Friday, May 29, 2015

Civil War Memorial Rededication

There has been a Civil War Monument on the Capitol Grounds for over 95 years, yet many people are unaware of its purpose or why it was put up.  It was these questions which led David Smith to begin a quest to find out about the the monument's history.   David was born and raised in Pierre, SD, and after high school served 8 years in the United States Marine Corps, returning in 1992.

Picture of the original dedication provided by the South Dakota Historical Society.

David’s interest in the monument started while driving around Pierre in November of 2013 when he decided to visit the monument for the first time one evening.  The simple monument, he observed was of a Civil War soldier.  The only information at the monument site indicated it was erected in 1918 and dedicated to the Defenders of our Nation.  As chance would have it, he had a meeting with the State Historical Society to discuss a document archiving project.  After the meeting, he inquired where he could find additional information on the monument.  Matthew Reitzel showed him a folder on the monument which included a photo from the original dedication on June 1, 1920 along with the original dedication transcript.  Matthew and David used their shared interested in the monument to start a restoration project on what they found out to be was the first monument placed on the Capitol Grounds.  They wanted its story and purpose to be an ongoing reminder to all generations of the sacrifices of war and the cost of freedom.  They thought it was unfortunate that the original purpose for the monument had been forgotten over the years.  

As the project progressed, Matthew and David worked with the Governor’s Office and BOA to gain support and approval for the restoration project.  The goal was to add walkways, benches, and lighting as an effort to connect the Civil War monument with the other war memorials on the Capitol complex.  Thanks to the efforts of the Governor’s Office, State Historical Society, Office of State Engineers, Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission, Buildings and Grounds staff, David Smith, and Matthew Reitzel; the monument site has been improved and will be a focal point for visitors to the Capitol.

David recommends you stop over and check it out since the monument has been restored to its place of honor on the Capital Grounds.  David said they also plan to post the information they compiled on a local historical website that provides historical information on other sites around Pierre.  In the near future, they plan to tie this site into an website permitting visitors to have access to historical information such as the original program transcript, history of the monument as well as other historical documents and pictures.

The monument was erected through efforts by the veteran’s group called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).  A number of the veterans of the Civil War came to the Dakota Territory to settle after the war and were part of the GAR.  The GAR had a national organization as well as local groups.  These groups met together at annual encampments in different cities in South Dakota to talk about patriotism, reminiscing about their time in service and remember those who had passed.  They annually decorated the graves of the military on Decoration Day (which later became the national holiday we know as Memorial Day).  They also assisted in establishing the State Soldiers' Home in Hot Springs, SD.  When they approached the State about building a monument, the State gave them $10,000 to complete their goal.  The granite came from Vermont and it was carved in Nebraska.  The monument was dedicated on June 1, 1920 with the GAR National Commander and Governor Norbeck participating in the ceremony.

Picture provided by Keith Hemmelman of the updated monument.

The Civil War Monument will be rededicated on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am.   The monument site is located on the triangle section of land south of the Governor’s Mansion.   The plan is to reenact parts of the original dedication program.   The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War dressed in period correct uniforms will conduct their official rededication ceremony as part of the program.    Everyone is invited to attend.

Friday, May 22, 2015

90 Years of Service Between these Three!

Gary Goeden


Gary Goeden has been with the State of South Dakota for 30 years. He is the Point of Contact for Department of Human Services, Department of Social Services, and the Office of the Governor. He keeps current on the agencies’ key processes, critical applications, and active projects. The state agencies he assists and the BIT PMO team value his expertise and professionalism.


Bryan Dockter


Bryan Dockter has been with the state for 30 years. When he arrived at the state, Bryan worked in BOA delivering materials and mail. His diligence and attention to detail and delivery schedules brought him quickly to the attention of the computer room management who offered him a position. It wasn’t long before Bryan was a Third Shift Supervisor in the Computer Room, a position he would hold for more than ten years until moving to the position of Production Control Supervisor on the day shift. After a few years on the day shift, Bryan was invited to move into the mainframe security world as a RACF (for those of you whose geek roots don’t reach as far back as the mainframe, RACF is the Resource Access Control Facility for the mainframe) and door security administrator. Bryan remains in that position today, performing an important set of security and access functions for our clients and his co-workers.

Roger Reed 


Roger Reed has also been with the State of South Dakota for 30 years! He was first hired as one of the first PC employees in the state working on PC programming. Eventually, Roger landed in the Standards group which he says has proved to be quite a challenge. Today Roger is a Network Security Engineer. Rogers’s duties at BIT include helping out with daily cell phone issues and work requests. He also keeps the Incident Response Document up-to-date and is a valued member working to rewrite the BIT policy documents. Thank you, Gary, Brian and Roger, on your 30 years of dedication and commitment to the State of South Dakota! Keep up the great work!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Microsoft Lync Basic Updates to Skype for Business

As you may have recently noticed, your Microsoft Lync Basic now bears the name Skype for Business Online.  This is a very recent development wherein this Microsoft product is now sporting a new brand.  This was an update that BIT originally thought we would be able to control rolling out to State users, but that was not the case.  Microsoft’s automatic update process is doing it instead.

The most noticeable differences are the new interface appearance, logo and color scheme.  All other functions of Skype for Business will be the same as the previous Lync version.  We are sorry for any inconvenience or confusion this unexpected update has caused for your agency and employees.

A reboot of your computer should change Lync to Skype for Business. If your Lync has not been updated to Skype for Business after the reboot, please contact the BIT Help Desk for assistance.

The below image gives an example of the old Lync interface (left) compared to the new Skype for Business interface (right).


Logon Screen Change for Outlook Web Access

Outlook Web Access (OWA) is the state’s browser-based email client. Outlook Web App lets you access your state email from almost any web browser.  The OWA logon screen you are used to will change on the evening of May 12th around 9 PM. If you access your email from a web browser after that time, the login screen will look different (see below screenshots).   However, after you log in, it will look and function just as before.  No other changes are being implemented.



This change will affect you only if you have previously submitted a Remote Access Device (RAD) form (http://intranet.bit.sd.gov/forms/rad/).  RAD forms are submitted to request state email access on a smartphone or similar device and/or if you need access to webmail.  If you are interested in having OWA access to your state email account, please contact your supervisor.  

For additional information on any of the topics covered above, please contact your agency’s BIT Point of Contact.

2015 Technology and Innovation in Education Conference

In April, BIT/DDN and the K12 Data Center presented their annual “State of the DDN” presentation at the Technology and Innovation in Education conference held in Rapid City. The TIE Conference is an annual meeting for classroom teachers, network administrators and educational administrators.   The goal of the conference is for educators and administrators to share strategies, methods and best practices in integrating technology into the learning environment with their colleagues.

Topics covered in the presentation:
  • Bandwidth History
  • Accomplished & Upcoming Projects
  • Security and Content Filtering
  • Standard Device Configurations and Pricing
  • DDN Video
  • Data Center Service Upgrades
  • Microsoft EES Licensing
  • Google Chromebook Configurations
  • Office 365
  • Help Desk Systems







Wednesday, May 6, 2015

South Dakota BIT’s Broadband Grant Coming to an End

Special thanks to Andy Ogan and Jan Newman for their project management efforts;  Deb Larson for managing the federal reporting and fiscal requirements; Mike Waldner for capacity building; Brandy McBride and Jamie Fry for technology planning; and Chris Marsh, Josh Whitman, Sandra Panicucci and Tim Teaford for address identification and geographic information systems.  This was a significant project that delivered real results benefitting many entities across the state.


South Dakota BIT’s Broadband Grant Coming to an End

As everyday tasks and critical business functions further entrench themselves as online and not in line, the ability to stay digitally connected remains paramount for success for citizens, businesses and the public sector. While highly populated areas enjoy a plethora of high-speed, competitively priced connectivity options, large regions of the country unfortunately lagged behind in technical infrastructure and remained unserved or underserved.  The issues of this growing digital divide caught the attention of Congress and the White House, and through a series of bills and laws ultimately funded by the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in 2009, started an effort to track and improve the nation’s broadband capacity and capabilities.  The program, known as the State Broadband Initiative (SBI), was administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce through the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA).  South Dakota’s participation in this effort was funded by an NTIA from late 2009 through January 2015.

With a statewide reach and eyes and ears in every corner of the state, South Dakota BIT was charged with researching and accomplishing SBI’s national goals while maintaining a local perspective. In late 2009, BIT began generating the first statewide broadband availability map. With their partner, BroadMap, BIT worked to gather comprehensive, accurate statewide broadband availability data from South Dakota Internet service providers. This data includes availability to a census-block level of accuracy, technologies in use (fiber-optic, cable modem, wireless, etc.), and speeds available to consumers and businesses. After conflating all data into a single, statewide dataset and map resource, this information was made available to the public via the web (http://broadband.sd.gov) and delivered to the NTIA for inclusion in the first national broadband map (http://www.broadbandmap.gov).

Collecting the details of South Dakota’s broadband availability was a semi-annual requirement of our NTIA grant. But in addition to collecting these details, verifying the accuracy of the data presented its own set of challenges. By surveying public and private offices, businesses and citizens, the state’s first broadband map was further refined to ensure all areas served by broadband were included. As South Dakotans regularly conduct business and everyday transactions away from the traditional desk, the first statewide cellular “drive tests” were conducted to inspect capacity for the state’s road warriors. By driving over 80,000 miles and collecting nearly 2 million performance measurements, BIT could adjust and update both our wireless coverage maps and those of the cellular providers.

In the end, the entire process of broadband mapping data collection, integration, verification, display and submission to NTIA occurred ten times in five years, providing the most complete and accurate view of South Dakota’s broadband environment to local and national policymakers and stakeholders. BIT’s efforts to ensure accuracy were applauded by South Dakota providers, telecommunications associations, state peers, and by the NTIA themselves.

South Dakota’s SBI grant did much more than just fund a creation of maps and broadband databases. Our first statewide broadband coordination office was established through the grant as well.  This broadband capacity planner and builder sought to bring awareness of broadband issues and challenges across the government, private industry and the general public. Through in-person outreach meetings, surveys, a statewide broadband advisory team, and social media, our capacity builder ensured that the necessary digital dialogues were held statewide in city halls, fire halls, board rooms, living rooms, school offices, and the offices of the State Capitol.

Also funded by the SBI grant was an effort to improve the accuracy of location-based online datasets and services. These activities focused on improving our statewide “address files”, allowing citizens, businesses, researchers and stakeholders to accurately translate urban and rural street addresses to the latitude/longitude coordinates used in location-based research and service delivery. While South Dakota’s largest cities were previously documented to some extent, rural and suburban used of address data often led to grossly inaccurate results, at times being tens of miles off. This grant-funded activity mapped 48 of South Dakota’s 66 counties to have all of their street addresses tracked to either the rooftop or mailbox level. This data was used to improve the accuracy of our broadband mapping work, but has also brought benefits to tax requirements identification and collection and the next-generation of 911 services designed to bring emergency services where they are needed accurately the first time.

South Dakota has a long and proud history of lending a helping hand when needed.  Our fourth program funded by the SBI grant, known as the Technology Planning program, strived to capture everything represented by that spirit and focus it towards technology. Any one of South Dakota’s “community anchor institutions” (CAIs), which included K-12, libraries, healthcare, government offices, public safety, higher education, and community support offices, could register for a no-charge Technology Assessment from our seasoned engineers.  Sitting down with the folks doing the day-to-day business of an organization and listening to their vision for improving their practices, our engineers recognized and drew attention to areas where technology could make big improvements in their operations. 

By reviewing outdated systems, tailoring the latest national IT trends to their local environments, and translating the often intimidating technical mumbo-jumbo into plain English, our team helped to break down common and uncommon obstacles faced in CAI’s across the state. Leaving the institution with a plan to go forward was paramount to the success of this effort.  Each CAI received a thorough written description of systems in place, challenges faced, recommended upgrades, and equipment additions necessary to accomplish the short and long-term goals of the CAI in the technical environment. Additional, deep discounts were negotiated were equipment resellers, allowing reliable, dependable and capable technologies to be affordable for even the smallest location.

The technical roadmaps laid out in the Technology Planning program were used to guide the funds available through BIT’s final grant funded program. BIT administered our own federally funded program, known internally as our Ownership and Adoption program, to provide equipment grants to qualifying CAI’s in support of activities desired and discussed during our onsite technology assessment. CAI’s would apply for specific equipment, prioritize their needs, and describe the specific technical challenges faced by their office. The BIT team competitively reviewed each application and made awards based on technical need, alignment with CAI stated goals, and ability to execute and maintain the technology over time. The enterprise-level equipment awarded was ordered, configured and installed at recipient CAI offices, with follow-ups made as the years progressed to ensure everything was still operational and used as originally intended.  This program awarded over $1,000,000 in equipment to 150+ CAI’s across the state, making vast improvements in CAI technical capacities.  These included improvements to cybersecurity, expanded wired and wireless networks, and upgraded end-user devices.


While South Dakota has chosen to not continue funding the same services and offerings at a state-level, we remain proud of the many improvements made across South Dakota.  Be it the first statewide broadband availability map, the 48 counties with complete address data, the technical improvements made at CAI’s statewide, or the voices heard and repeated regarding the state’s current broadband environment, the South Dakota Broadband Initiative invested the funds, time, sweat, and passion into our state’s digital economy to pay dividends for years to come in ways never imagined.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Outlook 2010 Photo Feature

Outlook 2010 gives users the ability to associate images with user contacts, so that each time an email is received from another co-worker or client, their image will appear at the bottom of the email or in the corner of the email on an iOS device.  Our internal BIT email administrators are able to associate each state employee’s photo with their information in the Global Address List.

Beginning in June 2012, BIT implemented the Outlook 2010 Photo Feature for all BIT employees to use as a reference and customer service tool for the organization. To test this feature, Data Center managers along with the integration team helped to upload staff pictures into Active Directory and made them visible through the state email system.  

BIT is a servicing organization and staff images help to transform our organization from a faceless company to people that our customers can relate to. The personal connection and technology services BIT has to offer our clients is an advantage we have over outsourcing similar services to a private vendor. Photos of our staff will help to reinforce this. 

This is an easy way for new hires to figure out “who is who” within the organization, rather than using the ever-so-informal organization chart, without putting their image in an online directory for the entire world to access. It also works well for meetings with other co-workers and clients, helping to associate a name with a face.

A tremendous amount of positive feedback has been received regarding this feature, both internally within BIT and with other state agencies. It helps assimilate new staff into the agency community faster than before. It provides staff with a welcomed feeling and promotes face to face communication among employees. 

If you are a state agency and are interested in pursuing this feature further, please connect with your Point of Contact.