The Carroll County Public Network was officially formed in 2004 when Carroll County Government, Carroll County Public Schools, Carroll Community College and Carroll County Public Library signed a memorandum of understanding that created a consortium. The membership of the CCPN Committee is made up of staff from the information technology departments of the four organizations.
Beginning in 2005, the CCPN managed the design, construction, maintenance and management of the countywide fiber optic network, which now consists of approximately 160 miles of county-owned fiber and associated technology that connects 120 government, school, library, municipality, first responder and community college sites. The network provides high-speed circuits that expand services and meet the future needs of Carroll County citizens. In addition, the network was designed and built with substantial capacity to allow for the use of this fiber to support business and economic development.
The benefits of the fiber network are far-reaching and affect all residents of Carroll County. Here are a few examples of how the network has helped CCPN partners realize new efficiencies and cost savings.
CCPS is now able to offer students the opportunity to attend classes at another school in the county without leaving their home school. Higher level classes that may only have a few interested students from around the county can now be offered via videoconference. The fiber has brought data speed equality to all schools so that access to various online instructional experiences, including interactive video conferencing, can provide as close to an in-classroom experience as possible.
The Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the courts are now arraigning prisoners via video. By using video teleconferencing, the officers no longer need to transport prisoners from the Carroll County Detention Center to the courthouse. This saves time and money for the sheriff's office, and is potentially much safer for the officers and those who are in the courtroom.
A big benefit of the fiber is one that we hope is not regularly necessary. When the library headquarters was relocated to the old New Windsor Middle School in 2008, a state-of-the-art data center was constructed with the capacity to act as a business continuity/disaster recovery site for the CCPN partners. The library provides space for the backup data and voice systems of the schools, community college and government. The partners have saved a lot of money by building this into a local construction project and maintaining the backup site and equipment on their own.
The future of the county's fiber network is strong due to the foresight of the CCPN partnership. As the use of the fiber network expands to the business community, so will the expansion of new ideas, cost savings and valued partnerships. At its core, the CCPN was formed to create the fiber network, but it has also helped to formalize and recognize the public partnerships that existed for many years. This partnership is now a nationally recognized model and has set the standard for cooperation between educational institutions and government.
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Bob Kuntz is the IT manager at the Carroll County Public Library and is a member of the Carroll Technology Council. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information about the Carroll Tech Council, please visit its website at http://www.carrolltechcouncil.org or contact Kati Townsley, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-244-1262.