In an increasingly interconnected world that’s reliant on technology for critical services, a number of states are tightening the coordination between IT professionals in government and industry to minimize the potential impact of a disruption to computerized systems. 

Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are coordinating plans for responding to interruptions in services due to cyber-attacks or natural disasters that disrupt computer systems that facilitate critical services.

Government IT departments in the region have traditionally done a good job of maintaining, securing and restoring their cyber-infrastructure, according to Adam Wehrenberg, project director of the New England Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Initiative. But there was a coordination gap between IT and emergency management. “As our world increasingly hinges on technology, we have to shift thinking so that we begin to view cyber-disruptions as potentially significant events, rather than just inconveniences,” Wehrenberg wrote in an e-mail. “Cyber-disruption may not result in a simple e-mail outage, but may be the cause (or effect)  of a much greater emergency.”   

In 2009, Rhode Island officials met with representatives from hospitals, financial institutions, colleges, universities, the military, cable and communications industries, and utilities to identify who the stakeholders were and who could contribute resources to a cyber-disruption response team (CDT).

Go to Emergency Management to read about the cyber-disruption response team.