Protecting the residents, businesses, and local government entities they serve remains the top priority for local technology leaders, according to a new survey report on city and county technology and workforce trends.

The 2022 State of City and County IT National Survey – a survey of city and county administrators by the CompTIA Public Technology Institute (PTI) – found that respondents overwhelmingly cited cybersecurity as their top priority over the next two years. This is the ninth consecutive year that cybersecurity tops the list of priorities for local technology leaders, not surprising given the high-profile digital attacks against government organizations that have captured public attention in recent years.

In the 2021 survey, cybersecurity and data loss prevention was a top priority for 88 percent of respondents. In the survey this year, this concern continued to hold the top spot with nearly unanimous – 97 percent – support.

According to some respondents, “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and last year’s Colonial Pipeline cyberattack are two major incentives that have shifted focus onto the need for stronger cybersecurity within the public sector,” the report reads.

“Protecting local governments from cyberattacks is a top concern and a full-time job,” Alan Shark, vice president for the public sector and executive director of PTI, said in a statement.

“Cybersecurity has never been more critical to local government tech leaders. The good news is that there are new Federal funds available and more state collaboration efforts now, and these are helping local governments improve their cybersecurity resiliency.”

The report highlighted the creation of New York’s Joint Security Operations Center (JSOC) – announced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year – as an example of “cyber prioritization.”

The JSOC was designed to coordinate state efforts to anticipate potential cybersecurity threats and respond to security incidents. This initiative builds on funding distributed to local governments through the American Rescue Plan Act.

In addition to cybersecurity, local technology leaders are also prioritizing the following over the next two years:

  • modernizing outdated IT systems;
  • innovation;
  • launching or updating digital services for citizens;
  • migrating systems and applications to the cloud;
  • addressing integrating disparate systems;
  • addressing data silos;
  • streamlining procurement processes; and
  • COVID-specific initiatives.
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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.