Information Technology Advisory Committee - May 21st, 2020
Meeting held via video-conference.
David Good reports a lot of activity in the town IT department. Some of it's due to the High School and DPW reconstruction. Some has been due to the COVID-19 emergency.
VoIP rollout has been partially delayed due to office closures, and the need to follow new social distancing guidelines. Mr. Good is working on arrangements to allow small numbers of people to work in town buildings while they're empty.
The handset voting system that we use for town meeting won't work outdoors, nor will wireless access be available outside. Town IT has made network improvements to the town hall auditorium; we just won't be able to use them for this year's town meeting.
We've installed new classroom projectors in the Pierce and Bracket schools.
Fiber went into the Parmenter building last week. Conduit will be installed in mid-July.
There's a 40-home pilot for the new water and sewer meters, complete with new receiver equipment. Both sets of receiver data (new and existing) are merged and fed into ICS and Munis.
The Central School renovation is under way. IT is still awaiting a move date for Health and Human Services.
The pre-school has been moved out of the high school. The town is working with contractors to site new fiber lines. One of the circuits should be moved next week.
The renovated DPW building will become the new home for the town IT department. Construction will take place from spring 2021 to fall 2021. Data center renovations will happen at the same time.
80% of town IT staff have been working from home, but this hasn't had much effect on delivery of services. We're adjusting and learning to work better in this environment. Some staff may continue to work at home while the IT department offices are being moved.
GIS is working on some projects for the DPW. They've also done a lot of mapping work to assist the school department with kindergarten registration. Currently, 517 kids have registered to start kindergarten in the fall. The school department is trying to figure out how kindergarten orientation will work this fall. Orientation usually involves a lot of face-to-face meeting between parents and teachers, and that may not be an option.
Mr. Good summarizes some of the work the town IT department has done in response to the COVID-19 emergency. 50 new VPN accounts were set up for town employees, and 60 laptops were issued so that town staff could work from home. We've increased the bandwidth of the town's network circuits and distributed 1,100 Chromebooks to Arlington school students.
Most students have broadband at home, and the town's provided mobile hotspots to families without adequate internet access. School principals are the main point of contact for student equipment needs.
We've adopted Zoom as a video-conference platform for committee and board meetings (but not for remote learning in public schools).
We're researching content filtering tools for student laptops.
VoIP has made it much simpler to forward town phone numbers.
Parents are using the power school portal much more.
The town is auditing the equipment and software used for remote access. Some of this might qualify for a CARES act reimbursement.
Eric Helmuth compliments Julie Wayman (in the town Manager's office) for helping to run Zoom meetings for the Community Preservation Act Committee. Remote meetings are a different environment, but they've gone smoothly.
Finally, we've started to look at distance-learning tools for kids. Ultimately, the school department will need two plans for the fall. One for in-school learning and one for remote learning. It depends on what the public health emergency looks like in the fall.