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‘Smart’ Law

Governments, meet part of your high-tech legal team: left to right, Antony Haynes, Albany Law; Brian Burke, CTG; Ryan Slattery and Marina Chu, Albany Law; and Derek Werthmuller, CTG.

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 15, 2017) — The names of UAlbany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) and the Albany Law School might suggest they have little in common, but their missions truly gel when they seek to help local governments better understand the legalities of investing in ground-breaking technologies.

With more governments around the world upgrading in such areas as smart streetlights that sense street activity and sensors that collect parking data to assist motorists, CTG recognizes a need for governments to consider the law surrounding such technologies prior to investment.

To address this, CTG began partnering with Albany Law’s Antony Haynes and his graduate assistants on the development of research pieces on cybersecurity, cyber-insurance, data accountability and the inter-networking of “smart” devices (dubbed the “Internet of Things”).

Using their unique perspectives and with insights from CTG, Hayne’s and graduate assistants Tyler Stacey, Marina Chu and Ryan Slattery spent this spring honing in on the legal issues pertaining to governments using new technologies.

Chu investigated what actions governments are required to take after their municipality experiences a data breach, Slattery delved into the issues surrounding the Internet of Things and Stacey researched the legal ins-and-outs of cyber-insurance — a relatively new tool municipalities are considering to lessen their costs when a data breach does occur.

And, as Stacey cautions, “It’s not about if a data breach occurs, it’s about when — because they will.”

“As is the case with all of our Albany Law partnerships, it’s been valuable for CTG to work with Antony and his students on this most recent work,” said Brian Burke, managing director at CTG. “Applying a legal analysis along with CTG’s policy, management, and technology perspectives will go a long way in helping our local government partners better protect themselves and their citizens from cybersecurity threats.”

Haynes, associate dean for strategic initiatives and information systems at Albany Law, said he and his graduate assistants and the project with CTG mutually beneficial. “Because issues related to technology innovations within the context of government law are becoming more and more prevalent, we are glad to have had the opportunity to learn more about it while at the same time providing a resource for CTG,” he said.

CTG will develop the pieces written by Hayne’s graduate assistants into a comprehensive publication that can be used by the center’s worldwide government partners. Haynes will present the culmination of this work later this month at a session CTG Program Director Meghan Cook is organizing at the NYS Local Government IT Directors Association Spring Conference in Saratoga Springs.

This recent collaboration is just another layer to the cross-institutional partnership established between UAlbany and Albany Law in 2015, as well as an expansion of CTG’s existing collaborations with Albany Law. Cook is an affiliate faculty member at Albany Law and, as part of a course she teaches each spring, students from both institutions have the opportunity to work with city officials in Albany and Schenectady on legal intervention options and data-driven solutions for urban blight.

“The affiliation between the University at Albany and Albany Law School is strengthened by collaborations such as this one that bring together students and faculty to explore complex critical issues as cybersecurity and data accountability,” said Ann Marie Murray, UAlbany associate provost for program development. “This initiative continues the ongoing work between CTG and Albany Law, combining policy and research to benefit our students and our public partners.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.