The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.
The Henry B Gonzales Convention Center facilities include four exhibit halls with over 440,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, three ballrooms and a 2,300 seat theater with a recently updated sound system. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.

Convening, collaborating and capitalizing. Those are the buzzwords orbiting CyberTexas, an event that brought together more than 460 academics, private and public sector professionals, and military personnel from around San Antonio, the state and elsewhere to discuss cybersecurity.

The conference opened Thursday morning and continues through Friday afternoon at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. CyberTexas is an umbrella organization. Joe Sanchez, an advisory board member for CyberTexas, coined the aforementioned buzzwords to kick off the first-of-its-kind conference in San Antonio.

Sanchez said CyberTexas is based on a similar conference held in Maryland, home to the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade and the acknowledged center of the cybersecurity universe.

Joe Sanchez
Joe Sanchez

“Texas always has to do something bigger and better,” Sanchez said.

Delivering his opening remarks to an audience of more than 100 people in opening remarks, Sanchez lauded the presence of local educators and students, such as those from Holmes High School and the University of Texas at San Antonio who are specializing in cybersecurity training. A team from UTSA will compete this weekend in the annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Championship at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk.

He said expanding local educational programs, along with the presence of two U.S. Air Force agencies that focus on cybersecurity, and several thriving local companies in the same industry bolster each other and, by extension, San Antonio’s standing as a growing cybersecurity hub.

“It’s about coming together,” said Sanchez. “My heart is with these kids, making sure they learn something new. Maybe they haven’t realized computer science or information technology as a career.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor delivered brief remarks. Public discourse about infrastructure mostly involves things such as public transportation and utilities, she said. Perhaps the most important aspect of infrastructure seldom discussed in public is cybersecurity architecture.

Just about everything in life, business and civilization in general are becoming more interconnected by computers and other forms of information technology, the mayor said. Success depends on system security.

District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, right before the meeting that confirmed her as mayor of San Antonio. Photo by Scott Ball.
Mayor Ivy Taylor. Photo by Scott Ball.

“What the cybersecurity industry does is of the utmost importance, not only to our economy but for the safety and security of our nation,” Taylor added.

Taylor applauded CyberTexas’ efforts to enhance access to cybersecurity developments and resources statewide, and to provide a platform for education and skill development for cybersecurity professionals. She also praised the umbrella organization for fostering working relationships among interrelated businesses, government groups, the military and academia, and for showcasing the state’s cybersecurity assets.

Hosting an event such as CyberTexas also gives San Antonio the opportunity to highlight its particular strengths in the industry, the mayor said.

“In many ways, we’re a city that consistently leads in innovation and transformation,” she said, referring back to when the military first set its foot in San Antonio more than 100 years ago. That move, Taylor said, resulted in San Antonio being among the first locales in the nation military flight training.

“San Antonio is home to the second largest concentration of data centers in the country,” the mayor said, referring to such companies and organizations as Rackspace, Microsoft, and CyrusOne , as well as the National Security Agency (NSA).

Taylor said San Antonio is also home to “a vibrant technology startup scene,” which combined with the 24th Air Force and 25th Air Force, the NSA, “top colleges and universities” the city’s cybersecurity and information technology sectors continue to thrive.

Many local cybersecurity companies and organizations are being represented in various ways during the two-day CyberTexas conference, including Digital Defense, SecureLogix, TrueAbility, InfoCyte, FlashScan3D, SASTEMIC, a group raising awareness of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education in primary school, and the Southwest Research Institute.

*Featured/top image: (File photo) The Henry B Gonzales Convention Center. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.

Related Stories:

San Antonio to Host First-Ever CyberTexas Meeting

Why I Quit Cybersecurity in San Antonio and Moved to San Francisco

Hurd Sees Cybersecurity Creating a Smarter City

Hurd To Talk Cybersecurity at SouthSA Chamber Event

Cybersecurity: San Antonio’s Not-So-Secret Opportunity

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.