Network upgrade speeds city’s Web access
Last year, Gahanna, Ohio, officials started a project to extend high-speed, fiber-rich technology to critical points throughout the community. To date, Project Crystal Vision has connected four schools, one school administration building, two city government offices and four township buildings in a local optical network. The city invested in the network to enhance education, public safety, facility security and the local economy.
Last year, the city began considering network construction as a means of providing Internet access to government buildings and remote sites. At first, it considered building a T1/router-based IP network similar to the one used by the Gahanna-Jefferson school system. However, the city found that network would be expensive to install, and the city would have to pay $500 to $700 per month per site to the local telephone company for use of the network.
Alternatively, the city discovered that an optical network would have no monthly costs, and it would provide faster Internet access than T1 lines. The city also could test and maintain the optical network at any time. (The city required assistance from the telephone company to test or maintain the router-based network.)
In September, the city partnered with Columbus, Ohio-based Applied Innovation to replace the school system’s existing T1-based network connections with an optical Ethernet network and to deploy the same network for the city. The optical metro network operates at a speed equivalent to 61 T1 connections, and it resists interruptions.
“Not only is the impact from lightning, water, heat or other weather conditions significantly reduced or eliminated, but the network’s fiber ring architecture gives it the ability to fix itself if problems do occur,” says David Lee, director of network operations for the city. “That level of reliability allows us to consider uses for this network that we might not have considered previously.”
The city integrated secure wireless access points into the optical network, so police, fire and emergency personnel can have mobile wireless network access to database information, traffic signals and warning systems. Ultimately, city police cars will be equipped with wireless laptops, which will allow officers to access a central computer system, thus reducing the workload of emergency dispatchers. Also, officers will be able to submit police reports directly from their cars.
Gahanna is expanding the network to include city plants, sewage pump stations, water towers, industrial parks and other key locations to improve service efficiency and security. The technology will allow service and safety departments to monitor centralized databases that manage key card access points. The city plans to incorporate remote video transport and other bandwidth-intense applications to allow the delivery of video, data and other services to monitoring stations, personnel in remote locations and, in certain cases, mobile vehicles.
Finally, the fiber optic network will support Gahanna’s economic development. “Gahanna will be more competitive in the telecommunications market,” Lee says. “This new network infrastructure will play a major role in the city’s future by offering more consumer choices and quality network access to technology driven industries.”