The City of Gardner was awarded a $200,000 grant as a part of the state’s Community Compact Municipal Fiber Grant Program, which will allow the city to connect its School Department, Police Department, and the new location of the Gardner Senior Center at Waterford Street School to a single fiber optic network. This will allow for a streamlining of the management of IT infrastructure by adopting a unified approach, which covers network monitoring, cybersecurity, records management, and backup and recovery, achieving a long-held goal of more efficient and secure communications between city departments.
“This funding will do a lot of good in helping us improve our public safety efforts and our work to create a new community center at the Waterford Street School location,” Mayor Michael Nicholson said. “Thank you to Director Anne Gobi, Rep. Jon Zlotnik, and all of our state partners for their efforts to give local governments the tools they need to be successful. I would also like to thank our city’s director of technology, Bob O’Keefe, for his efforts in writing and obtaining this funding for the city.”
“The immediate benefit will be the police will have access to school cameras from the Police Station. Future benefits include faster internet and greater internet connectivity,” Gardner Director of Information Technology Bob O’Keefe said.“The fiber connection to the former Waterford School will bring internet service without a monthly recurring cost. This will save our Senior Center approximately $60,000 over the next 10 years. The savings will also be available for the nonprofits that will be in that building. With the fiber, the city’s Tech Department will be able to monitor and maintain its computers, phones and security without leaving City Hall.”
The funding received through the Community Municipal Fiber Grant Program will pave the way for an essential communication upgrade in the city, enabling crucial connections between the School Department, Police Department, Senior Center, and the connection to the Radio Repeater. With this integration, the city has taken a significant step towards streamlining its IT infrastructure management. By adopting a unified approach encompassing network monitoring, cybersecurity, records management, backup and recovery, this development will provide for an improved communications environment amongst city departments.
This project continues the progress that the city has made in connecting its municipal buildings to one fiber optic network. Currently, Gardner City Hall, Gardner Fire Headquarters, and the Gardner Police Headquarters are all connected by fiber optic cable.
About the Municipal Fiber Grant Program
The Municipal Fiber Grant Program offers grants to support the closing of critical gaps that exist in municipal networks. Awards are focused on connecting municipality-owned facilities and assisting municipalities in achieving goals associated with their fiber networks, including protection from the growing risk of cybersecurity exploits targeting local government, the expansion of remote work, and meeting the expectations of constituents who enjoy the convenience of interacting with government online.
“These funds from the state are important to make sure Gardner’s IT infrastructure is capable of serving its purpose to the fullest, and is secure,” said state Rep. Jon Zlotnik. “These systems are critical to the operations of the city and the services it provides, so these investments are equally important.”
“Having reliable communication is important for delivering quality emergency response to the citizens as well as providing a critical safety lifeline to first responders,” Fire Chief Greg Lagoy said. “The city is in the process of making upgrades to the site, including the installation of a new communications equipment shelter building. This new fiber connection will provide a dedicated, reliable connection for radio, data and security systems from the repeater site to the city’s Public Safety agencies and the Central Dispatch Center at the Police Station. This is an excellent upgrade for the city, and will provide future expansion capability for emerging technology in Public Safety communication systems.”
In this round of funding, $4 million was given as grants to benefit 32 municipalities and school districts across Massachusetts.