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Springfield Data Center To Provide Municipal Services

Massachusetts is going to offer a secure electronic data storage service for municipalities at a new facility in Springfield. Its part of an effort by the state to help communities with information technology needs.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports

   The state is building a $110 million computer center in Springfield to hold the data essential to the operations of state government, everything from issuing drivers licenses to collecting taxes.  It is being marketed now to local government officials as a place to keep electronic records vital to municipal services.

   The Springfield Data Center’s program director Stephen Dennehy said the center will be operational by the end of June 2013.  He said the  state’s information technology division has had inquires from several agencies and even other states about renting data storage space in the 147,000 square foot building.

   State  information technology  officials say many municipal governments back up important data on a computer that is located right in city or town hall, putting the data at risk in the event of a fire, a broken water pipe , or prolonged power outage.

   The price the state intends to charge local governments for data back ups and disaster recovery services at the Springfield Data Center has not been determined. But Dennehy told municipal officials at a meeting in Springfield Monday that it is expected to be less than what private companies charge. Dennehy said the state will be able to cancel a $1.5 million dollar contract for disaster recovery services after it opens the Springfield facility.

   Timothy Sullivan, the state’s newly hired local government liaison for  information technology said the Springfield Data Center will be showcased at the Massachusetts Digital Government Summit being held next month in Boston.

   Sullivan said municipal officials are being offered tours of the nearly competed Springfield Data Center.

   Tim Brennan, the executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission said having a state of the art secure data center readily accessible in Springfield is a tremendous opportunity for local governments.

   As part of new national security regulations that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks , Massachusetts was required to build a back up to its pimary data storage center in eastern Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick selected the Springfield site in January 2009. The data center is being built at the former Springfield Technical High School.  The façade of the historic school was preserved.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.