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Harford County Unveils Countywide Broadband Network (HMAN)

On May 22, Harford County, Maryland held a press conference to announce its high-speed fiber optic based network, which will connect government buildings, schools, and libraries while reducing costs. The fiber optic cable, known as HMAN, or Harford Metro Area Network will allow greater broadband access to residents. According to Ted Pilbil, director of the county’s ICT department, the HMAN will “upgrade the county’s computer network and serve as a communications backbone” for Harford.

Since its conceptualization five years ago, HMAN has grown both from the efforts of the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) – a consortium of six Maryland counties – and a federal grant under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).HMAN press conference

As part of the fiber optics solution, Cisco helped guide the County into a design that was within its budget and met all its technical needs. More than 100 miles of fiber optic has connected approximately 100 institutions around the county. The design included a Metro Ethernet solution based on the ASR9K platform, which has allowed the County to replace its expensive leased lines with a wholly owned fiber optic network managed by the county. The network has the ability to add Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DMDW) optical technology to further expand the network capacity by a factor of 40x with additional equipment. Cisco’s flexible design allowed the County to reduce costs while providing high-speed connectivity to local schools, libraries, public safety offices, and economic development zones.

The HMAN has great potential to provide economic opportunities and bring business into Harford County. One such opportunity is the presence of “dark fiber.” In essence, dark fiber is when cables are not activated, which can allow a company to create its own private network. Furthermore, business that could not previously access broadband service from traditional carriers – whether due to location or cost – can now buy into a cost-effective, high-speed network. The data will move faster and with greater reliability and flexibility.

Alongside businesses, city and county government will also be linked on the broadband highway, offering endless possibilities for teleconferencing, data sharing, and video communications. Furthermore, HMAN will open opportunities for additional infrastructure for primary, secondary, and higher education.

By providing high-speed access to video, voice, and data for county organizations and residents, the HMAN will catapult Harford County into a technology center of the future.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series: State/Local Government & the Internet of Everything

There’s an increasing drumbeat of news about the “Internet of Everything” (IoE)— the confluence of people, process, data, and things that makes networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.

IoE comprises the ubiquitous ways that billions of people and numerous devices on the Internet communicate and report on their status and location. This covers everything from the location of your smartphone, to where a package might be, to the rate of your pulse or your arrival on a street corner, to the condition of a highway.

The Internet of Everything isn’t way off in the future. Today, the number of physical devices connected to the Internet is already six times the number of people on the Internet, even though there are 2 billion of those people. By 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices.

These devices will come to dominate the “cloud.” Of course, the complexity of a global system that connects all these devices and people is mind-boggling. This global system has the potential for unpredictable and perhaps disastrous behavior. That alone should get the attention of public leaders.

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