Government Technology

City Hall Fire Brings Tech Upgrade in Michigan




April 4, 2012 By

Bay City, Mich., is using the October 2010 fire that pushed the local government out of its historic City Hall building one Tuesday afternoon as an opportunity to upgrade the building’s infrastructure.

The fire was started accidentally by a roof worker grinding down bolts. The contained fire set off the sprinkler system, which pumped 20,000 gallons of water through the building, much of which wound up in the server room on the ground floor. Bay City will continue to repair water damage during the next seven months, and is using the opportunity to include a $100,000 IT upgrade.

Having the building torn apart already will make the technology upgrades much easier, Bay City IT director Tony Reyes said. “Some of those floors and walls are two feet thick,” Reyes said. “We needed to add a little more infrastructure anyway.”

Previously all computers in the building received network connections via Cat 5 cables that ran from the server room, sometimes through several relay switches, which could drop speeds down to 10 megabits per second, Reyes said. “Now we’re running fiber to each floor and going from the phone closets on those floors out Cat 6 to the PCs,” he said. “So now we’ll have a gigabit all the way to the desktop.”

Upgrading the network was also necessary to accommodate a new VoIP system the city paid for with insurance funding, Reyes said.

Along with a new voice and data backbone, City Hall now is able to complete another project conceived before the fire, Reyes said. The City Commission chambers will receive hardware that enables webcasting of meetings, he said.

Three fixed cameras, eight PCs, a video projector, a 64-inch television for an overflow room, and a control system for the entire rig will allow the commission to broadcast meetings online, replacing a local cable broadcast. For the past six months, the city hasn’t broadcasted meetings and some citizens have noticed and requested that the broadcasting resume, Reyes said.

Some of those same politically-involved citizens don’t agree with the city’s decision to preserve the late-19th-century City Hall building.

Though much of the restoration is covered by insurance funding, some citizens think that restoring the old building is a waste of time and that a new building would have been a faster and cheaper solution, said Dana Muscott, deputy city manager of administrative services and city clerk.

A Historic Building

The restoration will include historically accurate light fixtures, chairs and interior paint, Muscott said. And though the City Hall building is covered by historic preservation code and therefore not subject to many building codes, they decided to implement Americans With Disabilities Act upgrades to the restrooms and raise some of the shorter railings to make them safer, she said.

“It’s such an old, historic building and you can see that building from anywhere when you cross over the river,” Muscott said. “It’s a charm in our community.”

Bay City is characterized by its charming buildings in downtown, Muscott said. There is a presence of family-owned restaurants and businesses and an absence of fast-food joints or chain stores, she said. “We have a street called Center Avenue that has old historic mansions from back in the lumbering days,” she said.

In Bay City there are about 15,000 households, people who live either to the east or the west of the Saginaw River, a 22-mile ribbon of water that bisects the city and flows northward into Lake Huron.

In the summer, the river is host to concerts and festivals, including an annual three-day fireworks festival. This summer will be the 50th anniversary of the Bay City Fireworks Festival, which is expected to pop 40,000 fireworks in 40 minutes.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Cybersecurity in an "All-IP World" Are You Prepared?
In a recent survey conducted by Public CIO, over 125 respondents shared how they protect their environments from cyber threats and the challenges they see in an all-IP world. Read how your cybersecurity strategies and attitudes compare with your peers.
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
View All

Featured Papers