Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson was invited to speak at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference this past week in Columbia, Maryland, to represent the National Association of Counties (NACo). The two day conference brought together more than 140 leaders from the academic world, the technology industry, and federal and local government to discuss the future cybersecurity educational needs of the nation. Supervisor Johnson, 1st Vice President of NACo’s Cybersecurity Task Force, spoke on a four person panel that focused on developing a sustainable cyber workforce for small businesses and state and local government. The NICE initiative focuses on cybersecurity awareness, education and the workforce. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the initiative is taking new actions to increase the number of individuals who are prepared for in-demand cybersecurity jobs as well as provide a common classification by which to organize and categorize workers. DHS crafted the NICE initiative from the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. During the panel discussion, Johnson spoke about how local governments across the nation are competing with the private industry for cybersecurity personnel. Johnson suggested that local governments should focus their attention on training and incentives to attract and retain the personnel needed to combat cybersecurity in today’s digital age. Johnson also suggested that small businesses and local governments should set up internship programs for college students. “Most college students are focusing on landing a job at a large company or organization after they graduate, such as the NSA. If we can get colleges to recognize the benefit of working for a small business or local government, we will have a better chance at retaining them,” Johnson said. According to Johnson, smaller companies and local governments offer more freedom for IT professionals. “In a company with just 10 IT employees, versus one with over 500, you are recognized and have a greater chance for advancement and learning,” Johnson explained. Part of the discussion also focused on the new Next Generation 9-1-1 system that will pose a challenge for local governments and IT professionals in the upcoming years. In addition to calling 9-1-1 from a phone, the new system intends to enable the public to transmit text, images, video and data to the 9-1-1 dispatch center. “Technology is changing on a daily basis, and local governments need to ensure their employees are staying on top of these changes,” Johnson ended.