Technology updates at Town Hall, current system “archaic”
Caleb Roosa of Freedom Tech gave a technology briefing to the Town Council on August 4, and he didn’t pull any punches.
Calling the file backup system “archaic” and “old school,” Roosa said: “This is what keeps us up at night.” Roosa explained that the Town of New Shoreham still uses magnetic tape backups as the primary means of file backup.
“Shirlyne (Gobern) changes the tapes everyday,” Roosa told the council. “It is functional” but he would like to see “backups going to the Cloud as well.” Cloud backup will provide more safety and security, according to Roosa. Now that the town has broadband internet, at least at Town Hall, he recommends installing the means to facilitate overnight backup to the Cloud. Specifically, Freedom Tech recommends purchasing a dedicated backup device with onsite and Cloud backup.
Roosa also told the council that Freedom Tech recommends replacing the outdated servers used in the town’s infrastructure. He explained that a server is a computer that runs network applications such as domains and databases. Several of the town’s servers are running programs that are no longer supported by Microsoft, and thus are not receiving security updates and are not considered secure.
Councilor Keith Stover asked if the costs associated with these things were $10,000 or $100,000. Roosa thought the town would need one or two servers and
estimated each server to be $5,000 to $20,000. He said there was the possibility of combining and re-configuring some of the other servers. Town Manager Maryanne Crawford said cloud-based backup could cost around $7,600 a year.
According to Roosa, the upgrades are necessary, and he described the “catastrophic” threats facing businesses and municipalities, as hackers deploy ransomware and viruses worldwide.
If the town computers get hacked, “backups are the number one recourse for that,” Roosa told the group. “The number one goal is to keep people out, keep the servers secure to begin with. The old servers aren’t able to get security updates, the backups are the contingency plan. The goal is always to keep intrusion out to begin with.”
Councilor Mark Emmanuelle asked, “As a frugal Yankee, is the old equipment worth anything?”
Roosa explained that most of his clients just take old machines to e-recycling, but that if someone wanted to take the time to pull out the hard drives, then the
old machines might be worth “more than nothing.”
The briefing also touched on the town’s current website and the new website under construction by Civic Plus.
Crawford described the new website as “85 to 90 percent complete.” She said Civic Plus is a municipal program used by several cities in Rhode Island and is designed for the municipality to have the ability to operate and update the website.
Roosa said that while Freedom Tech was not ultimately responsible for the new website, he was ready and willing to help out in any way that he could, suggesting
the Freedom Tech help desk could be used to troubleshoot issues with the new website. “We’re happy to facilitate,” he said.
Second Warden Sven Risom said it would be helpful to have “a gold-star town” to look at as a way to see what types of municipal applications work on a website. Risom said he wanted to “know what is possible; we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Roosa finished by telling the council he planned to set up meetings with every department head to find out what each person needs and what challenges they face. He said he would work toward establishing short- and long-term plans for the town’s technology needs.
“Knowing what these challenges are will help us immensely in improving everybody’s productivity and quality of life,” Roosa said.