Providence city email system down for multiple days; cause unknown

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Providence’s email system was out of commission for a third business day on Thursday, with government employees from City Hall to the police department impacted by the network outage.

Email access started returning intermittently at the end of the day Thursday. City employees had been unable to access their emails and other municipal systems since midday Tuesday.

“Over the last several days, the city has experienced network issues that affected our email communications as well as billing and payment capabilities,” said Ben Smith, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza on Thursday. “Our IT team is working quickly to restore these services as soon as possible.”

The ability to pay taxes online was restored Thursday afternoon.

There was no immediate word on a cause of the issue, but Smith said “there is no evidence of ransomware being installed.”

The outage caused a meeting of the City Council Finance Committee to be canceled on Wednesday, as materials were unable to be circulated.

The Providence Police Department was also affected by the outage. In addition to no access to email, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said the mobile terminals in police vehicles stopped working.

However, Paré described the situation as more of a nuisance than a serious concern, since the city’s computerized dispatch system is still up and running.

“The officers don’t have remote access, but they do have the old fashioned way to call into dispatch,” he said. “We had an alternative system before mobile systems, that is calling on police radio to our dispatch.”

“It’s certainly not efficient for us administratively,” he added. “We rely on technology and sometimes we have hiccups.”

He said the services were returning late Thursday afternoon.

The Providence Public School District is on a separate email server and not affected by the outage.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook

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Providence

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