter registration before last fall’s election and called in cybersecurity experts to evaluate it, administrator Linda H. Lamone said Wednesday.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Lamone’s disclosure came in response to an inquiry by The Baltimore Sun amid reports that Russian cyberattacks had breached election systems in 39 states.

Lamone said the system was not penetrated. She said the activity did not compromise vote tabulation.

“Because of our strong security protocols, the system was not breached,” Lamone said. “However, as an extra security precaution we had cybersecurity experts investigate the system and no intrusion was detected.”

Lamone said Maryland election officials shared the information about the activity with the Department of Homeland Security. She said Maryland’s experts did not determine the origin of the apparent attempted breach. Nor has the state heard back from Homeland Security about who might have made the attempt, Lamone added.

The system that was the apparent target of the attempt is one on which voters can sign on to register to vote, update personal information and request absentee ballots. They said it is entirely separate from the state’s voter registration database, which is not connected to the internet.

Maryland’s actual vote tabulations are conducted by local election officials in Baltimore and the counties. Elections officials say those systems are not online either.

Lamone said the online registration system is monitored constantly. She said any changes made online are verified by local board employees.

Read the full article for more information.

New Resources on County Roles and Opportunities in Advancing Safety and Justice

As nearly 11 million people are admitted to county and other local jails every year, counties are uniquely positioned to lead efforts to advance safety and justice through reducing the misuse and overuse of jails. Five new issue briefs from the National Association of Counties (NACo) address key areas of local criminal justice systems that most affect counties and offer strategies counties can employ to address these issues, make their justice systems work more effectively and efficiently, and ultimately lead to safer and healthier communities. Click below to access all five resources.

Opioid Treatment for Justice-Involved Individuals

County Roles and Opportunities in Opioid Treatment for Justice-Involved Individuals outlines some of the challenges counties face when trying to treat opioid misuse and addiction in justice-involved individuals and highlights key strategies that communities have used to address this issue, including community-based treatment, treatment within the justice system, reentry planning and special considerations for rural counties.

Reducing Mental Illness in Jails

County Roles and Opportunities in Reducing Mental Illness in Jails outlines some of the challenges counties face when trying to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses entering jails and highlights key strategies that communities have used to address this issue, such as strong leadership and collaboration, efficient use of resources and effective data collection and sharing.

Collaboration Across Systems and Programs

County Roles and Opportunities in Advancing Safety and Justice Challenge through Collaboration explores some of the ways counties can develop and enhance collaboration within the justice system and between community-based resource and service providers in local efforts to enhance public safety and improve individual and community outcomes. Regardless of the reasons for collaboration, it inherently requires individuals and their departments to meet and work together to identify and solve problems. Collaboration enables counties to more quickly create a process needed to achieve change.

Pretrial Justice

County Roles and Opportunities in Pretrial Justice outlines some of the many proven policies and processes counties can implement to reduce pretrial jail populations, make more effective use of resources and maintain, or even improve, public safety.

Reentry Planning

County Roles and Opportunities in Reentry Planning outlines a few of the many strategies counties can employ to assist individuals returning to their communities, including improving access to stable and affordable housing, providing physical and behavioral health treatment, offering training and workforce development and increasing transportation options.

Visit the NACo website for more information.