State Board of Elections Aims to Boost Election Cyber Security

The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) will spend about $7.4 million to improve election security. Although there won’t be any substantive changes before November’s gubernatorial election, SBE plans to upgrade its systems and software in time for elections in 2020.

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.

According to the Frederick News-Post:

After questions arose in April about the 2016 election and whether Maryland’s election systems were hacked, the Board of Elections received approximately $7 million in federal funds to make election security improvements. The state was required to match 5 percent of those funds, bringing the total to slightly more than $7.4 million to be spread across categories including voting equipment, election auditing, voter registration and management systems, cyber vulnerabilities, training and communication.

In a report from the Board of Elections to state lawmakers, the board said it has earmarked about $3.5 million, nearly half of the federal funds, to identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities. The funds will be used to hire an information security expert, upgrade equipment and software, implement two-factor authentication on workstations and automate the state’s patch management process, according to the report.

SBE has also earmarked $1 million for upgrading voter registration equipment and software and $1.5 million for cybersecurity upgrades and training for election security personnel.

Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.

MACo has partnered with the SBE and local boards of elections to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Partners with State & Local Boards of Elections to Improve Election Security

Read the Full Article from the Frederick News-Post

How Technology Is Helping to Reduce Traffic Congestion & Improve Mobility

The Cobb County Department of Transportation recently announced a data-sharing partnership with Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app powered by the world’s largest community of drivers. Designed as a free, two-way data share of publicly-available traffic information, the Waze Connected Citizens Program promotes greater efficiency, deeper insights, and safer roads for Cobb residents, along with more than 100 other partners around the world.

Launched in October 2014 with 10 city partners, the program has expanded to more than 100 partners including city, state, and country government agencies, nonprofits and first responders. The goals of the program are to reduce congestion, increase the efficiency of incident response, and make data-driven infrastructure decisions.

Waze provides real-time, anonymous, proprietary incident and slow-down information directly from the source: drivers themselves. Partners provide real-time and advanced information about government-reported construction, crash and road closure data.

According to Route Fifty:

The county has spent the last two years integrating its urban traffic control system with geographic information systems, having previously used GIS in operations like water quality assessments.

The Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, or SCATS, can already change traffic signals automatically using cameras that monitor how many cars are queued at lights.

By joining Waze’s Connected Citizens Program, the county is improving its three-year-old Cobb Commute app notifying drivers of traffic speeds with more actionable insights. The county sends its road construction data to Waze and is piloting a dashboard showing road conditions and reported crashes at its Traffic Management Center.

A GIS-enabled traffic platform can also provide previous crash data, as well as identify problem areas on roads. This means counties can get strategic with how they spend money to make improvements.

To learn more about new technology driving new policy, listen to the most recent episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast.

Useful Links

This Georgia County Integrated GIS With Its Transportation System to Improve Mobility

Waze Connected Citizens Program

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Conduit Street Podcast: New Tech Driving New Policy – Part One

One of the hot topics in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session was Next Generation 9-1-1 technology. MACo’s Summer Conference Session, “Calibrating the Compass: GIS in a Next Gen 9-1-1 World,” will discuss how GIS data comes into play and what counties and others need to know as we move forward. The session is scheduled for Saturday, August 18, from 10:15 am – 11:15 am.

The 2018 MACo Summer 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:

Come Together, Right Now, Over… Data

In a recent editorial for The Baltimore SunNicholas Finio and Casey Dawkins of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth take this election season opportunity to opine on an issue at the forefront of transportation wonks’ minds since the beginning of the current gubernatorial term: regional transportation planning.

Not surprisingly, they do not believe we are where we need to be. They point to lack of multi-jurisdictional government collaboration, or political consensus, as the culprit of worsening traffic congestion and inequitable access to jobs, education and housing.

The Center for Smart Growth participated in the “Opportunity Collaborative” three years ago, which was a consortium of local governments, state agencies, universities, businesses, non-profits, and others that banded together to develop a plan to connect housing, transportation, and workforce plans for the greater Baltimore region. Together, they developed the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD).

Opportunity-Collaborative

From the op-ed: 

The goal of the planning effort was to develop coordinated strategies to address the growing economic and social disparities that pose a challenge to the long-term sustainability and health of the greater Baltimore region.  …

The RPSD planning process showed the strength of local networks in addressing issues like housing, transit and equity, but the experience after the plan highlighted the region’s main gap: the lack of coordination among local governments. …

The main obstacle to implementation of policy choices suggested by the RPSD is a lack of political buy-in.

To address these concerns, the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth collaborated with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to mine underutilized data for presentation to local governments, to guide economic development and transportation planning decisions. By presenting the “dark data” resources available from various state and federal agencies and showing how these can be used to provide insights on policy questions at the local level, the team hopes to make the case for better intergovernmental communication and cooperation – stressing the opportunities realized between partners.

MDOT’s Cory Stottlemyer, Senior Policy Analyst, for the Office of Planning & Capital Programming plans to present on these points on the MACo Summer Conference panel, Still Waters Run Deep: Dive Into Your Dark Data Potential.

He will be joined by Benjamin Birge, CountyStat Manager, Office of the County Executive, Prince George’s County, who will show how counties are currently using data sets to guide their plans.

Regional Policy Advisors President Gary Hodge, former Executive Director of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland and Charles County Commissioner, will weigh in on the theme: is data the master, or the servant, of policy?

The presentation takes place on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, from 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm. The Honorable Jeff Ghrist of the Maryland House of Delegates moderates the session.

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:

Conduit Street Podcast: New Tech Driving New Policy – Part Two

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss how new technology is driving new policy in Maryland. In part two of this two-part series, we focus on small cell wireless technology, solar energy siting, body-worn cameras, and Next Generation 9-1-1.

Click here to listen to part one of this series, where we discuss ridesharing, peer-to-peer property rentals, drones, GPS and navigation software, and autonomous vehicles.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

For more great tech, be sure to check out MACo’s Tech Expo at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference. 3 tech-focused sessions (cybersecurity, small cells, and biotech), 50 tech vendors, 1 day only – Wednesday, August 15.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Questions? vwhite@mdcounties.org

New Course Trains High School Students to Be 9-1-1 Telecommunicators

Students in Anne Arundel County will participate in the country’s first-ever program aimed at training high schoolers to be 9-1-1 telecommunicators. Glen Burnie High School is set to launch the program next year, which will focus on teaching students how to respond to a person calling 9-1-1 in distress and how to operate the technology in today’s 9-1-1 centers.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

Twenty-two applied to take “Police Communications: Entry Level Call Taker Training,” a yearlong elective class that includes classroom instruction, simulations and visits to the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s 911 dispatch center.

The 15 who are selected will learn computer-aided dispatch software; mapping location skills; and laws, policies and procedures for taking, screening and dispatching calls, according to the course description.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department, who proposed the program, hopes the class will help to fill vacancies at its 9-1-1 call centers, as well as 9-1-1 call centers across the state. High stress, training standards, and long hours have led to a nationwide shortage of 9-1-1 telecommunicators.

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.

Counties encourage efforts to enhance emergency communications in Maryland. HB 634/SB 285 – Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, urges a statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing public safety industry leadership and expertise to address complex public safety concerns that will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that our residents expect and deserve.

Senate Bill 285, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan, passed the Senate unanimously on February 20. Its cross-file, House Bill 634, sponsored by Delegate Michael Jackson, passed the House of Delegates unanimously on March 15. Governor Hogan signed the legislation into law on April 24th.

At this year’s MACo Summer Conference, learn best practices for assessing, planning, and developing maintenance routines to keep Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data NG911 compliant at a session entitled, “Calibrating the Compass: GIS in a Next Gen 9-1-1 World,” on Thursday, August 16, from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

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

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Cybersecurity CTE Programs on the Rise

Cybersecurity programs that allow students to earn professional credentials or college credit are becoming increasingly popular at schools across the country. The demand for these programs comes amid a skills shortage projection foreseeing 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the high-demand sector by 2021.

According to Ed Tech:

One need not even look beyond the school walls or district boundaries to see how important cybersecurity is — education is, after all, one of the most popular targets for hackers. In adopting these programs, schools aren’t just contributing to the future cybersecurity workforce at large. They could also be training the future employees who will keep the bevy of sensitive data now stored by schools and districts on on-site servers or in the cloud.

But in the broader sense, cybersecurity programs serve a demand for more career and technical education (CTE) opportunities that prepare students who may not have the option of attending college for high-demand career fields. As an added bonus, they provide college credit to those who plan on continuing at a postsecondary education or those who might do so later on.

Read the full article for more information.

Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan, the Commission on Innovation and Excellence is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures. The Commission was originally set to complete its work in time for the 2018 session of the General Assembly, but last October asked for an extension when it became clear the deadline was not realistic. Prior to breaking for the 2018 legislative session, the Commission released a preliminary report detailing its preliminary recommendations.

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan (Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives)

Developing a world-class CTE program in Maryland has become a major point of emphasis for the Kirwan Commission, so much so that it has assigned a workgroup to develop CTE pathways that lead directly into aligned postsecondary technical degrees as well as industry credentials. The Commission has also discussed creating a communications plan to dispel the notion that CTE programs are only meant for students who do not excel in traditional academic subjects.

You can learn more about the Kirwan Commission, as well as its plans for improving CTE programs in Maryland, by attending the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0

Description: The [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was formed in 2016 to answer two questions: Should the state revise current education funding formulas? And what major new education policies must be enacted to put Maryland public schools on par with the best in the world? The Commission released preliminary policy recommendations earlier this year, and has recently sharpened its focus on education formulas — including the pattern and role of county funding. Spending formulas, systematic accountability, and resource equity are all hot topics. How will the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations affect county governments? This session focuses on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education.

Speakers:

  • Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education
  • The Honorable Craig Rice, Council Member, Montgomery County
  • The Honorable William Valentine, Commissioner, Allegany County

Moderator: The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Saturday, August 18, 2018; 10:15 am – 11:15 am

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

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

State Investigating Russian Oligarch’s Links to Election Software

At a news conference on Friday, Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and House Speaker Michael Busch said the FBI informed them that without the state’s knowledge, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin bought the software vendor that maintains part of the state’s voter registration system. While there is no evidence that state elections were compromised, they’ve asked state Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate the Maryland Board of Elections’ contract with ByteGrid LLC and that they’d seek federal assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure there are no breaches during the general election in November.

According to NPR:

“We don’t have any idea whether they meddled in the elections at all,” Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said during a Friday press conference. “We just know that there’s Russian investment into the vendor system that we use to operate our elections.”

Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator for Maryland’s State Board of Elections, said in a statement that her office will work to confirm that no fraudulent actions have taken place.

Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, in a statement, echoed calls by Miller and Busch, both Democrats, for the state’s board of election to evaluate and address any vulnerabilities within its system.

“While the information relayed to us did not indicate that any wrongdoing or criminal acts have been discovered, we are fast approaching an election in November, and even the appearance of the potential for bad actors to have any influence on our election infrastructure could undermine public trust in the integrity of our election system,” Hogan said.

MACo is actively engaged 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 have partnered with SBE identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for the upcoming general election. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Read the full article for more information.

At MACo’s Summer Conference, attendees will see a demonstration of what can happen to a 9-1-1 Call Center during a cyber attack from the Maryland Air National Guard and Maryland Defense Force. Attendees will also hear from leading cybersecurity firms how counties can work with their employees to keep all data and critical infrastructure safe. The Center for Internet Security will share free tools available to county governments seeking to assess their cyber preparedness. An Israeli-based firm Radiflow will present cyber-security solutions for infrastructure including public water and wastewater systems, transportation and energy systems.

Speakers for the Summer Conference session include:

  • Ryan Spelman, MPA GSLC GCCC, Senior Director, Business Development, Center for Internet Security
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Molina, Maryland Air National Guard and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kendzierski, Maryland Defense Force
  • Ilan Barda, CEO, Radiflow

The Honorable Edward Reilly, Maryland State Senate will moderate this panel.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Conduit Street Podcast: New Tech Driving New Policy – Part One

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss how new technology is driving new policy in Maryland. In part one of this two-part series, we focus on new and evolving technology that is external to government – ridesharing, peer-to-peer property rentals, drones, GPS and navigation software, and autonomous vehicles.

Stay tuned for part two of our discussion, which will focus on how new policies could impact new technologies and their effect on land use, zoning, public safety, and privacy/transparency.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

For more great tech, be sure to check out MACo’s Tech Expo at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference. 3 tech-focused sessions (cybersecurity, small cells, and biotech), 50 tech vendors, 1 day only – Wednesday, August 15.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Questions? vwhite@mdcounties.org

State Computer Glitch May Affect 80,000 Voters

Maryland election officials say a computer glitch at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may impact up to 80,000 voters, almost four times as many Marylanders as officials first estimated last week. The computer mishap affected Maryland voters who used MVA kiosks to update their registration address or party affiliation beginning in April 2017. The problem? The updated information was never sent to the State Board of Elections.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

When those voters show up at the polls Tuesday, the correct information will not be in the poll books and they will have to vote on a provisional ballot. Those ballots will be counted later, on July 5.

“No one gets turned away,” said Nikki Charlson, deputy state elections administrator.

Election officials said they likely will not be able to say how many provisional ballots have been cast until Friday. The delay could make it difficult to know the outcome of close races on election night.

Officials say affected voters should report to the polling place linked with their current address and vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are generally used when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility. Additional information, including a video on the process, is available on the State Board of Elections website.

Poll workers will be available at polling sites to assist voters with questions about provisional ballots. Voters can also contact the State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-8683 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. or email info.SBE@maryland.gov.

Read the full article for more information.

White House Releases Government Reform Proposal

On Thursday, the White House released a 132-page report detailing specific opportunities for reform of the Federal government. The comprehensive report lists 32 recommendations for organizational realignments, reassignments, consolidations, privatization of certain government services, disposition of government-owned assets, technology upgrades, customer service improvements, process reform, and more.

The report contends to address the federal government’s inefficiencies. It does not make recommendations for reducing the federal workforce – another goal put forth by the Administration.

The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic and inefficient.

– Mick Mulvaney, Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

silhouettes-81830_1920The report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations,”  comes out as most of the country focuses on immigration policy and reform. In fact, it appears few news outlets have picked up the report release at all.

But, Route Fifty did – with focus given to potential affects on local governments

One noteworthy change would shift the $3 billion community development block grant program, or CDBG, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to a new Bureau of Economic Growth under the Department of Commerce. …

The reorganization plan would also move the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

Other noteworthy recommendations include:

  • Merging the Departments of Education and Labor into one Department of Education and the Workforce
  • Moving the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works out of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Reorganizing the Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection
    Service and the food safety functions of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a single agency within USDA
  • Merging the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Marine Fisheries Service with DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service, centralizing dam permit review
  • Selling specific transmission assets owned by the Department of Energy (DOE), and generally, focus on disposing unneeded or undesired federal real estate
  • Either wholly restructure the postal system or privatize it altogether
  • Reorganize the Department of Transportation
  • Limit federal support for home purchasing:

….ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reducing their role in the housing market, and providing an explicit, limited Federal backstop that is on-budget and apart from the Federal support for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

Read the full report here.