Posted: 2022-06-09 18:46:09
Modified: 06/09/2022 18:44:02
EASTHAMPTON — Over the next year, the city plans to build a dedicated fiber network that will connect all city buildings to each other and to a backup location in a move officials say will increase the security and resilience of its network infrastructure.
The project is funded by a $250,000 grant to the city from the state’s Municipal Fiber Grant Program. The grant was announced at a ceremony last week in Taunton, where Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito recognized the town as a recipient. Easthampton Information Technology Department Director Karin Moyano Camihort attended the ceremony.
“The grant will allow the city to build resilience into its network by building new fiber connectivity,” said Moyano Camihort. “With the increasing number of cybersecurity attacks, it is imperative for Easthampton to develop an enterprise approach to its network monitoring, backup and recovery practices.”
The goal of the project is to increase the security and resilience of the city’s municipal fiber infrastructure by adding a dedicated government network. For example, if a pole falls or cables are damaged after a storm and the city’s internet connection goes down, Moyano Camihort said the city will have another path to stay connected and access its data and to its backups.
“The pandemic has firmly confirmed what we suspected to be true. Our cybersecurity and resilience were poor, leaving resident services and city operations vulnerable. This grant fills many gaps,” Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said in a statement.
The city is one of 86 municipalities and school districts to receive funding under the first cycle of the Community Compact Cabinet’s Municipal Fiber Program. The state’s Community Compact Cabinet was created by executive order signed by Governor Charlie Baker in 2015 to develop best practices for municipalities in collaboration with cities and towns.
Northampton and Amherst have also received grants from the program. Northampton received $250,000 to expand its existing fiber infrastructure and Amherst received $295,925 to expand its existing municipal fiber network to provide connectivity to municipal facilities in Amherst and Pelham and other assets.
For Amherst and Pelham, there will be both cost savings of approximately $30,000 per year and improved technology at sites such as the Centennial water treatment plant and a security radio tower. public, as well as Pelham Elementary School and its town hall, public safety complex and library, where centralized IT services will be available.
“This project will enhance our existing investments to significantly save money and improve services for years to come at Amherst and Pelham,” CIO Sean Hannon said in a statement.
The project will also replace soon-to-be-obsolete public safety technology, reducing potential downtime of this critical service, and improve network privacy and security, reducing cybersecurity threats.
All municipalities can apply for a grant under the program.
With the funding, Easthampton has one year to complete the project, which includes pole applications, fiber optic cables and labor, according to Moyano Camihort.
As a grant recipient, the city receives licenses for end-user training, assessment, and phishing simulation, purchased and managed by the state’s Executive Office of Technology Services and Security. City employees received training on the network as part of a state grant from the City’s Cybersecurity Awareness Program.
Through comprehensive online end-user training, threat assessment and simulation, Moyano Camihort said the city will continue to improve its overall cybersecurity posture.
“Strengthening our cybersecurity posture is never a finished job,” she said. “As attacks grow in number and sophistication, we need to upgrade and improve our efforts.”