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More than 100 Harford sites connected to high speed data network, more to come

Harford County's new high speed, fiber optic system, called H-Man, will be linked to additional government buildings, libraries and schools.
Harford County's new high speed, fiber optic system, called H-Man, will be linked to additional government buildings, libraries and schools. (AEGIS FILE / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Harford County Board of Estimates approved spending half a million dollars more on construction and engineering for the Harford Metro Area Network Tuesday, as more sites are added to the high speed fiber optic network.

"What we're doing is, we're continuing to add more sites," Ted Pibil, director of the Office of Information and Communication Technology, told board members at their meeting Tuesday.

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Pibil said 108 sites around Harford County have been added to the network since it went live in spring 2014.

Those sites include schools, libraries, volunteer fire companies, county and public school administration buildings, Harford County Transit, police departments in Bel Air and Havre de Grace, as well as county and municipal water and sewer facilities and the county's backup 911 center, according to a list provided by Cindy Mumby, the county government spokesperson.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of a $400,000 change order to a construction contract with KCI Construction Services LLC, of Hanover.

County Council President Richard Slutzky, who represents the council on the estimates board, was absent Tuesday.

KCI will extend the network along Industry Lane in Forest Hill, under the CSX rail line near Aberdeen and to the Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company and Fallston High School, according to bid documents.

With the change order, the total contract cost increases from $10.6 million to $11.01 million.

Mumby said the connection running under the rail line will bring HMAN to Aberdeen High School, the University Center and City of Aberdeen facilities.

The engineering needed to add those sites will cost an additional $100,000. The engineering contract with KCI will increase to $1.2 million, according to bid documents.

The board also voted 6-0 in favor of the change order.

Pibil noted workers will have to drill deep under the rail line to run the HMAN connection to Aberdeen to avoid affecting train service.

"We're going to have to bring in some special drilling equipment to go under the track," he said.

Pibil presented four more technology-related contracts to the board, which were all approved 6-0.

The first was a one-year, $87,820 contract with Level 3 Communications LLC, of Broomfield, Colo., to provide "dedicated Internet access" for the county.

"This is our connection to the outside world," Pibil said.

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The board then approved a one-year $425,000 contract with Verizon Maryland LLC, of Dallas, Texas, to provide "central office exchange" telephone service for county agencies.

Josh Schueler, an independent contractor who has been working for the county since 2012, received a one-year contract extension Tuesday.

Schueler was hired in June 2012 on a $70,000 one-year contract to manage implementation of a records management system for the volunteer fire and EMS companies.

He has remained on board since then as a liaison between the county government and the fire and EMS companies as a project manager for the long-term implementation of the records system as well as completing HMAN construction and network connections for the fire companies.

"He will be helping us with the cut-overs to HMAN," Pibil said of Schueler.

Schueler's latest contract is for $84,000, according to bid documents.

The final item presented by Pibil involved a $390,000 one-year contract with Verizon Wireless, of Lehigh Valley, Pa., for maintenance and voice and data services for up to 600 cell phones for county employees.

"This covers all the cell phones throughout the county," Pibil said.

Board member Warren Hamilton, the County Council's appointee, questioned spending $650 per phone.

"So $650 a cell phone is a good deal, huh?" Hamilton asked.

Public Works Director Tim Whittie, an estimates board member, clarified that the county is paying $650 per phone over one year, or slightly more than $50 per month, which he called "pretty cheap."

Director of Administration Billy Boniface, who was chairing the meeting, said the county administration analyzed use of cell phones when it took over in December "to see if there was any opportunity for savings."

"We [determined] we're pretty good where we are," he said.

The board also approved, 6-0, a $216,000 one-year contract with Verizon to continue to provide a Public Safety Wide Area Network, which allows the Harford County Sheriff's Office, the Emergency Operations Center and municipal agencies to share data, and a one-year $74,348 contract with Motorola, of Schaumburg, Ill., to provide annual maintenance for wireless emergency radios.

Those radios are connected to the Central Maryland Area Radio Communications system, which brings together emergency agencies in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, along with the cities of Annapolis and Baltimore.

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