Commissioners Robert Ohl, Larry Kephart, and Miles Kessinger formed the Clinton County MIS Department in 1995. Their vision was to Network all county offices for the purpose of data sharing, user communication, efficient work flow and to eliminate data duplication. The driving force behind this project was the county's commitment to implement a countywide Geographic Information System (GIS). It was envisioned that this system would greatly enhance our Assessment, Planning, Soil Conservation, and Emergency Service Departments.
With,the creation of the MIS Department, the Commissioners needed to hire a Manager to establish this new department and meet the goals set forth by the commissioners. In March of 1995 they approved the hiring of Suzy L. (Smith) Watson and tasked her with the creation of the county network. Suzy's expertise lied in all aspects of the IBM AS/400, including application development and system analysis and design.
At the time of Suzy's hiring, the county had nothing that qualified as a true infrastructure. There were numerous small, non-connected LANs using different Network Operating Systems (NOS) and two IBM AS/400's using dumb terminals connected via twinaxial cable.
With the forthcoming GIS system, in addition to the natural increase in the dependency on computing technology, it was vital that the County establish an infrastructure. The following describe the steps taken when developing the county's network.
Establish an Information Infrastructure With Adequate Bandwidth
Bids were awarded to wire the Courthouse, Garden Building, Communication Center, Clinton County Prison, Soil Conservation District, and Clinton County Economic Partnership with Category 5 cable. A fiber backbone was installed between floors in the Courthouse.
Williamsport Electric was awarded the bid to hang dedicated, County owned fiber between the Communication Center and Courthouse, the Courthouse and Garden Building, the Garden Building and Economic Partnership, and the Garden Building, City of Lock Haven and West Branch Technology Center.
As part of a joint effort between Clinton County and West Branch Technology Center, Clinton County will provide fiber connectivity from West Branch Technology Center to Lock Haven University in exchange for training services provided by West Branch. At this time, these entities are using county infrastructure but are not part of the county network.
As part of the Lock Haven Electronic Village project, KCnet has constructed fiber from KCnet to the Garden Building. This will allow for all connected entities to high speed internet access.
Standardization of Network Operation Systems
Standardized Network Operating System (NOS) were necessary to make the management and support of a multi-location network possible. Our NOS choice was Novell Netware version 4.1. With its enhanced Directory Services, Management Capabilities, Performance, Support, and Security Features, NetWare 4.1 was ideally suited for our multi-location, multi-server environment. In 1999 we upgraded our NOS to NetWare 5 and in 2003 added a server at our Soil Conservation Offices running Netware 6.
Phase-out Twinaxial Connections to the AS/400 System
Twinaxial cable no longer provides a modern solution to data communications. To date the majority of twinaxial cable and "dumb terminals" have been replaced with PC's connected via TCP/IP.
Establish Internet Access
Our internet access is granted to employees based on necessity to perform their job duties. We started out with dial up access to KCnet, but have just signed an agreement to be direct connected via fiber. Many of us find that the internet is very valuable tool and keeps us in contact with other local, state and federal government agencies.
Implement Electronic Mail
To enhance communications between departments we implemented a countywide mail system using Novell's GroupWise. GroupWise features advanced electronic mail capabilities (including an internet mail gateway), as well as scheduling, personal calendars, and many other useful features.
Institute County-Wide Virus Detection
McAfee Virus Scan was selected as our virus detection software. It has been successful in detecting and cleaning several viruses that have infiltrated the county's network via internet email. We have never had an network outage due to a virus.
Implement Software License Controls
Clinton County is committed to ensuring all software protected by a copyright is licensed and used for its intended purpose. Each employee signs a wavier agreement holding them responsible for all software loaded on their PC. The MIS department conducts software audits at least once a year to ensure all loaded software is legal.
Implement Centralized Administration and Network Security
For efficient and secure operation of a multi-server, multi-location network, centralized administration is vital. Key network decisions go through one central administrator, thus allowing for consistent, documented, and supportable implementations. This is possible through Novell's NDS.
Establish Backup and Recovery Procedures
A Backup and Recovery plan has been implemented in all areas of the County network. Each server is backed up daily, weekly, and/or monthly to ensure data recovery when necessary. Periodically data recovery tests are performed, including full system restores on each server and AS/400 currently in use. This ensures that any system can be fully restored from back up media.
Implement Systems Redundancy
Redundancy, along with proper backup procedures can work to insure vital data against damage, corruption, and loss. Several phases of redundancy have been implemented. At the server level, RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives) is implemented. Multiple images of the data will be stored, using separate physical drives and separate physical controllers. Additionally, the drives are "hot swappable" meaning that a failed drive can be removed, and a new one installed without server downtime. The County's Courthouse AS/400 also uses RAID technology, while the Communication Center (911) AS/400 uses disk mirroring. With mirroring, each primary drive has an alternate drive dedicated to provide a mirror image of the primary drive. If a disk failure occurs, the failing drive is replaced and then rebuilt from the mirrored drive.
For the County's mission critical 911 AS/400, we have constructed a redundant database on the Courthouse AS/400. Each time a 911 dispatcher enters a record on the 911 AS/400, the record is also transferred within seconds via fiber to the Courthouse AS/400. If the 911 AS/400 system fails, they log on to the Courthouse AS/400 where a redundant 911 database is housed giving them full functionality. In the event that the 911 Center would need to evacuate, the dispatchers move to an alternate site. From this site they can dial into either AS/400 and continue to dispatch, again giving them full functionality.
Clinton County's network has grown over the past five years to include over 200 County nodes. Also joining the network are the Clinton County Economic Partnership and the City of Lock Haven with an additional 32+ nodes. By working together, these three entities are able to share valuable information, eliminate duplication of data, and save taxpayer dollars.
At the Clinton County Prison a separate LAN (Local Area Network) was installed. This provides the prison with inter-departmental connectivity and a centralized Oracle database for prisoner records, including prisoner photos. They also utilize a financial package that is used for prison financials and the prisoner commissary. Connectivity is currently being planned to link the prison to the County network giving them county resources and connectivity to a state wide Justice Network (JNET).
Clinton County also has had a Web Presence since 1995. At the time, only 3 other counties in the state had a web page. We will continue to provide informational web pages and currently have some of the County's GIS and Assessment information online.
With the growing number of users on the network, the MIS staff also had to be increased. In June of 1996, Judy Walter was added to the MIS staff. She brought to the County a wide range of PC and networking skills. 99% of all PC troubleshooting, upgrades, and repairs are done in-house. This saves the County a tremendous amount of money considering that an average consultant call ranges between $60 - $110 per hour plus expenses. Judy is also the network system administrator.
In Decemnber 2010, Daryl Geyer II became part of the Clinton County MIS team. Daryl spends most of his time fielding trouble calls from users, equipment audits and inventory. Daryl is also our Web Site / Web Applications Developer. He also assists both Suzy and Judy when needed.
At Clinton County, we are very proud of our MIS department and fiber network. We have become a model in local government technology with others looking to us for suggestions and solutions. Using technology Clinton County can better serve its residents by providing county commissioners and employees with powerful, decision making tools.
Clinton County MIS Department
232 East Main Street
Lock Haven, PA 17745
(570) 893-4214 Fax
For the hearing impaired, please dial 7-1-1 (PArelay.net)
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