Technology - Focus for Florence

Bandwidth is our interstate connection to the world, and we have to be proactive in developing a network that meets our needs and not wait for someone else, because that may never happen. We may be low on the list for Comcast or AT&T because we don't have the numbers. It’s just an economic reality. So we have to be forward-thinking and take action now to begin developing a network for Florence.

We have an opportunity to develop a fiber network throughout the Shoals. Working together we can build and expand wireless technology and a fiber capacity that will enable us to compete with any community in the digital economy. Not only do we recognize the importance of speed and capacity for local businesses, but we know that it is vitally important for each of our citizens as well. We must ensure bandwidth is put in place to meet our growing needs.

We have looked at numerous cities and their different models for delivering bandwidth, then visited several to look at their structure and see what they have already done locally. We further visited with several consultants in varying areas of expertise to determine how best to meet the challenge for our own city. Important decisions are ahead. We will take the time to make wise decisions, yet we will not slow in our pursuit to see this quickly achieved for our citizens and businesses.

I have just participated as a panelist in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) live Cybersecurity Webinar with Rob Sloan, a research director with WSJ. The purpose of the webinar was to provide real answers to questions surrounding ransomware and cyber attacks. As you likely know, Florence was attacked earlier this year, as were a number of cities.

On May 26th, my office received a phone call from a cyber security blogger, alerting us to the attack. We immediately began checking everything within our system, because we know that, despite multiple firewalls and virus protections, a system is never 100% safe. (Anyone who says they can promise you a completely safe and secure cyber environment doesn’t fully understand the scope of these attacks.)

Our IT Department employees are the best of the best professionals, and they are deserving of our appreciation for their immediate response to the threat when it came. I applaud and support them fully. Yet, even with encrypted emails and careful management by our local specialists, who are expert professionals in technology – with more than 100 cyber attacks per second all over the world – it only takes the smallest of opportunities for an attacker to find their way in and wreak havoc.

After learning of the potential attack, the city hired an independent third party to do an assessment of our system. We also met with Secret Service, FBI, and Homeland Security officials in an effort to determine our best course of action. No ransom was requested until June 5th. Then, as distasteful as it may have been, as other cities had also done, we chose to pay the ransom. It was the only way to secure any expectation that our city employee and customer records would be protected, rather than running the risk of that information being released on the dark web. Under the circumstances, we were advised that it would be the better part of valor to do so. Since that time, we chose not to rebuild the original system, but rather to build an entirely new network. Cyber security has been, and remains, an important priority.

Florence is growing in ALL areas, including technology. I am working to insure your needs and our city’s needs are met fully in that department, in every way.

I need your support. Every vote counts, and I am counting on you.

Please, VOTE HOLT on Tuesday, August 25th.

(Please, share this information to encourage others to Re-Elect Mayor Steve Holt for continued growth. Thank you!)

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