In mid-December, the data expertise company that serves Virginia’s Normal Meeting was hit with a ransomware assault that hobbled their legislative operations.
Even nearer to house, Capital Area Medical Heart was lately the sufferer of a cyberattack, rendering your entire hospital “inoperative” for greater than two weeks.
Gov. Mike Parson has already laid out a plan to spend $400 million on broadband for the state — however a good increased emphasis on expertise could possibly be the game-changer that protects the legislature and state companies from the inevitability of a cyberattack whereas establishing Missouri as a pacesetter amongst state governments.
Even with the windfall of cash that got here to our state authorities through the pandemic — and the ensuing infrastructure invoice handed on the federal degree — this will probably be a troublesome session to get something performed. Not to mention one thing that has clearly been off the legislative radar for fairly a while, like expertise updates. With Senate Republicans successfully cut up into two events, Democrats in precise disarray, and a redistricting vote that simply bought much more difficult with the departure of Rep. Justin Hill, it appears virtually foolish to ask.
However my argument right here is kind of easy: There is no such thing as a draw back to utilizing a number of the surplus funds to replace our state authorities’s technological infrastructure.
With cyberattacks getting worse — actual ones, not the type the place a journalist proper clicks to see a web page’s supply code — it’s solely a matter of time earlier than the Missouri Legislature will get hit. Anybody who has ever anxious a couple of Sunshine request goes to be actually peeved when somebody is available in and simply accesses all of their emails with out asking.
This can be a bipartisan, non-controversial concern. Our state wants updating.
It’s not simply cybersecurity, both. Investing in our digital infrastructure might have ramifications for a lot of different points which have plagued Missouri for years, even many years. I’m certain elected officers from the St. Louis area would like to see gross sales taxes paid on all of these automobiles driving round with short-term plates. That might be simpler if the Division of Income was given the funds to considerably replace its laptop methods.
Residents and legislative staff alike would love if the web sites for each legislative chambers have been up to date. I do know this as a result of I’ve been each of these issues, and I’ve struggled to function these websites, which appear to be they have been created once I was in grade college.
Expertise updates may have constructive implications for infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, communication, and so many different points of Missourians’ every day lives that state authorities impacts.
When researching for this column, I typed in “expertise” to the laws search bar on the Home web site. Nothing got here up. On the Senate web site, I needed to hit cmd+F and sort it in … since there is no such thing as a search bar. Nonetheless nothing. This implies certainly one of two issues: Both no payments have been filed which have something to do with expertise, or the state web site’s search perform is damaged.
Both means, the problem must be addressed.
This piece initially appeared within the Jan. 9, 2022 version of The Missouri Instances newspaper.
Conner Kerrigan is a former political communications skilled who lives in Columbia.