How one city trawls social media to inform policy and make decisions

An AI-powered data-gathering platform used by the city of Aurora, Illinois, has helped officials make better decisions, the city’s chief information officer said at a conference in Denver last week. But he also conceded that the platform’s reliance on social media like Twitter and Facebook leaves open the possibility that it’s using great deal of information from unverified sources. Michael Pegues, the top IT official for the Chicago suburb of about 210,000, said at the Smart Cities Connect conference that public safety leaders and other officials in his city often look to ZenCity — an analytics tool that blends official information, news sources and social media — to guide law-enforcement operations and other big policy actions. “We’re learning to be the smartest city in America,” Pegues said, aspiring for an ideal bandied about by many local governments pursuing a “smart city” agenda. Pegues said the ZenCity platform came in handy on Feb. […] Source

Bill would create cybersecurity grant program for state and local governments

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Cory Gardner introduced legislation Monday that would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to give state and local governments grants to purchase additional cybersecurity resources and hire more information-security personnel. Under the State Cyber Resiliency Act, state, local and tribal governments would be invited to put together plans to improve their overall defenses around their computer networks, communications systems and industrial control systems, such as internet-connected devices that operate environmental sensors and other “smart city” platforms. Plans would be designed with the goals of improving overall security, running regular vulnerability assessments and other threat-mitigation exercises and ensuring operational continuity — particularly public safety and law enforcement — in the event of a cyberattack. “As cyberattacks increase in frequency and gravity, we must ensure that our nation — from our local governments on up — is adequate..