Volume 9, Issue 25 - June 21, 2017
Ransomware attacks are becoming more common 
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
The media has focused primarily on cyberattacks related to election systems lately. Many individuals, public officials and company executives, however, have been just as worried about ransomware attacks. 

Ransomware attacks infect computer networks with a virus that totally shuts down a computer or a network. It prevents access and demands payment to release and restore data on the machine or network. Recent examples of ransomware attacks illustrate the vulnerabilities that government entities face. The ransom costs are exorbitant while the risk of either a loss of data or a service outage is terrifying. 

President Trump's proposed 2018 budget increases cybersecurity personnel across multiple key agencies and, if passed, it will boost the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity unit budget to nearly $3.3 billion. That's all good, but most of the recent ransomware attacks have occurred at the local levels of government and the federal government allocates no funding for that problem. According to a recent report, states spend between 0 percent and 2 percent of their IT budgets on cybersecurity - while all best practices suggest that spending should represent between 10 percent and 15 percent of an organization's budget.

In April, a hacker infected computers at the city of Newark, N.J. The virus rendered all machines unusable. The city's network was compromised and it disrupted digital services.

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Parking your vehicle in a congested part of town can be just as stressful as the drive to get there. Of course there is the thrill of driving behind a pedestrian who has bags in hand and is heading towards their vehicle to leave. Disappointment sets in as they unload their bags, but don't leave or forget where they parked and leave you behind on parking deck Z. There is also the stress of getting to the parking meter before it expires or wishing you hadn't fed the machine such a large quantity of coins. Parallel parking, getting blocked in a space, loading and unloading zones, private parking only... the ordeals of parking are just as long as the lots that are full. But, technology is changing the way we park. 

Testing is taking place for Cyber Valet Services, which allows vehicles equipped with special programming to park without a driver on board in connected car parks. The driver exits the vehicle at the car park entrance and activates the automatic parking system using a smartphone to park itself and returning when the driver is ready to leave. Car parks using this technology are equipped with Wi-Fi, video sensors and artificial intelligence-based solutions. 

In Georgia, the city of Atlanta's ATLPlus app allows drivers to pay by phone and extend parking time without having to return to their vehicle or to a meter. The app will also alert drivers when they have 15 minutes on their parking time. Customers can also  notify a rapid response team if they spot a broken meter. This team is expected to fix the meter within 24 hours. 

In Maryland, the city of Wheaton is also installing smart meters that allow drivers to use coins, credit cards or they can pay through their cell phone. The old meter poles will remain, but the inner workings of them will be updated with the new technology. Law enforcement have access to the meters and can tell if they are expired or in use. All of the meters are solar powered. 
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Indiana- The Indianapolis Bond Bank recently released a request for qualifications for 17 design services dealing with the city's new criminal justice center. The work ranges from civil engineering services to mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. The selection will not be based on competitive bidding but rather professional qualifications. This request for qualifications (RFQ) will determine the short-list of vendors to respond to the corresponding request for proposals. The city is expecting to choose contractors sometime after Aug. 1. 

The new criminal justice center - which includes a new jail, an assessment and intervention facility, and courts - will be located at the former Citizens Gas and Coke Utility plant southeast of downtown. It is expected to cost up to $575 million. There will be two rounds of requests related to the justice center project: a request for design services, and a request for the design and build procurement process. In the design and build phase, the city will also pick two separate teams: one for the courthouse and one for the jail and the assessment and intervention center.
North Carolina- Mecklenburg County commissioners approved to place a $937 million bond package on the November ballot. The last Charlotte-Mecklenburg School bond referendum was in 2013, for $290 million. The bond was approved by voters. The current bond would build 10 schools, replace old ones and add additions to crowded campuses. 

County commissioners also discussed their $1.6 billion budget plan, which does not include an increase to the property tax rate. The capital plan includes $171 million to build six new Community Resource Centers, $151 million for construction of a new Learning Resource Center for Central Piedmont Community College's central campus, $33 million to renovate two county jails, and $65 million to rebuild the library on North Tryon Street. Commissioners decided to delay a vote until August on spending nearly $120 million on a new soccer stadium to replace the Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth. The soccer financing plan calls for the county to spend $71.25 million for the stadium next year, and then another $43.5 million for fiscal year 2020. After that, the county would begin collecting lease payments of $4.26 million a year from the potential soccer team. The Park and Recreation capital budget through 2023 is $277 million, which includes two new indoor regional recreation centers - one for east Charlotte and another to serve the north Mecklenburg towns. A large part of the parks capital plan is the upfront money for the professional soccer stadium.
Florida- Orange County officials have been discussing the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center since 2014. The county hired a Missouri-based architecture company to conduct a feasibility study and recommendations included a parking garage, shuttle system and better connector between the North and South concourse. Expanding the 2.1 million square foot exhibition floor space and recommendations would cost nearly $500 million. The timeline for completion is four-and-a-half years, but convention center organizers and board members want to speed up the construction time. 

The expansion could help draw 25 new events a year, or 250,000 people, according to the convention center's estimates. The county's tourist-development tax would pay for the proposed convention center expansion. The 6 percent surcharge on hotels and motels, which generated about $240 million last year, has caused county and city officials to sometimes be at odds with how to spend the money. Under the plan, a multi-purpose venue with 200,000 square feet of open space for trade shows and 40,000 square feet for meeting space would be added onto the North-South Building's east side. On the opposite side of the building, a project known as Convention Way Grand Concourse would expand 60,000 square feet for ballroom space as well as 40,000 square feet for meeting rooms. It would also create an enclosed walkway for people to travel in between the north and south concourses.
New YorkNassau County engineers have determined that the 110-year old aqueduct running underneath Sunrise Highway is in "very good condition" and county officials are preparing to proceed to the next stages of a proposed project to refurbish and improve the pipe to transport treated sewage from Bay Park to Cedar Creek. A major portion of the aqueduct has been examined and the rest of the pipe is expected to be studied within the next two weeks. Through the study, city officials are hoping to determine whether the pipe can be utilized to transfer treated effluent from the Bay Park Water Reclamation Facility to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant on the Wantagh-Seafood border. 

The county is planning to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to select an engineering firm for design services once the study is completed. The county's plans will include a new pumping facility at the Bay Park plant, a new pipe from the Bay Park plant to the aqueduct, rehabilitation of the aqueduct with an internal lining and a new pipe from the aqueduct to the Cedar Creek facility. The cost of the project is estimated to be $360 million and most of it would come from state and federal grants. In addition, funds from the $830 million that the county received from Hurricane Sandy relief could also be utilized. The design phase is set to begin this summer and is projected to be completed by early 2019. Construction will then begin in mid-2019 and will take up to 3 years to finish. Currently, the Bay Park plant discharges treated wastewater into the Reynolds Channel from a cement pipe north of the Long Beach fishing pier. The nitrogen in the sewer has caused significant damage to the marsh and marine life in the Western Bays. 

Under the new plan, the treated effluent from Bay Park will be limited to 75 million gallons per day through the Cedar Creek pipe. Bay Park is the only location where there would be any increase in discharge but it would only occur 1 percent of the time. The Bay Park plant discharges 50 million gallons of sewage per day into the Western Bays and the plant will implement new denitrification technologies that will reduce the nitrogen by 60 percent. The $2.4 million study of the 9.5-mile pipeline is expected to be completed in the next couple weeks and will help guide the next course of action.
VirginiaThe Virginia state Department of General Services issued a request for proposals on behalf of the Department of Alcoholic and Beverage Control (ABC) to find a larger office and warehouse space for the alcohol purveyor in the Richmond area. ABC is seeking 375,000 square feet of distribution space and 80,000 to 90,000 feet of office space. The state has chosen Divaris Real Estate's Richmond division to process the proposals, which are due by Aug. 11. Preferred sites for the new location would be in city of Richmond or Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan, Goochland, New Kent counties. The plan is to review all the proposals and submit the best one to the General Assembly on Nov. 1 for possible funding by state legislators. The new location could replace ABC's existing nerve center on Hermitage Road, which takes up 292,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. 

Once ABC relocates, the site could be the location of a new stadium for the Richmond Flying Squirrels and Virginia Commonwealth University. Other potential projects for the site include office spaces, residential or a mixed-use development. State officials have set aside $500,000 in the 2017 budget to begin expanding the existing ABC facility, relocating its office and warehouse to existing buildings or constructing a new facility. ABC is seeking a "turn-key" option that would allow the agency to relocate its staff, products and equipment into a new space quickly. The option to renovate and expand ABC's Hermitage Road operation is under consideration but the renovation and expansion should have no interference on day-to-day operations. Prospective proposal applicants can tour the Hermitage Road location on June 20. Some possible sites for a new location for ABC facilities include spots off the Interstate 95 corridor near Ashland and in south Chesterfield County, Goochland County's West Creek development and the White Oak Business Park in eastern Henrico County.
New Jersey- Activists in Jersey City are calling for city officials to consider their input when it comes to the development of the Bayfront property. Forty percent of the property is owned by the city and activists are fearful that possible development of condos and high-rises may lock the city's existing community out of the much sought-after property. Affordable, owner-occupied housing is being advocated instead but most real estate experts state that land in the city is too valuable now for a small density project. 

Preliminary plans for Bayfront show dense development with between 8,000 and 10,000 units of housing. However, the existing request for proposals for the site are being rewritten to ensure that 10 percent of development will be affordable housing. Activists have pushed back, stating that 30 percent affordable housing would better meet the city's needs, and additionally are seeking an agreement to guarantee jobs to residents of the surrounding community. However, city officials have remained adamant on ensuring that the development reflects the high real estate value of the site.

Virginia- The board of supervisors of Albemarle County are considering turning to the private sector to finance and execute the relocation of the general district courthouse. A highly-favored option is the construction of an 85,000-square-foot building to accommodate the general district and circuit courts as well as creating 250 public parking spaces and 100 for judicial employees. 

The board hired a design consulting firm in December 2016 to serve as a development adviser for the project. Over the course of the next two months, the company will study market trends and area demographics to choose the ideal type of partnership for the project- whether the county will act as the master developer, if the property will be ground leased or if the project will take on a partnership of a different form. While the consulting firm conducts the analysis of the potential economic impacts, the city has hired an architect to assess the needs of the courthouse.
New York/New Jersey- Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey confirmed that the proposed Gateway Tunnel project running under the Hudson River will move forward after meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The North River Tunnels that carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rails under the Hudson River between Weehawken and New York's Penn Station are more than 100 years old and will need to be taken out of service in the next decade for safety reasons. 

Christie maintained that the project will move forward with funds from the State of New Jersey as well New York along with the federal government. Amtrak's $24 billion Gateway Program could potentially use a public-private partnership (P3) model to build and finance portions of the tunnel. Christie has already negotiated $15 million of fare reductions to New Jersey transit commuters to make up for the significant delays that are expected due to the project.
California- La Mesa officials plan to solicit ideas for a potential public-private partnership for what is currently the golf course clubhouse, putting green and driving range at the nine-hole Sun Valley Golf Course. The course has been leased by the city for 20 years and the lessees have been under a month-to-month deal since March, when they informed the city of the intention to terminate the contract. 

The 13-acre section of MacArthur Park will revert to city control on June 30, when officials will conduct inspections and begin landscaping work, fill holes and perform maintenance on irrigation systems. The city is preparing for the future of the 22-acre park on short-term and long-term tracks. For the short term, the city hired a landscape architect to prepare a draft design that will include open space for public use, a jogging/running trail and new access points for the 22-acre park. Additional amenities could include a re-designed nine-hole recreational disc golf course, a dog park and a community garden. A meeting to present the first-phase concept is scheduled for August.
In a report published on June 5, the congressional Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force called for the public and private (P3) sector to work together to counter the increasing number of cyber threats targeting patient information and safety within the healthcare industry, according to Theresa Meadows, co-chair of the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force, which was created by Congress through the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 to examine the sector's vulnerabilities. 

The task force created a set of over 100 actionable recommendations focusing on increasing the security of medical devices, improving information sharing to thwart industry threats and attacks, as well as creating a cybersecurity leader position within the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department to set industry standards and align efforts of different departments and hospitals. Meadows makes the case that many different programs and agencies within and outside of HHS are responsible for cybersecurity, but it's critical to have a single person who is responsible for coordinating these activities. Implementing the various recommendations will require a lot of resources which is why participation from the private sector is imperative.
Massachusetts- The town of Chelmsford is considering a public-private partnership (P3) to redevelop 34 acres of what was once Lowell West Campus of the University of Massachusetts (UMass). The UMass Lowell West Campus Planning Committee of the City Council is prioritizing community feedback before moving forward with plans for redevelopment. Suggestions for the site include developing the land for housing developments or commercial use as well as preserving some of the land for its historic significance, to protect the 10 acres of wetlands on the property. 

Council members are looking at enlisting the efforts of the housing authority, a private organization or developer, or of a public-private partnership. The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments is assisting in the planning stages of the redevelopment and expects to produce a draft report to be presented to representatives from the city council over the course of the next several weeks. The property is still maintained by UMass, that has police patrol the premises.
New Mexico- The city of Alamogordo is embarking on a beautification project as it prepares to receive new residents due to the relocation of F-16 squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base, located in the city center. A key part of the beautification entails the rehabilitation of the city's adobe welcome signs which were originally installed in late 2005, early 2006 and are currently in disrepair. 

Two of the three signs were originally funded through New Mexico's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism initiative, which has since been disbanded so the city is considering a private partnership to undertake the sign rehabilitation.
South Carolina- Greenville City Council is expected to approve the master plan for the new signature park planned for the western side of downtown by July 17. The master plan, created by an urban design and architecture firm, includes a large green space, picnic area, basketball court and potentially an observation tower. The plan was created after the firm mapped floodways of the area, formulated a community character plan and created stream and wetlands restoration plans. Before the project can take place, the city's public works facility needs to be relocated from the site of the park. This $25 million project is expected to happen in December of this year. 

To fund the park project, Greenville City Council has earmarked $2 million of hospitality tax revenue per year over the next 10 years to pay for the public improvements. Additionally, the city plans to use public funds to widen the banks of the Reedy River that borders the planned park space. The city plans to hire an agent to assist with property acquisitions around the site of the planned park and is also considering selling a warehouse on Welborn Street to provide funding for the park. The rest of the project funding is to come from the private sector. Organizations under the Community Foundation of Greenville have already made plans to start the fundraising process. Private funds will be used specifically towards park amenities.

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