Cloud computing girds governments against natural disaster threats, expert says

June 13, 2019
Written by Folake Dosu

cloud-computing-governments-natural-disasters

For municipal government leaders mulling over cloud computing for data storage, the threat of natural disasters should be a strong motivating factor, according to officials speaking at a recent event in Washington D.C. 

StateScoop reports that Angelina Panettieri, a federal technology and communications lobbyist at the National League of Cities, recommended cloud computing as a superior option for data storage, arguing that it can ensure speedy recovery of critical systems when disaster strikes.

The Public Technology Institute presented this panel, which was through DC CloudWeek, a weeklong conference festival hosted by StateScoop’s sister publication, FedScoop. In addition to the NLC, other represented organizations included Fairfax County, Virginia; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Baltimore, Maryland.

“We handle everything related to local governments, not just technology, and within the last year or so, as we’ve started to see a rise in extremely devastating hurricanes, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons, we’ve seen local governments really looking at what they need to do to improve their ability to communicate with constituents during a disaster.”

“We handle everything related to local governments, not just technology, and within the last year or so, as we’ve started to see a rise in extremely devastating hurricanes, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons, we’ve seen local governments really looking at what they need to do to improve their ability to communicate with constituents during a disaster,” Panettieri said at the panel.

A strong broadband connection must be established prior to a cloud transition, which rural communities often lack as part of their technological infrastructure, the outlet reports.

The emphasis on cloud computing has left government officials scrambling to keep up.

“We had no idea the bottom-up swell for cloud computing would be as big as it is [five years ago],” said Sonny Segal, chief information officer for Montgomery County, Maryland.

Panettieri’s advocacy for cloud computing is tempered by the reality of how challenging of a transition this can be for communities.

“A lot of communities can’t look at this as an option if they don’t have the broadband infrastructure they need to take advantage of it, realistically. There’s infrastructure hardening that’s necessary for any of this to be viable, and that infrastructure redundancy, so that people aren’t just one fiber cut away from the stone age,” Panettieri explained. 

She told an anecdote about a municipal association whose on-premise servers and valuable data would have been lost in a fire were it not for an earlier cloud transition.

“The year previously, they’d moved most of their functions to a cloud-based system, and it became a very interesting case study for other associations and governments looking at how you come back from that degree of destruction, and being able to distribute the workforce, have people work remotely and still continue on with no interruption of services for, in their case, members, but in the case of a local government, residents,” Panettieri said. 

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