CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah (Reuters) - A $1.5 billion dollar National Security Agency data center under construction in Utah will be an important step in dealing with rising volumes of information in cyberspace, officials said on Thursday.
The NSA will utilize the massive facility, which will be built under direction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to gather and process information from different branches of the U.S. intelligence operations.
"It's a very important step in protecting the interests of our country. Banking, financial interests, Internet and national security. This is an important step forward in all of those," U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch told Reuters at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Data Center.
Officials tout the data center mission as providing technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, provide intelligence and warning to cyber threats and carry out cyber-security objectives.
"Just as we defend our lands, America also needs to defend cyberspace," Hatch said. "The Data Center will be part of our expanding efforts to defend our Department of Defense computer systems from cyber attack, and will play key role in helping Homeland Security keep our government's civilian computer systems safe."
The new center will be built on a 240-acre site within the Camp Williams military compound. When completed in 2013 it will provide 100,000 square feet of computer space and one million square feet of total space.
The Utah site was picked over 37 other potential sites.
Hatch pointed to Utah's higher education institutions, language facilities and the large number of people who speak multiple languages as selling points.
Officials estimate that up to 10,000 people will be employed in construction and development of the data center. Upon completion 100-200 people will be permanently employed at the center.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan