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Commonwealth of Virginia State Seal


Chief Information Officer
Robert Osmond
Virginia Information Technologies Agency7325 Beaufont Springs Drive
Richmond, VA 23225
(804) 510-7300TDD VOICE -TEL. NO. 711
For additional information contact:
Lindsay LeGrand, APR
Director of Communications
Wed, 31 May 2023 10:28:00 EDT
For immediate release

Virginians encouraged to get ready for hurricane season by setting up a digital preparedness kit

The Virginia IT Agency and Virginia Department of Emergency Management are teaming up to share important preparedness tips
(Richmond, VA) - 

With hurricane season starting on June 1, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) are encouraging people in the Commonwealth to get ready now by setting up a ‘digital preparedness kit’ to help stormproof your electronic devices and digital information.

“When it comes to preparing for hurricane season, you may not necessarily think about digitization or protecting your computers, smart phones and other electronics,” said Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Robert Osmond. “However, technology is a critical response and recovery tool, allowing you to stay connected and have access to life-saving and life-sustaining information before, during and after a disaster.”

"Preparing your digital devices and assets is just as essential to hurricane readiness as strengthening your home and gathering emergency supplies," said State Coordinator of Emergency Management Shawn Talmadge. "When a disaster strikes, you must have several ways to receive warnings, alerts and updates, including Wireless Emergency Alerts, weather apps, verified government agency social media accounts and other digital communications. Identifying those trusted and reliable sources beforehand will help keep you informed, safe and protected from misinformation and disinformation when it matters the most."

Here are the steps you can take right now to safeguard your data and devices: 

  • Make sure your electronics are backed up on a regular basis;
  • Scan important paperwork, documents and sentimental items such as photos into a digital format. You can do this by using a scanner, a handheld camera or with an app on your mobile device;
  • Once your key information has been saved digitally, back up your data and files to an external hard drive, USB drive or a cloud-based server; and
  • Take physical steps to prepare your devices ahead of time:
  • Make sure you keep all of your electronics charged up, so you’re ready to go prior to any type of emergency; 
  • If you’re in an area prone to flooding, elevate your electronic devices to a high and dry place, away from windows;
  • Unplug them to protect them from power outages and lightning strikes; and
  • In the event of power outages, have a portable charger ready to recharge your devices.

“One more area to watch out for when it comes to putting your digital preparedness kit together is cybersecurity. Phishing and other scams can increase after a disaster,” said Chief Information Security Officer of the Commonwealth Michael Watson. “That’s why it’s so important to access only known websites and social media accounts, such as those of VDEM and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, when you’re looking for updates and information. You’ll also need to maintain the security of your back-up systems. Make sure you choose a tool with strong security features such as data encryption, password protection and secure datacenters. These are all great ways to thwart bad actors and hackers who want to take advantage of the chaos that happens around a disaster.”

You can find more preparedness tips on the VITA and VDEM websites. 


About the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)
VITA is the commonwealth's consolidated technology services and solutions provider responsible for the operation of the state's technology infrastructure, governance, security and oversight of major IT projects, and procurement of technology-related goods and services on behalf of state and local governments.


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