The Tech Companies Helping Government Meet Its Mission

This week's release of the 2019 GovTech 100 list, compiled and published by Government Technology, marks the maturation of what began four years ago as a way to recognize companies founded to solve problems unique to the public sector.

Together, GovTech 100 companies represent a growing portfolio of scalable, digital solutions addressing the tough, complicated problems that governments face -- from health care and public finance to urban planning and public safety.

Updating California’s Fire Risk Maps Will Take Time, New Tech

(TNS) — State firefighters are taking on the colossal task this year of updating maps that highlight the most fire-prone areas in California.

Fire officials in Marin say the maps, last updated more than a decade ago, are a helpful planning resource. But in California’s current climate, some say, those projections aren’t as relevant as they once were — the whole state is susceptible to flames.

California Wildfires, Hurricane Michael Top List of 2018’s Costliest Natural Disasters: Munich Re

The costliest natural catastrophes occurred in the United States in 2018 with one of California’s devastating wildfires and Hurricane Michael topping the list, according to Munich Re.

A report from Munich Re on last year’s natural disasters pointed to “clear indications” that man-made climate change is a factor in California’s wildfires.

California Utility Sued by Insurers Over Wildfire Damages

Several insurance companies have filed lawsuits blaming Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for a deadly California wildfire that destroyed 14,000 homes and triggered billions of dollars in insurance claims.

The lawsuits filed by Allstate, State Farm, USAA and their subsidiaries come on top of several other cases filed by victims of the Camp Fire, which devastated the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow north of Sacramento after it started Nov. 8.

Reducing risk in environmental liability policies

A growing trend in the insurance industry is that companies hesitant to insure a property that is vulnerable to environmental issues have started to offer incentives to policyholders who take steps ahead of time to address the risks, based on where the property is located. This attention to environmental sustainability and resilience saves both policyholders and insurance companies significant money in the long term and should become a best practice in the industry.

L.A.’s Long-Awaited Earthquake Warning App Is Ready for Download

(TNS) — Los Angeles has unveiled its long-anticipated earthquake early warning app for Android and Apple smartphones, which is now available for download.

ShakeAlertLA, an app created under the oversight of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city, is designed to work with the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake early warning system, which has been under development for years. It’s designed to give users seconds — perhaps even tens of seconds — before shaking from a distant earthquake arrives at a user’s location.

Technology Trends for the New Year That Are NOT About Security

As we inch closer to 2020, inquiring minds want to know … what’s next?

What new tech devices and features can we expect to cause "disruption" as we move into 2019?

Do you remember that positive feeling when you powered up your first smartphone? Or how about the excitement felt when you started using a virtual home assistant, like Alexa, that controlled things with voice commands?

Perhaps you felt those same positive emotions this holiday season, with cool new tech toys under your Christmas tree. Or, maybe you have been disappointed with tech advances in 2018 and are waiting for something different to surface.

Utah Will Soon Have the Strictest DUI Law in the U.S.

If you’re ringing in the new year in Utah, you may want to be extra careful about how much you drink. The state will soon be enforcing the most-stringent anti-drunk driving law in the U.S.

On Dec. 30, a new state law will limit drivers’ blood alcohol content (BAC) to .05 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood. That means that a 160-pound man who consumes two drinks in an hour, or a 100-pound woman who just has one, would reach that limit. The consequences for getting caught while driving under the influence (DUI) won’t change—drivers can have their licenses suspended, be slapped with fines of more than $1,000, or go to jail.

Enactment of this law, the most conservative in the country, is not the first time Utah has been a trailblazer. In 1983, it became the first state to lower the BAC limit from 1.0 to 0.08. Over the next 20 years, every other state would follow suit. There’s little dispute that this was a good move—in that time, traffic deaths related to alcohol dropped by 10 percent, as NPR reports. There’s a chance, then, that Utah could be setting the US standard yet again.

Power Restored to Last of 10K Paradise Residents Hit by California Wildfire

A Northern California utility says it has restored power interrupted by a wildfire six weeks ago to all customers able to receive it.

Pacific Gas & Electric said this week the last of about 10,000 residents of Paradise and the surrounding area that lost electricity on Nov. 8 had their power restored by Sunday night. The San Francisco-based utility said it still working to restore natural gas service to many customers.