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Urban Mining looks to leverage Jacksonville’s growing fintech economy (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) — Steve Kaufman can hardly believe he has lived in Jacksonville for 25 years. The serial entrepreneur has witnessed the development of Northeast Florida’s tech culture over that time and is enthused by the way fintech and health care companies are driving development in the region.

The CEO of Urban Mining looks to double the number of assets his electronics recycling company processes, recycles or restores to more than 10,000 per month in the next two years.

“As technology is evolving, it’s created significant risk – and for businesses like ours, great opportunities, disruptive opportunities,” Kaufman said. “Threat vectors are shifting. You have the internet of things, you have people working in their homes, people working in their offices, a blending of personal equipment and business equipment, you have edge computing. All of this is causing the threat vectors to shift and create a lot more exposure for clients or potential clients.”

As computers transition from using hard disk drives to solid-state drives to store data, it highlights the need for having methods to destroy the drives once they are no longer useful and remove any sensitive or proprietary data stored on them.

Kaufman said the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that have been in place in the European Union since 2018 are stronger than the data protection laws currently in place at the federal and state level as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines for media sanitization that were first issued in 2014. Kaufman has found that fintech firms are closer to adhering to the European standard largely because they have clients there. However, there are steps other businesses can take to protect their data as their equipment approaches the end of its life cycle.

“First, start with looking at what’s happening with your equipment from the very beginning of its use within your organization, all the way until the end,” Kaufman said. “The other (suggestion) is I would only work with certified companies that have 100% transparency in the way they operate and what they do.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection does not place requirements for how businesses recycle electronics, but it does recommend using recyclers that have third-party certification.

State and federal recommendations on electronics recyclers encourage businesses to investigate what type of insurance facilities have, ask where the scrap winds up and inquire how recyclers ensure data is destroyed.

Urban Mining is a member of the National Association for Information Destruction – which is under the International Secure Information Governance and Management Association (i-SIGMA). In short, those trade organizations encourage best practices within the data destruction industry. Kaufman claims his company destroys both solid-state drives and hard disk drives to 1/32nd of an inch.

The company primarily serves the insurance, health care, education and financial services sectors; however, it’s the latter that has been the catalyst for Urban Mining’s growth over the last year. CSX Corp., FIS, Black Knight, Inc., and Duval County Public Schools are among the entities that trust Urban Mining to recycle their equipment.

Urban Mining has two locations, but its primary facility is an 18,000-square-foot property in Jacksonville’s Spring Park neighborhood that has 20 employees. The company’s Lauderdale Lakes location has five employees operating in an 8,000-square-foot facility.

“One of my biggest hopes and dreams is that we continue to find partners like a FIS, or CSX, that need our premium service and are as committed to the community as us,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman challenged the City of Jacksonville to make the same commitment to recycling its information technology like the community’s business leaders have for years. 

“Secure data destruction…is the single, most important element of what we do,” Kaufman said. “…It’s a silly place to try and save $5 because of liability.”

Photo courtesy of The Coastal