Olsson Associates

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Olsson creates partnerships, cost savings for centralized fiber connectivity

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Angie Przybylo, Marketing

The primary objective of centralizing a local area network (LAN) is to create technology, staff, and financial efficiencies. To illustrate this model, let’s take a look at the Park Hill School District in Kansas City. The district consists of schools in the cities of Riverside, Parkville, and Kansas City and in Platte County, Missouri. This district faced the challenge of increasing technological capacity without more staff or financial resources. Three years ago, the school district maintained 17 different LANs across its 15 educational and two administrative facilities, each with its own wide area network (WAN) connection. The WAN connections weren’t capable of supporting additional the growth required.

 An analysis of the existing technology infrastructure made it apparent that the currently available WAN speeds and increasing support requirements were obstructing growth. The school district’s technology support office was located on the edge of district boundaries, causing the technicians’ time to be wasted on the road. The proposed answer was centralized communications or essentially turning all of those separate networks into one local network. Centralizing the IT office would reduce staff members’ driving time to different sites, increasing network efficiencies while also providing remote access so employees could work more comfortably from home after hours.

 The Park Hill School District received an E-rate fund to build out a private fiber network. In order to accomplish this, they needed to pursue costly easement acquisition along with permitting of the right-of-way. Olsson Associates came up with a solution—a partnership between Park Hill School District and the City of Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) to share infrastructure. This win-win situation allowed Park Hill to share their infrastructure with KCMO while the city provided Park Hill their public right-of-way. Olsson initiated a multi-agency coordination meeting between Park Hill, KCMO, and more than 20 representatives from additional agencies. Many of the meeting attendees found a mutual benefit in sharing the infrastructure. The proposed approach was to provide KCMO access to expanded infrastructure including conduit and fiber located within the school district’s boundaries; in exchange, construction permit fees were waived, and the school district was provided access to existing KCMO’s fiber optic infrastructure. The arrangement will allow KCMO access to additional city and public safety facilities in the area. Park Hill agreed that as they construct, they would fill in a number of gaps in the existing KCMO conduit system. This agreement was ultimately accepted by both parties and construction is nearing completion.

Since its inception, the Park Hill School District’s centralized network has allowed the IT department to increase reliability of the network and responsiveness in technology operations. For example, video on demand is being delivered to 17 facilities through the use of one new server. Previously, this initiative would have required a partial upgrade to WAN connectivity and 17 new servers, which would have made the entire initiative cost-prohibitive.

In addition, the students and staff can now access district applications remotely through the use of a high-speed connection at home or at a public library, thereby allowing the district to maximize its investment in software applications.

Both entities could join forces again on mutually beneficial infrastructure improvement projects, and this initial effort may become a model for other municipalities and school districts in the region.     

Park Hill expects to start seeing savings on WAN connections after a two-and-a-half-year period. After including the cost of constructing a data center, the district was able to forecast a savings of approximately $670,600 over ten years.

Olsson provided multi-agency coordination, fiber and network design, and construction oversight for this project.

If you would like to discuss how Olsson can help centralize your fiber, please contact the following:

Dave Hoelzel at 914.381.1170 or dhoelzel@olssonassociates.com
Steve Ingracia at 402.458.5943 or singracia@olssonassociates.com

 

 

 

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