Connecting state and local government leaders

National Governors Association to Ramp Up State Cyber Assistance

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Steve Helber / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

As more smart communities emerge, states are being encouraged to get policy frameworks in place that secure the front end of disruptive technologies being adopted.

WASHINGTON — The National Governors Association intends to expand the cybersecurity technical assistance it offers to states through a series of summer projects, according to the director of the NGA Future program.

Tim Blute, speaking at a National Institute of Standards and Technology event Tuesday morning in D.C., said the program would build on NGA’s 2016 “smarter states, smarter communities” initiative.

NGA’s mission is to help states create a policy framework so localities can leverage smart technology more efficiently but with cybersecurity on the front end.

“We need to recognize that every aspect of state government has a cybersecurity nexus,” Blute said at the 2018 Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge Kickoff.

Based on the results of the state projects this summer, NGA plans to develop a roadmap other states can use for implementing smart technology securely.

More details will be released at NGA’s winter meeting in D.C. Feb. 23-26.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe made cybersecurity the focus of his 2016-17 NGA chairmanship, as it was for much of his governorship. Virginia governors are limited to one consecutive term, so McAuliffe had effectively two years to prepare the state for the internet of things, said Karen Jackson, his secretary of technology.

McAuliffe’s philosophy was tech companies wouldn’t want to locate in a state they knew wasn’t secure, Jackson said, so his administration set about emphasizing cybersecurity among Virginia’s various "superclusters" dedicated to energy and transportation, among other innovations. Smart communities were to be maximized regardless of whether they were urban or rural.

In the last three months of McAuliffe’s administration, a smart communities working group was established consisting of about 70 interested stakeholders divided among seven superclusters. The group has already released two sets of recommendations with more planned for March, despite the fact Gov. Ralph Northam has taken over.

“We don’t want to impede,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of communities starting to push the envelope and do great things … but we want to provide a safety net."

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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