Street Talk

Street Talk: We are not alone

Hack attack.

June 2, 2017
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West Michigan no longer is the only East Coast location for the Switch data center empire.

The company, which has two massive sites in Nevada, chose the Steelcase Pyramid for its largest East Coast data center. Now, it’s popping up all over the world, with sites in Italy and Thailand, and has announced it is heading to Georgia.

Switch founder Rob Roy and crew announced this month plans for a $2.5-billion data center in Douglas County, Georgia.

The site will join Switch’s other PRIME data centers — Las Vegas, Tahoe Reno, and Grand Rapids — and the 1-million-square-foot site will be nicknamed “The Keep.”

The site will serve the southeast portion of the country.

“Georgia is committed to remaining on the cutting edge of high-tech innovation, and innovative companies like Switch are leading the way in this trend,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said in a news release. “Georgia’s robust technology infrastructure and skilled workforce will benefit Switch in building this new data center and in the company’s future growth.”

The Pyramid site currently has approximately 225,000 square feet of data center space operational, but plans could scale it up to 1.8 million square feet. Switch’s projected economic impact in Grand Rapids in the next 10 years is $5 billion, as it works with more than 1,000 clients such as eBay, Zappos, PayPal, HP and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

A map of Switch’s sites shows both the East and West coasts well covered in terms of redundancy and connectivity, but there’s a big gap in the heartland.

“Where the data industry is shifting, it’s so important to have the redundancy and resiliency for your data,” said Adam Kramer, Switch executive vice president of strategy, in the release.

Goal oriented

The United Soccer League appears to be continuing its flirtation with Grand Rapids.

The world's largest Division II league and longtime member of the United States Soccer Federation recently announced its plans to introduce a third division men's league in 2019. The branding and teams will be announced this summer, but the USL has reportedly identified Beer City, USA, as an ideal candidate for an inaugural franchise.

Grand Rapids was one of several Midwest cities that hosted USL Division III officials in May, alongside Lansing, Toledo, Dayton and Fort Wayne. USL Division III business development director Josh Keller told that ideally, the league would like a minimum of four to five teams to round out a Midwest division, but if interest is there, the league could support six to eight Midwest teams.

According to a press release from the USL, the league is looking to start clubs in markets that have "strong local ownership groups, populations with broad-based diversity, a vibrant millennial and strong family base, established corporate support and stadiums to properly showcase the sport for fans, partners and the public." While Grand Rapids has yet to build such a stadium, a Grand Action study released in December recommended the city consider building a 6-acre soccer stadium that could support a USL team.

Mass confusion

Is it just us, or does there seem to be a lot of mass-disaster training going on in West Michigan?

Since the beginning of the year, health care facilities, educational institutions, airports and even county governments have participated in some sort of exercise that trains participants in emergencies ranging from airline crashes to airborne infection.

At least the latest one took advantage of some vacant retail space.

The city of Kentwood’s police and fire departments recently practiced active shooter training at Woodland Mall in an exercise designed to equip the city’s first responders to react quickly and efficiently to an active shooter threat.

The training took place at the former Sears department store, located at the west end of Woodland Mall. The mall, a longtime partner of the Kentwood Police department, provided the training space that gave officers a chance to train in a large retail environment with multiple rooms, stories, escalators and elevators.

The Grandville Police Department and other local agencies joined Kentwood officers for the training.

“Spaces like malls, factories and schools provide real-life settings that allow officers to train in, and adapt to, different situations,” said Kentwood Police Captain Bryan Litwin. “This was an excellent opportunity to practice our skills in a location we would not normally have access to, and we appreciate Woodland Mall’s willingness to give us this chance.

“We strive to have our officers respond quickly, and many times that means working with other agencies to address a threat. This was a great way to bring several agencies together to ensure our community will be prepared to respond.”

The Kentwood police and fire departments practice active shooter training every two years, as viable spaces become available. However, the training at Woodland Mall allowed the entire department to participate. In total, 55 members of the Kentwood police and fire departments, six Grandville officers — whose jurisdiction includes RiverTown Crossings — and several other local fire departments were able to participate in training.

"Our partnership with the Kentwood police and fire departments continues to grow year after year,” said Lyndsey Hicks, Woodland Mall marketing director. “Each initiative we collaborate on, from National Night Out to the PRICE program to this training opportunity, is a chance for both Kentwood and Woodland Mall to better serve our community.”

Officers were trained to respond to an active shooter individually, in a team and with a rescue task force.

“We pride ourselves on the frequency and high caliber training our officers go through,” Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said. “The opportunity to practice and respond in various scenarios is critical to keeping our residents safe. We greatly appreciate Woodland Mall’s willingness to let us utilize their space for this vital training.”

Risk assessment

Baker College is responding to growing concerns over cyberthreats by adding two graduate degrees.

The Michigan-based college, which has a Muskegon campus, will launch two graduate degrees this fall: an MBA in cloud security risk management and a Master of Science in information systems in cloud security risk management.

Courses begin Aug. 28; enrollment is now open.

“These new graduate degrees will help address the critical need for cyber and cloud security professionals in the U.S., as cyber attacks, security breaches, compliance challenges and new technologies fuel demand for qualified workers,” said Jill Langen, president of Baker College Online/Center for Graduate Studies.

Courses in the concentration of cloud security risk management will be provided through a partnership with Mission Critical Institute in Reston, Virginia. MCI develops cybersecurity education programs recognized by the Department of Homeland Security.

“Baker College stood out as an excellent partner because its online programs are rated among the top in the nation, and it offers strong undergraduate cyber defense programs,” said V.N. Berlin, MCI president.

Baker College will appoint an MCI-certified expert faculty member to teach and mentor students through the cybersecurity curriculum. Courses will include exam preparation for certifications needed for cybersecurity employment in business and government.

The curriculum is based on the U.S. government’s industry standards and best practices developed by the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to help organizations manage cybersecurity risks.

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