By David R. Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed led a delegation of 33 people from Georgia to the CyberTech International Conference & Exhibition in Tel Aviv in March.

The Georgia group, organized by Conexx, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the state Department of Economic Development, was the largest group among the 8,000 participants at the conference.

The 2015 Georgia CyberTech Mission was in Israel from March 21 to 27 and included representatives from AT&T, IBM, Delta Air Lines and Georgia State University. The group explored options for increasing cybersecurity and establishing business ties with Israeli companies and paid a visit to Atlanta’s Israeli sister city, Ra’anana.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says Ra’anana Mayor Ze’ev Bielski is terrific.

Reed talked to the Atlanta Jewish Times about the mission.

AJT: How was your trip to Israel?

Reed: It was amazing, I always leave Israel renewed, and I felt the same way after this trip. What is going on in the cyber technology sector there is one of the most amazing stories in the global economy. Israel has about 250 startups in the technology sector each year, largely driven by the experience that young Israelis get serving in the military. So you have highly talented young people serve their two-year commitment, and they are exposed to state-of-the-art, groundbreaking technology. Many of these individuals are then helping to fuel a technology sector that’s one of the most impressive in the world.

AJT: Are there any technologies you saw that you would like to bring back to Atlanta?

Reed: I’m considering having some of the firms in Israel help us develop an app for our Atlanta streetcar fare system. I’ve made the fare free through 2015 so that we can have a state-of-the-art fare system in the city of Atlanta.

AJT: Is there a need for increased cyber security in Atlanta?

Reed: There’s a need for increased cyber security in Atlanta and in every developed economy in the world. The estimates are that 50 million people wake up every day to engage in some type of cyber-related criminal activity. That means that cyber interruptions are going to become more and more a part of our everyday life. I think that places like Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva are really going to be on the front lines in partnership with terrific universities here like Georgia Tech in leading the fight against cyber crime.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Ra’anana Mayor Ze’ev Bielski (right) with Arnold Heller (center), who heads the sister city committee for Atlanta and Ra’anana.

AJT: Did this mission help strengthen ties between Georgia and Israel?

Reed: I think the trip certainly did. First of all, Georgia is No. 3 in the United States in terms of cyber-related business. To develop the relationship between Georgia’s cyber technology community, in addition to the fact that Georgia handles about 70 percent of all payment transactions that occur in the world, I think is a strong first step just because of the talent that exists in both communities. I couldn’t be more excited about the trip and feel like it was time well spent.

AJT: Favorite place to visit in Israel?

Reed: Of course it was Jerusalem. No matter how special any other part of Israel is, as a Christian going to Jerusalem and seeing where Christ was crucified is always the most special part of my trips to Israel. It was also nice to go to the Negev region for the first time. I also visited Ra’anana, which has had a sister city relationship with the city of Atlanta for more than 20 years, and they have a terrific mayor there.