City invests in faster, more reliable network

The city of Elk River is embarking on a project to connect 90 percent of its government buildings with a fiber optic network. By investing in a fiber optic network the city will save money, improve operations and create opportunities for further collaboration with other governmental organizations, according to city officials. The eight-mile ring, which includes overhead and underground fiber cables, will only be for government use for interconnectivity between city, county and utilities facilities.

This fiber network is a way to tie together diverse networks over wide areas and is not bothered by distance, weather or electrical interference. If you think of the network speed in miles per hour (mph), right now the city and its off-site facilities are working at 1 mph and this fiber optic network will bring that speed up to 1,000 mph. Some of the immediate benefits will be:

•Elimination of approximately $600 monthly operating expenses

•Ability to utilize local software at off-campus locations

•Eliminate poor phone voice quality problems at off-campus locations

•Ability to provide faster Internet speeds to remote locations

•Ability for off-campus locations to take Web training

•Ability for wireless data points for police and fire

•Remote monitoring of sanitary sewer lift stations, wells, water towers and electrical substations

The city of Elk River staff prepared plans and advertised the Fiber Optic Ring Project.  Two construction bids were received and the Michels Corp. bid was accepted for a total of $268,721. This shared partnership with the city, Sherburne County and Elk River Municipal Utilities will help to fund the project. The city funding will come from the Liquor Operations Fund and Wastewater Treatment Enterprise Funds.