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County makes wireless leap with new fire station

McDuffie County's new Fire Station One presented officials with a few problems for information technology connectivity.

But what they didn't know is that solving those problems for the station - which is currently under construction - would help move the entire county government years ahead, technologically speaking.

The county's Information Technology Director Kelly Evans asked for, and received approval from, commissioners to use sales tax money earmarked for technology improvements to wirelessly connect the fire station to the Law Enforcement Center and IT department.

"We just leapfrogged," Mrs. Evans said of the county's technology setup as a result of the impending wireless connection. "We went from being behind to being ahead."

The problems arose when Mrs. Evans found there were no poles on which to hang fiber optic cables to connect the sites. Plus, wireless connections were on the horizon due to a telemetry measurement system (SCADA) that the county and City of Thomson are planning to implement in the coming years.

Currently, Mrs. Evans is researching the most efficient way to relay the signal from site to site.

The original plan called for an access point on the water tank along the Augusta Highway, but with other communications equipment already located there, she is exploring all options.

The project will cost about $64,000, but Mrs. Evans said since it is the first step in a larger project, it would not only save the county money now, but in the long haul as well.

It also begins to give the county multiple paths and types of connectivity in case one should go down, a system called "mesh," which Columbia County began installing just six months ago.

"Medium sized communities are doing mesh right now: Savannah, Valdosta, Augusta," Mrs. Evans said. "...To be able to do it as part of a bigger project, it makes good fiscal sense, but it also takes advantage of what we're doing. We're able to say we're sitting out there, not on the cutting edge, but we're heading in the same direction as communities that are larger than us."

Mrs. Evans also said she would forward information on the newest technology improvements to the One Georgia Authority, which is currently reviewing a grant application that would help pay for implementation of the county's wireless system.



Web posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007













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