State and local governments across the country are making strides in the push to digitize government records and integrate collaboration tools into daily communications and processes. As these platforms become more widespread, government offices must prioritize identifying, acquiring and budgeting for the technologies needed to enable records management and archival across all public-sector communication channels, thus allowing accurate and efficient responses to records requests, audits and more. After crises, information requests inundate state public safety offices, making this concern even timelier, and as remote work increases nationwide, securing the new class of digital communication instruments is paramount.
Senior Policy Analyst National Association of State Chief Information Officers
Chief Technology Officer, National Association of Counties
State Archivist, State of New York and Vice President, Council of State Archivists
Senior Director of Information Governance, Smarsh
Robert Cruz is Senior Director of Information Governance for Smarsh and Actiance. He has more than 20 years of experience in providing thought leadership on emerging topics including cloud computing, information governance, and Discovery cost and risk reduction.
Transcription of Webinar Audio
Alisha Powell Gillis: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us today. My name is Alisha Powell Gillis, and I'm the Senior Editor at Route Fifty. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to today's Route Fifty program, Government Records Management and Collaboration: Security and Resources in Times of Strain, underwritten by Smarsh. The move to electronic records has seen explosive growth in recent years. From 2006 to 2016, there was nearly a 1700% increase in state and territorial electronic records, for example. During this webcast, we will explore how state and local governments are ensuring records are secure while fostering innovation and utilizing shared collaborative platforms to deliver transparency in times of unprecedented disruption.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Before we get started with today's program, I'd like to go over a few housekeeping items. To the right of your screen, you'll find several icons, including the Q&A tab, which allows you to ask a question. We'll be fielding those questions for the end of the program, but feel free to submit along the way so we can get right to them. If you experience any technical difficulties, there was a red button at the bottom of the screen that says, "Test your connection." That button will take you to a help page. From there, you can browse a number of technical solutions, or you can chat directly with a member of our support team. Due to an influx of digital streaming and limited bandwidth, if you lose connection at any point during this program, we encourage you to simply refresh your browser.
Alisha Powell Gillis: This webcast is being recorded and closed captioning will be available for the on demand program. Now, I'd like to introduce our esteem panelists for today. First off, we've got Amy Glasscock from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, Rita Reynolds from the National Association of Counties, and Tom Muller from the State of New York and the Council of State Archivists.Thank you all for joining me today. Let's jump right into our conversation. Tom, I'm going to start with you. Get us a flavor for what has been happening, particularly in the last few months with respect to digital records management and how things have changed for states in particular since COVID-19.
Tom Muller: Well, a lot has changed particularly on the side of records creation. Many of the states and local governments have really had to rapidly adopt new technologies to enable them to create records that in the past were in paper form. So notarizations are now done electronically, marriage licenses are done electronically, property transfers are done almost exclusively electronically now. That's put a significant amount of pressure on local governments and state agencies to develop policies and practices to ensure that those records continue to be authentic, that they continued to be legitimate, and from the perspective of state archives, myself and my colleagues on the 49 other states put pressure on us to provide advice and guidance to those agencies and local governments to help them create and preserve those materials so that they're continued to be made available. There's been a lot of change. It's not really a big change in terms of where we were 10 years ago to where we are now. What's happened is we've accelerated the rate of change significantly. This crisis has forced many big decisions that have taken years to evolve to be made very quickly.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Thank you. Sorry, thank you for that. Tom, I want to just pick up on something you said very quickly about while this isn't new, it's just an accelerated change, can you talk about how the past few years have really helped, I guess, prepare states for this moment?
Tom Muller: Well, for the business of managing and preserving records in digital form has been something that's gone up and going on from the archive's perspective since the late 1970s. The practice in the library community, in the library context, the preservation of electronic materials started in the '60s with places like the Roper Center or the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research which has been preserving electronic data since really the early 1960s. But what has happened in the past starting in the late 1970s through the 1980s is a set of practices for ensuring the identification description and then building systems to support the preservation of materials and electronic form, and additionally developing practices to guide those records creators.
Tom Muller: I know here in New York at the state archives, we issued some of our earliest guidance on the management of electronic mail back in the early '90s. We have been very active participants with other state archives in utilizing the large-scale digital preservation repositories based on the open archival information system reference model, which is now a commercially available resource through a number of vendors. But what has happened now is all those tools and practices that we've been advocating and helping others adopt really everyone now sees the need to adopt. The amount of pressure to use those guidelines and leverage those repositories and leverage the practices that we've started to build again 40 years ago is much greater now.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Great, and I will pick up on the guidelines piece and the assistance pieces that you mentioned in a few moments. Rita, just flipping the script to the more local side, can you share what's going on from the county level and share maybe some recent examples of how counties has been shifting to digital records, particularly in the wake of the pandemic?
Rita Reynolds: Sure. Thank you for having me today, by the way. I just want to share a little bit about county efforts in being thrown into this situation. County staff had to react very quickly, and it's been interesting to watch a couple of things that I've seen come up that I find very fascinating and very creative in a number of counties. As was mentioned earlier by Tom, marriage applications are being done online, but in some counties they're even providing a marriage app. Right from your phone, you can submit all the paperwork needed and still a little bit of signatures required, but helping citizens continue with their lives even in the midst of this situation. As we move into this next phase, what I'm seeing in the past, restaurant inspections that many counties are responsible for has been done with paper.
Rita Reynolds: There were some that were using iPads or some sort of app, but now in the light of having to document who is in the restaurant or how many are in the restaurant and do you meet the requirements for reopening, we're seeing a workflow being developed there as well that is digital. A couple other areas I would like to mention, of course, commissioner meetings. A lot of paper passed back and forth, agendas and booklets of paper, and now in the past couple months, commissioners in a number of counties not being able to be present physically are having the documents electronically sent to them or they're accessing them electronically. Folks are realizing we don't have to have all this paper. Out of any challenge, any situation, there's an opportunity and we're seeing that for sure.
Rita Reynolds: A couple other areas I will mention, grant applications oftentimes are done electronically, but a lot of paper still mailed in after the fact or in addition to, and now I've seen a number of states and counties that are saying the electronic version is good enough. So e-signature capabilities have increased greatly in that area. Then finally from a court's perspective, years and years and years of, I'll call it, pulling a little kitty wagon behind you with reams of paper for all of the court session events that are going on during the day, and now court is not being able to be in person or very limited. So counties have quickly moved to what can I send to judge in advance or to the different attorneys in advance electronically? Then in many cases, were the means already there but they weren't being used because folks get used to a certain process, and unless they're in a situation where they're forced to change, keep doing that paper process. That's just a few areas that I've seen and heard from counties where they've quickly gone from paper to digital.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Great. Amy, I want to turn it over to you and give us a sense of where the state CIOs have been stepping into play when it comes to digital records and the management of them.
Amy Glasscock: Yeah, sure. I agree with everything that Tom and Rita said. That's same sort of things we're seeing too. The idea of digital records certainly isn't new for states. In fact, between 2006 and 2016, there was a 1693% growth in state and territory digital records. That being said, what we've heard from the CIOs, for them the biggest shift since the pandemic is the use of electronic signature software. I think that was one of the last things people were willing to give up, that wet pen signature, but they've had to. I think that that's going to be much more widespread and welcome in government now.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Right. I want to pick up on the points that Tom was raising and points that you all have raised quite frankly, is clearly we've seen this massive shift what feels like overnight, to increase use of digitization for things that used to be very paper-based. All these things are happening on the fly and at a such a large scale. I'm curious to hear from your different vantage points, how have state and counties worked to ensure that the quality of their records remain sound, and also how they are building these new policies and procedures, just not necessarily out of thin air, so to speak, but still quickly and en masse to a government workforce? Rita, can I start with you on that one?
Rita Reynolds: Let's start with the quality part, and let's all be real about this. Counties and states were thrown into this so quickly, and everyone wants good quality digitization of documents, but they were more concerned about can everyone get to the data they need, can they get to it securely and, and can they do their jobs? Can we keep employees, county employees, working? That came first and foremost, and as well as safety along with that. Not the quality's not important, but what I'm hearing from counties is that we know, and we're going to talk about this a little later, we have to be better with data governance. One of the things I saw that was shared with me from a number of counties is that you have county employees who can't do their job anymore because it has to be in person. There were quite a few projects that were just sitting there where there were records from years and years and years ago that needed to be digitally preserved.
Rita Reynolds: So quick training to those individuals and scanners, things like that set up for them, even in their home offices, to be able to scan those paper documents in. Guidance given of course by the manager or the supervisor of the project. But first and foremost, it was years and years of project, we can keep you employed and you can meet a need for us that we haven't been able to get to. What I'm seeing in terms of ensuring that location where it's being stored as well as quality, there were tools already in place in many counties to help do that. Tools such as SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, other tools such as document imaging software that is actually used even broader now between OnBase and Laserfiche and some others. Those tools by default have processes built in to help ensure the quality. Again, quick turnaround and helping employees be able to stay employed and do it safely, and then remembering we have to have data governance around this.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Amy, Tom, thoughts on that?
Amy Glasscock: Sure, I'll go. It definitely is a challenge when you're faced with something like this overnight. But I think the main thing to keep in mind is to stick to your records retention policy, know that a record is a record, no matter what the format is, and do what you've always done as far as classifying your records and making sure that you are retaining them for the appropriate length of time based on your own policy.
Tom Muller: If I can just add to that, the word classifying is really important because government ... and we've seen this across all of the states. I see it here in my state and within local governments, public officers recognize and appreciate the importance of the information they handle, and they have a set of standards that they apply to information regardless of how it's being created, whatever the medium is. We've seen a lot of folks think through the process of how do I create this information in a different context or in a different format but still meet the same standards that allow that classification to be applied and the standards that exist for that classification to be maintained? There's a good track record and that track record now extends to a lot more records, not just the ones that are extremely important, but now almost to every set of records that people are creating now in this new environment.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Tom, I'm going to stay on this point about record recreation, and now with government agencies and the workforce themselves who are now record creators. What kind of information or training do government employees actually need when they're doing all of these new processes for the digitization of marriage license or property records and whatnot, and how is that being delivered as many government workforces have gone to a remote operation?
Tom Muller: But I want to paraphrase something that someone else said but it takes a village to create good quality records. There's a security training and managing PII and ensuring that there's no compromise there, so how do you manage and protect that? There's understanding how to classify information so that you know mine is a use copy, it contributes to a record copy of some piece of information. There's folks that have to be able to manage the workflow and versioning and all of that, and how do you use those tools to sort of pre-identify and preordain those versions so you know what's the record copy? There's the folks that help understand what the retention schedules are and what the classifications of the records are and say, "This is what we're making, so when you deal with it, these are the standards that you need to apply."
Tom Muller: There's no one size fits all, but again so many states have dealt with PII, have dealt with security, have dealt with retention and disposition, have dealt with archiving. There's a number of different resources, internal controls, and how that all and how those continue to be maintained. The internal controls officer, the security officer, the personal privacy protection officer, the archivists and the records managers, all ... We've had these kinds of trainings around for many years in many cases there, and I know in our case and in many of the states that I work with. We've had it available as webinars. We're seeing an uptick in the consumption of that kind of guidance, so that's where it comes from.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Rita, what about on the county level?
Rita Reynolds: One of the areas that I see as a challenge for counties when you talk about the digital versus the physical records, and I really ... We knew where physical paper would be. We know that it's in a file cabinet or it's local, and it's easy to track in that case. I agree with what Tom said, officials take their responsibilities very seriously, and knowing that back in that records room, that's where the data is, that's where we need to keep locked was much easier than it is today when it comes to digital records, and where are they stored and can I get to them quickly? So I don't think I go through any presentation anymore without a plug ... Excuse me, just a important conversation around internet access and bandwidth.
Rita Reynolds: That has become even more prevalent in this COVID-19 situation because we have what I would call areas of low connectivity and no connectivity, and if you're in a rural area and even in some cases in a suburban area and you need to get to records and you can't access them because of your connectivity, then that's a problem and something that I know elected officials really struggle with and are working to address I agree with everything else that Tom has said so far in this particular area. But I just want to emphasize that that is a challenge right now, for sure. I could add more, but I'll save it for another question.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Okay. I want to shift gears just a little slightly to talk a little bit more about the technology tools themselves. Amy, you brought up earlier that what state CIOs are seeing are uptake in e-signature software. I'm assuming there's other applications, other hardware even potentially, that have had to be procured in this time period. I'm curious to hear from the CIO perspective how has that been working, as well as what are the considerations in terms of what you actually ... what the parameters, sorry, the parameters in the actual scope of the technology needs that they are thinking of when they're getting this new technology on board?
Amy Glasscock: Yeah, sure. Well, for CIO staff, or even when they're talking about sending the state workforce home to work remotely just like the rest of us, they've been using a lot more collaboration platforms. Your Microsoft Teams, your Zoom, Skype, things like that. When I was thinking about that and thinking about this and thinking about social media and how all of those can create records, it's important to note that an account that is used for state business is subject to public records laws. So whether that be a collaboration platform or whether that be social media chats for collaboration purposes or social media posts related to state business are public records subject to retention policies.
Amy Glasscock: I think as more long-term remote work is adopted, it's helpful to remind staff and people that they should keep personal and business accounts separate, and that really simplifies things. Especially, it can be a little bit mixed up when you're working from home all of a sudden, and you're on Facebook here and Twitter here. It helps to keep public records on public accounts, it limits costly legal battles over public records and makes long-term access of state electronic records simpler.
Alisha Powell Gillis: I'm glad you brought up the communication tools, because I know we talked about this probably in the first round robin about that aspect, not just public records, but the records of government employees themselves, particularly if they're using things like Slack or GChat or Skype. I'm curious to hear from both Rita and Tom how that actually ... what those policies have been looking like from a county and state level and how those might need to change, as Amy alluded to, if there is more long-term remote work. Rita, why don't you kick us off on that one?
Rita Reynolds: Sure. It's a great question, in terms of ... The first question to ask is, do I have a policy in place? I would like to take this opportunity just to share that when it comes to records retention, that's policy in and of itself but there's a bigger governance piece that has to be addressed. One of the sites that I came across years ago, it's called Dema.org. It's Data Management Association, and they have this book of knowledge. It's not a small book, it's about 350 pages, and it really identifies all of the key components of what I would call data governance, everything from metadata to master data, to data security, to data storage, and ultimately at the very bottom, it comes down to inventory your data, being the most important. Do you know where your data is at? The question you ask is how is this situation going to change and alter current policies in place?
Rita Reynolds: The first, and I'm hearing this from counties, I had a really light policy. I really didn't encompass all of the areas that I needed to, and now that we've had a situation such as COVID really recognizing that we've got to take a step back and address those. So lessons learned for sure coming out of COVID-19, it's not a bad thing at all, but making sure that the base policy and governance is there. Then looking at the fact that, from 10 years ago to now, we have what I would call data sprawl ad nauseam. So many years ago, like I said, you knew where your data was. It was in a file cabinet. Now it could be in Dropbox, and when I say data, I'm referring to records, documents whether they're a record or just a document doesn't matter. But you've got Dropbox, you've got all these other sites that I've mentioned, you've got USB drives, you've got the computer itself, you've got your phone.
Rita Reynolds: I don't remember the exact statistics now, but we have more data, and in some cases records, on our phone than we had on a computer from 1960. There were some statistics out there that stated that. How does that affect our policy? Really looking at what are we saying our records, defining those records even more completely, and making sure we know where the security is around those records and how long we're keeping them. I know you have a couple other questions later that gets to the length of how long we're keeping a document or a record, so I'll save my comments for that. Number one, knowing if I have a policy, that's robust enough, and number two, looking at the fact that I have a whole lot more areas to be concerned about now than I used to.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Tom, your thoughts.
Tom Muller: I think my colleagues have encapsulated it perfectly, is that information is now everywhere, and this crisis has sprawled it out even further. It starts with the policies it, starts with governance, and it starts with a clear understanding of what are our record keeping requirements. We have to have records of these things, where do those records live and what are we doing to control and ensure that those records are protected, secure, accessible, but also easily identified and their whereabouts are known?
Alisha Powell Gillis: Great. Maybe as a thought exercise to pull this thread a little bit further on the governance piece is obviously one of the major initiatives that state, cities and counties are going to be undertaking soon is related to contact tracing and building contact tracing teams, which will in and of itself create these extensive digital records around communities public health. I'm curious to hear from you all about as people are building their contract racing teams, what are some of those data components they want to build around it to have that policy that's not light, that's robust, that makes sure that their records are protected and they're secure, that govern the length of time. I'm just going to go around the horn again, and Tom, let me start with you on this one.
Tom Muller: Well, again governments and archives have been managing and preserving sensitive health information for quite some time. In addition, many states have laws that prohibit too many connections and connecting dots of one piece of information to another, which again, in this current context though, that's a great example of a significant change in some high-level policy. But it's also important again to classify that information. If you're doing contact tracing and you're bringing two or three different pieces of information together to able to do something to trace the context of an individual, how long does that new record need to be retained? And how do you manage that new record? Now, the sources of that information may all have separate and independent retentions and classifications and uses and maybe managed in a different way, but the contact information probably has a very short term life and a short term value in order to solve a very specific problem. Again, understanding that you're creating a new record and understanding its relationship to other records is essential in order to be able to effectively manage this new thing.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Rita, what are your thoughts?
Rita Reynolds: I definitely am muted. Sorry about that. A couple of things I would add there, I agree with what Tom is saying, and that's the fact that knowing what data that you're collecting through contact tracing. The contact tracing has been going on for years, but it has been in paper format for the most part. Now we're being given all kinds of opportunities with different types of apps, and it's still going to have the people out in the field doing some of that, but now you've got a mobile app and that data that you're collecting becomes easily accessible compared to it being in paper form. Limiting the data elements that you're collecting without going into any particular named app right now, understanding the difference between contact tracing and notification.
Rita Reynolds: You can still be, say, in a restaurant and on your app, noting that you were in that location, but then later on find out you tested and it's all based on who submits their phone number. So, the only key element possibly being tracked is that phone number. So being able to limit, as I said, the data that you're collecting so that you can't connect the dots. Then how long are you keeping it? That's been a concern I've read and heard from a number of restaurants where they may have to start submitting specific information to the county, and they want assurance is that, "Okay, you're only going to keep it for 30 days, that's what we're telling our customers, and we're being transparent. Here are the data elements that we're collecting," and then being able to audit that. I think it's really important, from that transparency perspective, to be able to validate yes we said we would delete the data after 30 days and yes we have and here's the proof.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Amy, what are your thoughts?
Amy Glasscock: Yeah. From the state CIO perspective, this is a new topic for state CIOs. But as far as the apps go, we're seeing pretty low adoption. I don't think that's going to end up being a huge issue. From the states that have created their own, for example, I'm not a huge uptick in people using those. As far as traditional contact tracing with hiring people, which is what we're really going to have to do, the information should be anonymous. It shouldn't be creating huge records with personally identifiable health information on citizens. It should really just be location. We don't see that as being huge extensive records that are going to be created.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Amy, I'm going to stay on you because we danced around the sexy topic of security. But I really, now I want to go ahead and go on full on and talk a little bit more about how states, counties and cities are ensuring the security of these records, obviously the cyber security aspect of this, and you work with the state CIOs and your organization is very heavily predominant in cyber security. Why don't you talk to us about what some of the more security related aspects are in terms of digital records management, and then also, as states are bringing on a third party vendor to help them build in this technology, what are some of the key elements that they make sure to include in those agreements to hold their vendors accountable for any sense of security breaches or potential issues with accessibility?
Amy Glasscock: Yeah. I would say as far ... when it comes to security and electronic records, the number one thing we preach is data classification, and I'm sure Tom would agree with that, based on his previous comments. But if you can classify the most sensitive information as such, and then also sensitive information as sensitive, then you can really focus your limited resources, because funding is always an issue too, on those records that are the most important to keep secure. That is something that we really advocate for. It's a hard lift upfront if you haven't already been doing, but it's absolutely essential. Otherwise, you're spending a lot of unnecessary money or you're just not doing it because you don't feel like you have the funding to secure everything in the same way. Obviously, you never want a leak or a hack or a privacy slip, but if you can really focus on those records that need the most security, that are the most sensitive, then that really is key.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Tom, do you agree on the classification piece and do you have other thoughts on the cyber security aspect?
Tom Muller: No, I think Amy said it perfectly. I can't add to what she said.
Alisha Powell Gillis: All right. Rita, anything to add on that topic?
Rita Reynolds: I actually took this a different direction and I agree with everything Amy said for sure, but when it comes to county and access to secure access to the records, and hopefully they've gone through that identification process, counties were really intent on ensuring VPN type connections back into the county network or multifactor authentication, if it was to a cloud. I think that's a practical way and everybody, every county should be utilizing those two pieces in some fashion, if not completely especially when it comes to confidential information. Then the other piece that I saw, even though it was very quick turnaround to get employees working from home, a number of counties we have a tech exchange and we dialogue back and forth.
Rita Reynolds: In a number of counties, we're looking for a template for what I would call a work from home confidential agreement, because while they had the policy in place employee acceptable use, they knew that they needed another type of document for the work from home situation, and they wanted to make sure that they covered confidentiality in that as well. Security can take on a number of different meetings, and I think it is important to remember that the end user, that the employee is just as responsible as the technology when it comes to keeping our records secure, especially when there's PII involved.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Excellent. I'm just going to remind our audience that we are taking questions. So if you still have something to submit, we already have several, which is great. If you would like to ask a question, please make sure to enter that into the Q&A, and then we actually ... I'm going to combine what was one of my collect questions with something we got in the Q&A to look more about what are some of the longterm implications of what we're talking about? As our audience member asks, what will happen after COVID in terms of records management? Are we going back to paper, for example, in restaurant inspections? Is there a hybrid system? Are we going to completely shift to now being digital? What do you all think is the ... what this looks like in a year or two from now? I will start with Tom on this one.
Tom Muller: Well, my general sense is that once the crisis passes, we've shown in many cases that we're capable of creating and managing good records in electronic form. So to some extent, there's probably not a lot of looking back. However, that being said, I'm sure, and I'm hearing this from my colleagues and other state archives, that there is going to be some testing. How do we ensure that what we think happens and what we think we did to create good quality records and preservable and accessible records actually worked? That's going to cause us ... Without the pressure of getting people applications deployed and staff working from home and being able to interact with government remotely, without that pressure as strong as it is, we'll have the opportunity to confirm what we believe that these systems really did work. What I'm hearing and what I'm hearing from my colleagues is we're not going to go back too far. We'll take a step back just to ensure that we're doing it right. But the trend that we're on has been the trend quite some time. It just got a lot faster.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Rita?
Rita Reynolds: Yeah. Even as Tom was speaking, I was being a little bit introspective and thinking, "Wow, I've been thinking about this for several weeks, and part of me is, I wish I could predict the future." I do agree that we aren't going to go back to the way things were, and not so much because that we've already ... partly because we've gotten over the hurdle and we've made that transition and now change didn't hurt too badly, but also county government especially is looking at budget holes and significant gaps in funding to cover all of these unexpected costs. County government recognizes, and the IT folks are there to help with this, that we have to continue to do things more efficiently and technology helps us do that, so how can we make it stick? I'll give you one example that I really believe is going to stay around and not go backwards, and that is the use of the instant messaging and the collaboration tools.
Rita Reynolds: Several counties in recent weeks have been talking with ... have demonstrated that their use of Microsoft Teams, for example, increased within a short period of time, four to six weeks, by 400% and 500%. I know, even in our own organization, you can track that in Office 365 and the lines go like this, and then they shoot straight up. I heard someone say the other day, "Yeah. I'm doing more in Teams in communication and chatting than I am in email," and that's what the younger generation, younger than myself, have been saying for a while, that we would eventually transition from email to instant messaging. I don't think we're there yet completely, but I do see that that's one area where we got over the hump. We've got people sharing documents, collaborating in these collaboration sites and seeing it work and seeing it being more successful than the one off when it failed, then you use that one off to not move forward.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Amy, what's your crystal ball telling you?
Amy Glasscock: Yeah, I agree. I think that any changes that we've seen are here to stay. We already were so far along, so it wasn't a huge hurdle. Rita was talking about Teams, and when I was still in my office three months ago, it was this thing that got loaded onto our computers a few months ago, and it would boot up when I turned my computer on. I didn't really know what it did, and now I'm in there having a face to face meeting every day. I can imagine that we'll do a lot more cameras on meetings. Some of the webinars that I hosted regularly as part of my job, and now I'm like, "Well, let's just put our faces on there. We're all doing that all day anyway." But for the state CIOs, there has been such a focus for them, over the last decade or so, on digital government. A lot of that comes from citizen expectations of how they want to interact with government.
Amy Glasscock: We talk about that Amazon experience of you go one place and you get what you need, and it's very simple and you click here and you click here and your information is saved. So digital government means a lot of things when you're talking about the CIO perspective. But I think that it's been helpful in that way, being able to get across maybe some of the, we're always talking about this, institutional resistance to change and culture shifts and making some of those things harder to accomplish when this pandemic has forced some of these things to happen. It's hard to see that there's any going back at this point.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Right. I want to actually stay on that topic really quickly. So, I'll cheat and ask a question of myself and of the audience Q&A on the citizen experience. I think I'm going to pitch this one to you because you were talking about ... I think it was you [inaudible 00:41:48] talking about marriage license and property records, and I'm just curious what you're hearing from county officials, and I guess, Tom, as well state officials in terms of what citizens are experiencing with that, and what is that saying for how they want to interact with their government moving forward? Rita, I'll start with you on this one.
Rita Reynolds: Thank you. Absolutely, the citizen experience has become first and foremost throughout this process, and those who already had a marriage, an online marriage process in place were being looked at how can we replicate what you have? Property taxes, many counties have had an online repository, but then there were a lot that didn't. Generally, when you have that type of information online, it's usually tied to GIS, and we did a webinar probably the second week of March on GIS and the Esri tools. We had almost 1,000 attendees on the webinar.
Rita Reynolds: That, in and of itself, showed, hey, we've got these tools in house, how can we deliver our information for better decision making, but also what citizens are asking for because they can't come into the courthouse now. They can't look up certain pieces of information around properties or their taxes. In some cases, they want to be able to pay it online, and this is an opportunity, as I said. In every crisis there was an opportunity, and this definitely has proven to be a positive experience for those counties that have been able to take some of those processes and get them online quickly.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Tom, from the state side?
Tom Muller: Well, from the state side, let me just share with you a little bit the perspective of how the 50 state archives hold this enormous amount of legacy information. Here in New York our legacy goes back to the 1630s. There's a citizen expectation that they can get to those historical materials. Again, at the institution that I work at, we have 26 miles of paper materials. It's not all online, it's not all instantly accessible, and I won't say how much is. But what the change will be is that citizen expectation now, and our expectation of ourselves to be able to deliver the same kind of experience of people being able to research and do whatever they need to do with this legacy information, which needs to be available to them, and how do we deliver that to them? How do we move to a digitization and delivery on demand model?
Tom Muller: How do we identify those materials that people need to have access to so that we don't do digitization on demand. We have large bodies of digital resources that people can access. Our experience here in the archives biz, which again, deals a lot with legacy information in paper form, I think can be applied to the broader role of government, which also has a lot of legacy paper information and legacy information that needs to be available to people. It's not just the services, it's also the information itself, and people expect to be able to get it from their living room.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Right. Somewhat related, one of the questions that we got from the audience is just how the move towards rapid digitization is affecting government's ability to respond to public information requests. I'm just going to throw that out for anybody who wants to answer. [inaudible 00:45:53]
Tom Muller: I'll take the shot.
Alisha Powell Gillis: I'm going to pick on Rita then. Oh, Tom, go ahead.
Tom Muller: Again, we're speaking from the archive's perspective. We're all about citizen access to information. But again, the challenge comes to every government that holds this information citizens want to have access to is how do you make it as self-service as possible but as safe for everybody in it? That all goes back I think to data classification. Is this information so sensitive that we need to put a lot of time, money and effort into making it accessible, and is it best controlled by delivering it as redacted paper documents? Or how do we manage that? But I think the challenge, and we've been dealing with it for quite some time, is how we try to build and get in front of citizen expectation for instantaneous delivery to any piece of information the government has?
Rita Reynolds: I will add to that from the right to know perspective. I know that there are a number of states at the state level with the right to know [inaudible 00:47:07] that issued guidance during COVID-19 and it really encouraged those applying for or requesting information to only do so in what they called or deemed emergency situations. I haven't heard of it being a problem and folks being unrealistic in their demands. I think for the most part, both citizens have been pretty understanding and counties have done their best to be responsive, but they have looked to the state for guidance so they knew what they needed to follow and to the best of their ability. The other piece of information I saw that was shared is that counties really should write into their disaster for the continuity plan a piece about right to know, and how they would meet those needs in a time of crisis if they haven't already done. A good thing to take a look at it, because I'm not sure that we always think about those type of situations when we're reviewing our continuity plans.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Great. The last question from the audience that I will ... I think this is either for Amy or Rita. For official government documents or financial transactions, are you seeing a rise in requirement for credentialing or digital certificates?
Rita Reynolds: Are they referring to SSL? Could you read the question again?
Alisha Powell Gillis: Sure. For our official government documents or financial transactions, are you seeing a rise in requirement for credentialing or digital certificates? So yes, I think SSL would be one of those things.
Rita Reynolds: Well, that would be part of it. Then it's back to who am I? Am I the person I say I am as I'm completing this transaction? What's interesting, if anyone has sold a house or been involved in a house transaction, it's interesting, but you can actually complete a complete sale of a home online now, depending on what state you're in, and that verifying who you are is done through the digital signing of course of the type of software that you're using. I haven't heard a lot of that, and the bigger issue has been, from state to state, what are we allowed to do? Of course, selling a car, we can do everything online, but who's going to buy a car if you can't drive it. There are some parts of government that we can do everything online, but am I going to do this part of it online? I think that's the bigger question at this point in time. I think it's something to watch as we move forward.
Alisha Powell Gillis: Right. Well, I want to thank our panelists so much for the insightful conversation. We're still thankful you were able to join us this afternoon. At this time, I'm going to give the floor to my colleague, Hayley Furmaniuk to continue today's program. Hayley, over to you.
Hayley Furmaniuk: Thanks Alisha and thank all of our insightful panelists for that great conversation. I'm now excited to continue today's program with Robert Cruz, the Vice President of Information Governance at Smarsh.
Robert Cruz: Great conversation, so we really appreciate everyone sharing their insights. I'm just going to talk briefly about how we're addressing this challenge, what some of the things are that we're seeing, if I can get the slides to move for me. Hopefully that works. Smarsh, we sponsor programs like this because really this is the nature of our business. We capture and we store these communication sources so that companies can meet their information governance, their regulatory compliance, or their records management obligations. We've been doing this for a long time since 2001. The merger of Actiance and Smarsh being pretty much exclusively focused on financial services and public sector business.
Robert Cruz: We've been recognized as a leader in this marketplace, both from Gartner as well as Forester. One of the benefits is, and now more importantly, as companies are seeing this proliferation of communication sources, having the ability to capture all the tools that your employees are using today, whether it's for communication with the public or collaboration internally, we have the ability to capture and store that data so that you can address these specific information requests. What we're seeing in the marketplace is very much consistent to what you all talked about, comments we've heard. This was the path we were on any way. We thought we were going to get here in 2030. It just happened we ended up here in April.
Robert Cruz: Looking at some of the data growth here, Zoom we've seen it, but I've been on a board meeting from my school district where there was very important business being conducted on behalf of the school district, where during the course of the meeting, one board member was asleep. I heard a chicken crow, a dog bark, other activities were taking place. But this was important business for the particular school district. The Microsoft Teams data, individuals are using this as the place for work, collaborating around documents, producing records that ultimately need to be controlled, they need to be governed as you would have governed email or information that's being produced in an ECM system.
Robert Cruz: The other important item is the call information, the SMS and the call volume that's increasing, as well as some of the applications on WhatsApp. I mean, just keep in mind the fact that this happened so suddenly that a lot of organizations and government entities didn't have time to react. So what individuals do is either use a tool that's familiar or a tool that's easily accessible, and so you see this tremendous spike in the volume of call usage as well as some of these other mobile applications. Now, how we're dealing with this. Basically three components of our technology here. We have the ability to capture all these communication sources, regardless of whether it's something on a mobile device or something on Microsoft Teams or Slack or social media or email.
Robert Cruz: Once we've captured that information, we're able to deliver it to one of our archiving products, which I'll talk about in second, and just the different versions that we have available. Then that enables the business applications to be used, whether that's to meet specific regulatory compliance purposes or in discovery, whether that's for commercial litigation or dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests, making that data available at your fingertips at a moment's notice. Now, the things that are unique across each of our different product stacks. The first column, the capture is the ability to capture any of these communication sources. In fact, that number today is over 80 different communication networks that we're able to capture, and if you have an existing archive, why not govern and manage this according to policies you've already established.
Robert Cruz: So deliver this information to the archive that you already have in place, manage it as you would manage email. The second column is where you could deliver it to our enterprise archive or our professional archive basically capabilities where what's different is we respect everything that's unique about each of these communication sources. We know what a persistent chat looks like, we know we're a voice conversation is taking place or where somebody may be using emojis on a mobile device. We have the ability to preserve and play all that rich important metadata back. Finally, on the federal side, we have a FedRAMP authorized federal archive that focuses primarily on text messaging, and I can talk to that real quickly. It's FedRAMP authorized, it runs in AWS. We have direct relationships with the carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. It allows you to run the granular searches to export that information, to send it to a long-term record repository to ensure that you've got all the native attributes of metadata that's associated with that content.
Robert Cruz: The things that we're talking to clients and government agencies on a daily basis, we try to keep this current on our website. The government pages here not only talking about some of the things we're hearing from practitioners, folks that are dealing with the records management implications, but also some of the resources and tools we have available, product data sheets as well as more detail on the things we're doing specifically for FedRAMP on the text messaging side. So we'd love to talk to you further about our capabilities in this area. I think we're well positioned to help companies deal with this transition, which I would agree with the panel, it's not going to go away. There's going to be a new normal, and there's going to be more employees ultimately that prefer working in this remote situation. So thanks again for everyone on the panel for sponsoring today or working with us today on this event. Back to the moderator.
Hayley Furmaniuk: Thanks, Robert. That was a great presentation. With that, we've reached the end of our program. Once again, I want to thank all our speakers for joining us today, and thank you, our audience for tuning in. This event today would not be possible without the support of our underwriter Smarsh. For more information on Smarsh and the work they're doing, be sure to check out the resources tab at the bottom of your screen. This full webcast has been recorded and will be sent to you by the end of the week. Keep a watch out for it in your email and be sure to share the conversation with your colleagues. Thank you again, and we hope that you have a great, safe and healthy day.