Governor: Springs likely to house cybersecurity intelligence center

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Gov. John Hickenlooper

Colorado Springs will likely be the home of a National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center, a planned national resource which, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper during his State of the State Address, will be “the country’s foremost authority on cybersecurity research and development, training and education.”

“The vision for the center will be advanced through collaboration between federal, state and city government, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and the regional technology community,” according to a news release issued by the city.

According to Mayor John Suthers, who attended the address, UCCS is a proposed site, but all signs point to the project coming to fruition.

“I would say, before the governor would make this a feature of his State of the State Address, that he had to feel very comfortable with the likelihood of it happening,” Suthers said. “A lot of planning has gone into this. I’m not sure anything is for sure, but we’re pretty sure.”

The mayor said the next steps will be to create the necessary legal entities and hire an executive director “quickly.”

“The governor has done private fundraising work and we’ll likely see a legislative ask for appropriation to help renovate a building owned by UCCS,” Suthers said. “We’ll try and set that up as quickly as possible.”

Suthers said the scramble for cybersecurity industries will only intensify as time goes on.

“We’re not the only ones who understand cybersecurity is the future,” he said. “In the next five years, it’s expected to grow from a $70 billion industry to a $170 billion a year business.”

Suthers said the project will be a private not-for-profit with public participation, adding both UCCS and the Air Force Academy are expected to be highly involved. He said the intelligence center will open doors to other cyber-related industries, to include manufacturing.

The center will have three prongs, Suthers said, to include a rapid response center that can respond to security incidents, as well as a research center and an educational component.

“Public officials like myself didn’t grow up in the cyber era, so we need tools … to protect the cyber assets of the city or the state or whatever,” he said.

Suthers said the rapid response prong should be active “as soon as we have the manpower and the assets.”

He said Colorado Springs is the perfect location due to its “incredible military assets,” the institutions of higher education and the 80 or so private sector cybersecurity companies operating here.

“Folks who know the industry believe Colorado Springs could be the cybersecurity capital of the United States,” Suthers said. “It could replace the one-time prominence the city had in silicon chips. We were once Silicon Mountain, but cybersecurity could be a big part of our future.”

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said she is proud of the university’s cybersecurity programs and faculty.

“UCCS students are excellent and will build the workforce of the future,” she said. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Mayor Suthers and other public officials as we advance this exciting initiative.”