Information Technology Advisory Committee - Jul 26th, 2018

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Small meeting tonight: David Good, Sandy Pooler, and myself.

The town is getting ready to gather capital requests for FY 20--24. Like previous years, requests will be submitted electronically. The town is asking department heads to contact David Good by Aug 8th if they'd like consultation about their request. Final submissions are due Aug 31st. Last year, most IT-related capital requests originated from the IT department.

Patti Brennan, the town's Munis project manager, will attend our next meeting, to give a presentation about Munis.

We have a short discussion about spam filtering. The town's messaging system is supposed to quarantine messages that contain certain keywords, and that's not always happening. I ask if these messages might be using homographs -- characters that look like English letters, but have different utf8 code points. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDN_homograph_attack talks about this in the context of domain name spoofing, but I can see how the same technique could circumvent a spam filter.

The Hardy School PTO A/V project continues. The PTO has been raising money to purchase classroom projectors and have them installed. They took care of some classrooms last year, and hope to do the rest this year.

Construction on the Hardy School addition is in progress. Eventually, there will be technology upgrades.

The town has had problems getting the Munis Parking Module to integrate with the DMV's mark and clear system. The root cause is still under investigation. It may have to do with MassRMV's major computer system upgrade earlier this year.

The school district is upgrading the software packages they use for CAD, digital media, and digital music. More kids are enrolling in these courses.

The schools will get a bandwidth upgrade next week. The 1 GB/sec connections will become 2 GB/sec. This will support bandwidth requirements for taking MCAS online.

The town will release a water meter RFP in the near future. Our water meter saga continues. Sometimes the equipment misses readings, or the readings are sent (or received) with bad data. Our meter equipment is still under warranty, but the vendor has dropped support for it. Still working to find a resolution with the equipment vendor.

To date, 581 kids have registered for kindergarten via our on-line registration portal. That's an increase from last year. I note that four years at that registration rate would be 581 * 4 = 2,324. That's a lot larger than our current high school student body (which is around 1200 kids). It's another registration bubble. This also makes it challenging to assign kids to schools. The Pierce school has the most room, but that's not where the newly-registered students live.

The police and schools are planning to implement a web-based alert system. Each classroom will have a button that alerts police headquarters when pressed . There will be a two-way mechanism for communications between police and teachers. The goal is to provide rapid response in the event of a school emergency (e.g., a school shooting). This system will be paid for via a grant to APD.