CALIFORNIA CITY — The City Council, on Tuesday, took steps to shore up the city government’s electronic infrastructure, increasing reliability, security and ability to provide greater public access to its proceedings.
The Council unanimously approved a nearly $300,000 contract with Diamond IT to replace the IT infrastructure, including servers, network workstations and other computers and software systems.
The city first engaged the firm over the summer, after a June ransomware attack brought City Hall to a standstill, crippling computer systems for weeks.
Diamond IT was brought on to restore the city’s systems, as well as evaluate the system overall for vulnerabilities and provide recommendations.
“(Diamond) IT has identified a number of critical infrastructure improvements that are necessary to have a secure and stable IT infrastructure. That’s the infrastructure under which everything runs from: all our computers, our networks, our servers, our data, all that,” Interim City Manager Anne Ambrose said.
Among the issues highlighted in their assessment was a mixture of email solutions in use, some of which were on older operating systems without proper security measures or updates. Servers and other hardware were being used beyond their operating lifespans, and one server that failed in the attack was unable to be restored. Additionally, the hardware network system was not designed for the type of use employed by the city. Desktop computers were well beyond their useful life and many were running operating systems that are unable to be updated to current standards.
As part of the project, separate email systems for the Police and Fire Departments will be migrated to the City Hall system.
Councilmember Jim Creighton asked for assurance that employees will not be able to install any type of software on the city hardware themselves.
The IT improvements will be funded through a portion of the city’s grant through the federal American Recovery Act Program.
The IT improvements are necessary in order to proceed with the second technology update the Council approved, connecting City Hall and the Fire Department to fiber optic broadband.
The two are “hand in hand” projects that need to be performed concurrently, Ambrose said.
The agreement with Spectrum will replace the coax cable Internet connection at City Hall with fiber Internet service by extending the existing fiber line at the Police Department to City Hall and the Fire Station.
The annual fees for the service will be $33,600, versus the current cable service at $11,144. There is an installation cost of $250, according to the staff report.
The city has long experienced intermittent problems with the cable Internet service, a problem that was only made worse during the pandemic with the need for remote work and participation in meetings, Ambrose said.
For example, the City Clerk can not use the online agenda system simultaneously while broadcasting a meeting via Zoom because City Hall does not have the bandwidth to support both operations.
The contract includes improvements to the bandwidth at the Police Department, as well.
Extending the fiber down Hacienda Boulevard will open up opportunities to further bring the service into the city.
“This is really an enormous step forward for our city and our residents,” Councilmember Karen Macedonio said.