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Utah will be site of huge cyber protection facility

By Pam Benson, CNN National Security Producer
  • The new facility will give the NSA much-needed data and computing storage
  • The center will have its own water, electricity and security systems
  • Hatch lobbied to bring the project to Utah

Washington (CNN) -- The United States is building a massive, state-of-the-art data center to help protect the nation's cyber networks.

The National Security Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers broke ground last week on the $1.2 billion dollar facility at the Camp Williams National Guard Post just south of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The new center is designed to strengthen and protect the nation's cyber security.

"In an era when our nation and its allies are increasingly dependent on the integrity of information and systems supported, transmitted or stored in cyberspace, it is essential that the space is as resilient and secure as possible," National Security Agency Deputy Director John Inglis said in a written statement January 6.

The NSA will take the lead at the center, assisting the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies in protecting cyber networks.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, lobbied to get the center in his home state.

"The data center will be part of our expanding efforts to defend our Department of Defense computer systems from cyber attack and will also play a key role in helping Homeland Security keep our government's civilian computer systems safe," he said.

The new facility will give the NSA much needed computing and data storage space. A huge amount of cyber work is already done at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and the Utah center will balance the load across the power grid.

"There are limits on the load," one congressional official explained. "You can't simultaneously run 12 showers in your home."

Hatch said the 1 million-square-foot facility will have 100 to 200 full-time employees with expertise in information technology and electrical and mechanical engineering.

The 240-acre site will be self sustaining, with its own water and sewage plants, electricity and security systems.

The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the project, which is expected to take three years to complete.