Things are starting to move a little faster inside City Hall thanks to a switch made to fiber optic service and an overhaul of the City’s computer network.

“We’ve been working out the details for this IT Upgrade for months,” said Mayor Mike Bawden. “But it wasn’t until we had completed a diagnostic review of the City’s network that we realized how urgently we needed to address this issue.”

That review showed the computer network and workstations at City Hall were out-dated and in need of re-configuration. The plan, developed with the help of IT consultancy, Twin State Tech Services, included the purchase and installation of a new server; new data back-up protocols; better utilization of the City’s digital archival system (LaserFiche); new workstations for the mayor and deputy clerk as well as a third, auxiliary workstation which will be used by the City’s maintenance person (as well as others); VPN access points for the mayor, city administrator and BFA (the accounting firm retained by the City); encrypted laptops for members of the City Council so they can work and correspond from home; and a switch to broadband, fiber optic service.

The upgrade was one of the projects identified as a priority by the City Council and will be paid for with funds from the General Fund Surplus. On-going maintenance costs and a replacement cost accrual will be part of the City’s operating budget going forward.

“This is an important first step,” explained the mayor. “We still need to finish evaluating the state of the computers in the fire department which, honestly, look to be about as out-of-date as those in our administrative offices. As we add new technology, like the Knox Boxes we just authorized purchasing and the new radios provided by the county, we have to make sure our computers are able to talk to them and make our department more efficient.”

A second phase, technology upgrade will be developed for review by the City Council later this year. That upgrade will likely include necessary modifications to the fire department’s computer network and installing a video projection system in the Community Room.