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Groundbreaking in Augusta: Georgia’s Cybersecurity Reaches New Heights

June 19, 2017

This morning, in Augusta, Governor Deal leads the groundbreaking ceremony of an exciting new project for the State of Georgia. It’s received strong support and investment from the state, local, and federal governments. We are thrilled to announce the start of construction on the Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Georgia is ranked 6th in the nation for cybercrime. It’s time we get serious about our cybersecurity.

This one-of-a-kind facility will enhance our ability to stay safe and fight crime with a focus on 5 key areas:

  • Education and training
  • Incubator and co-location space
  • Research and economic development
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Cyber Lab
  • Cybersecurity and protection

With the new center, the State of Georgia will be able to enhance cybersecurity practices and understanding in both the public and private sectors. And it will provide the GBI with a collaborative space to take on more investigative cases.

About the Facility

The state has dedicated $50 million toward the project with an additional $12 million coming from the City of Augusta for an adjacent parking deck. These funds will cover the costs to build the unique 159,000-square-foot facility by July 2018. In just over a year, the center will include:

  • Classrooms to train state and local information security officers, and eventually security professionals from the general public
  • A “cyber range” training facility where students will put their skills to the test in a safe environment
  • Incubator space for cybersecurity partners in the private sector
  • Office space
  • Parking deck

 

As you can see in the architectural renderings, the Cyber Innovation and Training Center will include a 1-story auditorium, 5-story office and classroom building, and a parking deck. It will be built on a 16-acre plot of land along the Savannah River.

Cybersecurity Education and Training

One piece of the center — the Cybersecurity Workforce Academy — will focus on educating and training. The academy already offers a dozen courses on awareness, training, education, and professional development. When the facility opens next July, course offerings will expand and include hands-on experience with the cyber range.

What is the cyber range? Think of a police academy’s shooting range; Cadets go to the range to build practical skills that they can’t get in the classroom alone. The cyber range is similar. Students will gain knowledge from instructors first, then go to the range to practice. They’ll learn to identify and prevent hacks. They’ll also practice reacting to a hack that’s already in progress. All this in a safe environment so that, when the time comes in their daily work, they’ll be ready to act.

And it doesn’t end there. After completing one class and receiving their certificate, students are invited back to learn something new. They are welcome to continue practicing their skills in the cyber range and continually improve their understanding of cybersecurity.

Currently, classes at the academy are only open to state information security officers. Next year, they will open to county and city workers. Classes will be available on-site and online.

Internships and Fellowships

Additionally, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) will establish a cyber crime unit. College juniors and seniors in the internship program work side-by-side with GBI agents to solve real cases. Currently, 25% of agents started as interns, and the new facility will allow continued growth for this program.

Meanwhile, GBI will continue its existing fellowship program in the new facility. Local law enforcement officers and investigators will visit the center to train in specialized areas. They’ll then bring this knowledge back to their communities to lead local investigations.

Why Augusta?

Augusta is already a hub for cybersecurity professionals. It holds Fort Gordon — home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command, the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, and the National Security Agency. Augusta University, a partner of this project, is a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

And of course, Augusta is centrally-located in Georgia. In Augusta, the Cyber Innovation and Training Center will be within reach of state employees, universities, and technical colleges across the state.

Learn More

The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) is overseeing the construction and operation of the center. On May 11, GTA hosted a one-hour webinar, now available online. Hear from project leaders from GTA, the City of Augusta, Augusta University, U.S. Army Cyber School, GBI, and the Board of Regents.

You can also learn more about the Cyber Innovation and Training Center from the governor’s office.

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer and Editorial Manager for GeorgiaGov. She visually organizes information and writes blogs on a variety of government-related topics.

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