Update for January 29, 2015

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Wi-Fi to connect all city departments

By William Hoover
Anvil Herald Correspondent

Setting the stage for a technological leap, Hondo City Council on Monday authorized City Manager Jeff Litchfield to enter into a contract with Alamo Consulting to create a wireless mesh infrastructure system to upgrade the city’s computer network. The approximately $70,000 system, part of the $200,000 in technology upgrades approved by council last July, will allow wireless internet communications between all departments in the city.

The upgrades will connect all city departments back to City Hall wirelessly via a new city-wide antenna network, eliminate the need for cabling within the departments, increase the speed of the city’s internet, and free the city from paying multiple internet provider fees.

“This system is the backbone phase of the IT (Information Technology) infrastructure project that we have previously discussed,” said Computer Service Technician/Network Administrator Josh Rodriguez. “Upon authorization, we anticipate it will take 90 days for completion of this stage of the project.”

Mayor Jim Danner asked staff to refresh council’s memory regarding the dollar amount of the technology upgrades authorized last year and give him an idea when the contractor would be underway with the project.

“It was $175,000 plus the $25,000 we had set aside from the court fees, so the total is $200,000,” said Litchfield. “The reason we have to come back to council is the amount is above $40,000. Anything over $40,000 requires council approval.”

“They are ready to begin as early as tomorrow,” said Rodriguez.

“The consultants have been working with our Public Works because they are going to have to put down some concrete pads to be able to put the antennas on,” Litchfield told council.

“Where will you put down these pads and how many will there be?” asked District 4 Councilwoman Ann-Michelle Long.

“This project includes the possibility of up to 12 towers which are 30 feet in height,” said Rodriguez. “They would be installed at every department. Three separate antennas would also be located on the police department tower, because we are bringing the main internet pipeline into city hall. The three antennas give us a 360-degree area of coverage in the city.”

“Every department we have will have a roof antenna?” asked Long.

“The 30-foot towers would be self-standing at almost every department,” explained Rodriguez. “We are going to consolidate the Code Compliance with the Collection Station, because they are located so close to each other.”

“This will also allow us to have wireless connectivity throughout the city for our city employees,” said Litchfield. “This mesh overlay will also link the police department. We are starting some of those upgrades this Thursday (Jan. 29).”

“Keep in mind this will reduce our monthly internet bill because we won’t have 17 different DSL accounts anymore,” said Rodriguez. “We will just have one consolidated bill coming to City Hall.”

In response to a question from Long, Rodriguez said savings from the upgrades would amount to between $50,000 and $80,000 annually.

“There are no monthly costs to every department,” he said. “Each DSL had a monthly cost. So after so many years, the return on this investment will grow even more.”

“This will give us much faster internet speeds too, so we are excited,” said Litchfield.

Council voted 3-0 to unanimously authorize Litchfield to enter into a $69,880 contract with Alamo Consulting for installation of the system.



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