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Last Updated: June 2011

Case Study

Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition (WC4)

Background

In Washtenaw County, Michigan, local, state and federal partners from the public and private sector are working together to address a community issue: Cyber Citizenship.

When three area youth fell victim to online predators in 2009, one local elected official took on the issue. As a parent in the first generation dealing with plugged-in kids, Washtenaw County Commissioner Kristin Judge felt a personal need to address the problem. As her involvement in the issue progressed, Judge realized it was about more than our kids. The issue of being a good cyber citizen expands to business, family, the economy and public safety.

Commissioner Judge was in the right place at the right time when she met Kelvin Coleman, the former Director of State, Local and Tribal Engagement for the Department of Homeland Security, National Cyber Security Division. That meeting at a national conference in 2009 began the partnership between her county’s government in Michigan and the federal government.

After Mr. Coleman assisted Washtenaw County with a community event featuring two speakers sharing information on cyber security in October 2009, the event team realized one event was not enough. They wanted to keep the momentum they had created and continue to bring together experts in the community. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton recognized the value in working with the community on this issue and agreed to create the Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition (WC4) as a committee of the Sheriff’s Department of Community Engagement.

Description

WC4 empowers community members through awareness and education to use the Internet and related technology safely and securely. The WC4 website was launched in October 2010 to help residents sift through the information, educational material and events related to Internet Safety. WC4 will not produce new materials. Instead, they will follow the lead of the National Initiative for Cyber Education (NICE) and "share the wheel" instead of recreating it.

WC4 has formed five workgroups to focus on these areas: Awareness, Education, Law Enforcement, Policy and Public/Private Partnerships. Local and state experts along with federal partners come together once a month to work on measurable outcomes that complement the mission and vision of the group.

Benefits

WC4 provides a way for experts in the community to meet and work together on solutions to their common problem. Each partner contributes expertise and influence in a wide range of arenas: government, schools, higher education, the business community and home users. With the broad reach of these partners, WC4 is creating a framework for getting cyber citizenship information into the hands of the people who can benefit from it the most.

Shortcomings

Raising awareness about a threat to public safety requires educational material that is easily accessible to all audiences, as well as government involvement.

Implementation Challenges
  • Securing funding takes time and effort.
  • All participants are volunteers, so the level of commitment needs to be strong.
  • Residents feel overwhelmed with information regarding Internet safety.
Future Plans
  • Hold an annual “Cyber Security in the 21st Century” event for students and parents. First event was held at Eastern Michigan University on April 26, 2011, for an audience of 400.
  • Survey community for a baseline of awareness and knowledge of cyber security issues.
  • Participate in National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October) with statewide and local events.
  • Create an avenue for residents to get help when they are a victim of a cyber crime: one phone number with trained individuals who can send residents to the appropriate agency.

Awareness Workgroup

  • Create and administer a smart phone safety awareness campaign.
  • Spread the “Stop. Think. Connect.” message to Washtenaw County residents through multiple channels.

Education Workgroup

  • Find best-practice materials to include on the WC4 website.
  • Continue programming with K-12 students using peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • Continue programming with parents on the topic of cyber citizenship and safety.

Law Enforcement Workgroup

  • Train local trainers to education small businesses how to be a “Cyber Safe Business.” Businesses that participate in a best-practices educational program will earn a certificate from WC4 and a store window decal that states “Cyber Safe Business,” and shows the “Stop. Think. Connect.” logo and WC4 URL.

Policy Workgroup

  • Research best practices for small business Internet Use Policy (IUP), and what area businesses are doing in relation to an IUP.
  • Promote a best-practice IUP to the community.
  • Organize a Legislative Policy Day in Lansing, an educational event that will prompt lawmakers to review and update existing cyber-security legislation that was adopted in the early 2000s.

Public/Private Workgroup

  • Identify private partners and share ways to participate in the program.
References
Return on Investment

A safer, more secure online infrastructure will benefit all residents. It will be difficult to quantify the impact on residents from a financial perspective, but for each small business or home user who is educated and does not fall victim to cyber crime, the ROI will be significant.

Replicable

5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is Highly Replicable)

Effectiveness

4 (on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is Highly Effective)

Category
Submitted By

Kristin Judge, County Commissioner, Washtenaw County, Michigan
Maria Sheler-Edwards, Communications Specialist, University of Michigan

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