How to Adapt to New Technology: A Guide for the Technically Challenged

You’re never old enough to know everything you should. But you’re never old enough to learn through osmosis either, which is why admitting you don’t know how can be just as difficult as taking the steps to learn. For many, this applies especially to new technology, where it’s easy to feel intimidated and stick to old ways of doing things, even when there’s a better solution available. But if you’ve been putting off learning that new system at work, or struggling to keep up with evolving technologies at home, what better time to learn than now?

Despite how overwhelming getting started can feel, learning something new doesn’t have to be a chore. Read more >

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Privacy Risks and Your In-Home Devices

Smart devices can send us reminders, check the weather, make a grocery list, regulate the heat in our house, and…make us prone to security breaches???

We are more connected to our devices than ever before. They do everything for us. But a new worry about these interactions has surfaced: do they protect our privacy and information enough?

When everyday devices connect to the Internet to send and receive information, this information is called the Internet of Things (ioT). It is predicted that by the end of 2022, the IoT will account for 13 billion connected devices, which means 13 billion chances for privacy to be breached or hacked over these devices’ lifetime. Read more >

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How to Make a Big Software Switch Less Intimidating

Oh no you’ve really done it this time!

You’ve met with the vendor. You’ve made the decision. You’ve cut the purchase order. And now? Now you have to go through with it!

A major software change is incredibly intimidating for many agencies seeking an update to their systems. It means dealing with a lot of information, learning new processes, integrating the system, taking the network off-line, and training employees. As a software provider for local governments, schools and utilities, we are no strangers to the intimidation factor. That’s why we’ve pledged a great deal of our efforts towards making the process as pain-free as possible. Read more >

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New Web Portal Aims to Help Small Communities Apply for Federal Funding

Since the passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act earlier this year, there are billions of dollars available for local governments to update crumbling infrastructure. However, accessing those funds is not always as easy as it sounds when navigating the grant application process and accompanying bureaucracy feels more like a funhouse Odyssey than a walk in the park. Luckily, a new joint venture will launch this summer designed to help small and mid-sized cities secure the federal bag.

Local Infrastructure Hub, a collaboration between the US Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and Results for America will go live July 1st as reported by American City & County. Read more >

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Covid Recovery Funds Offer Plenty of Options for American Counties

As reported by American City & County, the US Treasury announced its final rule for the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) under ARPA. SLFRF totals $65.1 billion to be allotted on a per county basis with plenty of provisions that allow counties to distribute these funds as they see fit.

One of the key provisions will allow approximately 70% of counties to declare $10 million as lost revenue, which enables them to allocate that money for the following general government services:

  • Constructing schools and hospitals
  • Road maintenance and other infrastructure
  • Health services
  • Government administration and staff
  • Environmental remediation
  • Police, first responders, and public safety

The Treasury’s ruling also improves revenue loss calculations to include utility revenue and liquor store sale options for counties, clarifies eligible uses of distributed funds for capital expenditures, streamlines options for providing premium pay by broadening the pool of eligible employees, authorizes re-hiring local government staff, and most importantly given ever increasing cyber threats, allows recovery funds to be used for improved cybersecurity. Read more >

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Small Counties Can Make Big Impacts on Economic Mobility

The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently released a report detailing how American counties are uniquely positioned to improve economic mobility for residents. While the report identifies seven key areas that counties can focus on, it notes “county authority generally lends the most breadth in supporting financial security” because counties “can promote and educate residents on saving for emergencies or retirement, facilitate programs to promote homeownership, or enact workforce development programs to increase earning potential.” Such programs can help people bolster their personal resources and have a positive impact in terms of relative economic mobility, which measures how individuals rank in terms of income distribution over their lifetime, relative to their peers and parents. Read more >

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Infrastructure Bills Provide Special Considerations for Smaller Communities

With the passing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, state and local governments will soon have the resources necessary to address longstanding infrastructure needs that traditionally have only been able to be funded on an annual basis. Instead, this bill allows cities and counties more breathing room to fully prioritize major projects and implement solutions over a five-year period to adequately meet the demands of their constituents.

The bill has set aside $284 billion for transportation, $55 billion for water, $65 billion for broadband, $73 billion for energy and power, $21 billion for environmental remediation, $8.3 billion for western water infrastructure (to address drought conditions), and $46 billion for resiliency purposes. Read more >

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New Webtools are Now Available for Creating and Evaluating State Redistricting Efforts

With the 2020 census numbers recently released, rising populations in Montana and several other states will eventually lead to additional congressional seats within the U.S. House of Representatives. Before that can happen, though, each state must undergo a complicated redistricting process to ensure the new congressional districts are drawn to accurately represent constituents without devolving into partisan gerrymandering. While this may seem like a tall order in today’s hyper-partisan political climate, three organizations have already developed powerful webtools that allow anyone to draw new districts according to a variety of criteria. Cooler yet, many states are allowing citizens to submit their evaluated proposals for consideration in how new districts will be finalized. Read more >

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More Jobs, New Blood, and Adaptation in Public Education

With the 21-22 school year fast approaching along with increased anxiety over the uptick in COVID-19 Delta variant cases, there is a silver lining to a looming, potential storm cloud. Namely, that despite significant job losses for public education in 2020, the US added 943,000 jobs in July—220,000 of which were in local education—according to a report cited by American City & County from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This has led to an influx of ambitious and optimistic teachers and education programs determined to showcase what school districts have learned in the past year and how they continue to adapt to ongoing pandemic-related challenges. Read more >

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Local Governments and Blockchain: A Match Made in Digital Heaven

Despite niche interest outside of the cryptocurrency community during its inception in 2008, blockchain technology is starting to go mainstream as local governments explore new ways to utilize the digital ledger system for improved security, efficiency, and transparency.

This is because blockchain technology offers an easy way to track and verify digital transactions. For example, each taxpayer to pay their property taxes to the county through the blockchain would have their payments logged as a unique “block” containing encrypted transaction information and timestamps. Each transactional block would also contain information referencing the block that preceded it (known as a cryptographic hash function). Read more >

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