INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: METROPOLITAN AREA NETWORK

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: METROPOLITAN AREA NETWORK
Problem Identification:
There is no common network infrastructure providing connectivity across City departments. Individual departments have developed local area networks and wide area networks to serve their individual needs, but there are few connections between these networks and, as a result, no effective links for moving data and information. A well-designed network infrastructure is a prerequisite for implementing technologies necessary to move the City forward.

Recommended Action:
Complete implementation of the Metropolitan Area Network backbone to provide core network services and connectivity to all City departments.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
Citywide

Estimated Annual Impact:
Cannot be Estimated

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Not Determined

Barriers to Implementation:
Lack of empowered CIO to spearhead this development project; lack of network standards; and a Municipal Telephone Exchange independent of the City’s IT infrastructure providing inadequate service levels in the procurement of communications services.

Projected Implementation:
1 – 2 years

Next Steps:
Commission a comprehensive network analysis and requirements study to assess current technology, develop architecture, and evaluate annual financial impact, assess current network staffing levels and develop project staffing plan, and identify outsourcing opportunities

Analysis:
Computer networks are as essential to providing services to City residents such as telephone networks, electrical power grids, and water and waste water systems. Unlike these other services, however, the City government’s approach to computer networking has been scattered and lacking direction. Many individual departments have implemented networks that serve the specific mission of that department, but these networks do not realize the potential for sharing information and applications across departments. The end results of this lack of direction include:

– Users in HCD have two terminals on their desks; one to access HCD data, the other to access systems managed by the Bureau of Information Technology Services because the two networks are not connected.

– E-mail between departments is transported across the Internet with a resultant lack of security and the inefficiency of paying for multiple dial-up service providers.

– There are multiple Internet connections in departments. Every connection provides the opportunity for hackers to break into City networks and jeopardize data. A single, high-capacity, secure Internet connection should be a service provided on a centralized network.

– A Citywide e-mail system cannot be developed.

– Applications, such as GIS or a unified help desk system, cannot be implemented.

– Duplication of effort for maintenance of all of the local networks is pervasive. A well designed, manageable network can be centrally monitored allowing problems to be detected before they cause major outages while improving the service level to all network users.

– Miles of fiber optic cable have been installed around the City, but ownership of these cables is neither centralized nor coordinated. Many cables have been installed with no apparent purpose.

Construction of an effective wide area network is complex and costly, but is a necessary investment in infrastructure to implement the kind of technologies that will allow departments to streamline operations and improve services.

This recommendation transcends the five studied departments and should apply to all City departments.