The coronavirus pandemic has launched many new challenges for states, however a number of state chief data officers stated Monday they imagine the widespread transition to distant work and basic disruption brought on by the disaster additionally current alternatives to advance expertise’s function in state authorities.
State CIOs have in current weeks reported challenges in procuring sufficient laptops for his or her distant employees, educating workers on the need of multi-factor authentication and anticipating phishing assaults, and in conserving overburdened unemployment systems operating. However Stephanie Dedmon, statewide CIO of Tennessee, stated the transfer to distant work and elevated demand for digital companies from state companies are possibilities to speed up initiatives that had already been underway.
“Typically day-after-day there’s some alternative … to do one thing we’ve been doubtlessly already speaking about or making an attempt to push with our companies,” Dedmon stated within the opening session of the Nationwide Affiliation of State Chief Data Officers’ digital midyear convention. “However now in an emergency state of affairs they’re definitely extra prone to be open to newer expertise than they have been earlier than. And definitely to not make any gentle of the state of affairs we’re in however that’s within the class of not letting a very good disaster go to waste.”
Dedmon stated Tennessee began a remote-work initiative about seven years in the past that about 30 p.c of the state authorities’s workforce was utilizing not less than part-time earlier than the pandemic arrived. Now, she stated, about 54 p.c of the state workforce is working from dwelling. Although that compelled her division to make an emergency procurement for two,200 new laptops and that the necessity for a brand new software arises practically day-after-day, she stated, the pandemic additionally spawned fortuitous uncomfortable side effects, like an uptick in customers on the state’s mobile app.
“I believe with the demand, the amount and the unprecedented demand with unemployment insurance coverage, our companies have been keen to implement some further applied sciences to extend digital reference to our residents,” Dedmon stated. “That is an space the place I see we are able to proceed to develop that and actually use this with different companies to higher put together and implement extra digital companies. So, we’ve a methods to go. I believe this case, the pandemic, will assist us.”
Regardless of having a distant working initiative in Massachusetts the final six years, state CIO Curtis Wooden stated some company secretaries have been nonetheless doubtful that distant working could be tenable, however that the pandemic has begun to alter their minds.
“I believe the work we had executed prior to now yr or so to be ready for that from a community perspective, from infrastructure and desktop, I believe we have been pleasantly stunned,” Wooden stated. “I used to be really very stunned at how profitable we have been in a really brief order. Our enterprise group I believe was most likely much more stunned.”
Earlier than the pandemic, Massachusetts was increasing its use of Microsoft Workplace 365 and different cloud-based platforms, which Wooden stated ended up paying dividends within the disaster.
“We had made some progress on the previous couple years of placing companies within the cloud,” Wooden stated. “I believe throughout our fast three, 4 weeks, that was a godsend as a result of a few of these purposes would have by no means run in our state information facilities. We’d have had some actual challenges to scalability, particularly for our unemployment system and different purposes.”
To help the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Help, which final week obtained 240,000 new advantages claims, Wooden stated his workplace rapidly deployed a cloud-based name middle and new automation instruments, like chatbots, to alleviate the burden on call-takers.
And to make sure that conversations about expertise are centered on guaranteeing the continuity of presidency companies somewhat than beginning turf wars over who ought to personal a given utility, Wooden stated he’s “retooled” his conversations with company leaders to deal with the ideas of “availability, accessibility, resiliency [and] scalability.” The cloud-based name middle, he stated, demonstrated that maybe authorities doesn’t need to lease as a lot actual property because it does right this moment when cloud-based expertise and distant working environments are performing so properly.
“I believe we should be daring in authorities,” Wooden stated. “I believe we have to modernize our workforce. I believe we have to modernize our skill to supply these companies and that is the best way to go. I take a look at it as an awesome alternative to actually actually change the best way we offer these expertise companies and companies to our constituents.”
Washington state CIO Jim Weaver stated he’s been challenged by the necessity to present safety patches to distant employees and be sure that companies proceed to make use of widespread platforms. However, he admitted that, total, distant working is working properly. Dedmon agreed the change may stick.
“I believe we’ll proceed to earn a living from home properly previous this pandemic calming down,” she stated. “Perhaps even by no means will we’ve our workforce again within the workplace 5 days every week.”
— to statescoop.com