The first step in a process to upgrade the technological infrastructure at the Washington County Courthouse will be completed next week and county IT director Eric Skomra is looking ahead to the next phase.
Skomra said a new server room will be operational on Tuesday, allowing key components of the courthouse's computer system to be placed together in a climate-controlled area with redundant power. Currently, the system is "a mishmash of old connections" added onto through the years that is very easy to disrupt, he said.
"It's basically a big bunch of spaghetti - and it's not very appetizing," Skomra told county commissioners Thursday.
The next step in the process will be to run fiberoptic cables through the courthouse. The fiber transmits information via pulses of light and "cannot be interrupted by electromagnetic signals from generators, from lights, from other things," Skomra said.
The fiber network "will be the foundation upon which the new server room will be able to be used and any new phone system or security system or any advancements in the computer system will run upon," he said.
Skomra said power fluctuations on Wednesday caused problems with the courthouse computer system, as different pieces were shut off or not restarted in the proper order. As a result, standard functions like Internet and server access were unavailable in some offices throughout the day.
Skomra brought the commissioners a proposal for a Reynoldsburg-based company to install the fiber network through a state contract for approximately $52,000.
Commissioner Tim Irvine asked if there were local companies that could do the work but Skomra said he was unaware of any in Washington County. He noted the project would not consist of simply running cables but also designing the basis of a system that will last 20 to 30 years while maintaining the aesthetic aspects of the courthouse.
Commissioner Cora Marshall said there are some companies based elsewhere in the state that employ people in the region and might be able to do the work.
After a brief discussion, the commissioners voted to put the project out for bid.
"I would not want a local company to not get an opportunity for this business," Irvine said.
Skomra said the next step would be installing upgraded switches that help regulate and transmit data between computers. Eventually, that will allow for new technology, an updated phone system and an improved security system to be installed, he said.