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Here’s What Techwire Is Reading (and Listening To)

Current and former state technology leaders weigh in on a new podcast series; Los Angeles County’s plans may offer opportunities for vendors; a California DMV exec talks about innovation in customer service; and a piece of proposed legislation gets a firm thumbs-down in a Silicon Valley newspaper editorial.

Techwire’s staff writes daily, and on our way to finding areas of interest for you to read about, we read a lot of content. Many of the articles we read shape our coverage but don’t necessarily fit into the Techwire model. Here are four pieces we thought you would find interesting.

Davood Ghods
Davood Ghods
A mix of current and former state tech leaders, as well as a couple of folks from the private sector, have been showing up on a new podcast series in recent weeks. If you want to know what these insiders are thinking about, you can hear it firsthand on Davood for Thought, an interview series in which veteran tech executive Davood Ghods quizzes and chats with the names you should know.

As many in the IT community know, Ghods has had a long career in the private and public tech sectors, including having served in several departments of state government as chief information officer (CIO), agency information officer (AIO), deputy director and, ultimately, as chief of the Office of Technology Services within the California Department of Technology (CDT). With his background (he’s now in a senior consulting position with Direct Technology of Roseville), he knows how to talk the lingo to his guests. Among recent interviewees on “Davood for Thought” were:
  • Christian Farland, CIO of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
  • Marcie Kahbody, deputy secretary and AIO of the California State Transportation Agency.
  • Liana Bailey-Crimmins, the state’s new chief technology officer and a veteran of several state government agencies (and the subject of a recent two-part interview in Techwire).
  • Keith Tresh, former state chief information security officer and now the state CIO for Idaho. Tresh also held several executive roles in California state agencies, most recently as commander of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center.
  • Andrew Armani, former AIO and deputy secretary of IT for the state Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, now retired from public service and a partner in an IT consultancy he founded.
  • Chris Cruz, former deputy state CIO and chief deputy director of CDT, and former San Joaquin County CIO who recently moved to the private sector after 30 years in the public sector.

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The Los Angeles County Office of the CIO (OCIO)’s most recent newsletter, OCIOdoings, has a couple of items of interest to enterprising tech vendors who are seeking opportunities to do business with the nation’s most populous county. Topics of interest in the latest newsletter include updates on the county’s IT Enterprise Strategic Plan dealing with mobility, and on the Digital Divide Strategic Plan, on which the county Board of Supervisors received a briefing this month. The newsletter web page also contains links and other resources of interest to those seeking to do business with the county. (The county’s celebrated CIO, Bill Kehoe, recently announced that he’s taking the position of Washington state CIO.)

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A key executive in the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Chief Digital Transformation Officer Ajay Gupta, is among the experts quoted in a movemag.org article about how motor vehicle departments across the country are using artificial intelligence to better manage workload and boost efficiency. “Gupta and the California DMV are on the cutting edge of implementing AI technology,” the article says, “going even further than live chat and intelligent document processing. In addition to piloting AI-augmented proctors for virtual written drivers’ exams — the AI would monitor a video feed of the customer taking the test and flag any potential issues for a human to review — the California DMV is also looking into AI to help optimize workforce management.” (Techwire readers may remember this article featuring Gupta and the DMV’s plans for automation and related topics.)

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The laws regulating California governments’ use of facial recognition technology get a thorough going-over in this commentary in the San Jose Mercury News. Spoiler alert: “A seemingly innocuous bill to extend pandemic procedures would enable major expansion of invasive technology,” the subhead reads. The commentary states: “This seemingly innocuous bill, which only wants to make life more convenient, would facilitate the largest expansion of government use of facial recognition the state of California has ever seen.”
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.