Fiber Optics Project Nears Completion

(story by Dana Larson)

As crews continue their work trenching in fiber optic cable, a project over seven years in the making nears completion.

The City of Storm Lake, Storm Lake School District and Buena Vista County forged a partnership for costs and benefits of the technology, and the first phase of installation began in 2015. The project originated with an effort to secure communications for the water and wastewater systems, replacing dated technology such as wireless radios. While exploring options, local leaders found that the fiber system would provide more reliable and secure communications for government and school facilities.

“Over time the investment in this infrastructure will provide reduced costs for internet, phone and data hardware such as servers as we can combine and share resources across the network,” city government reported at the outset of the project. “Additionally, the network will provide the opportunity for the three agencies to work together in the future for technology purposes…”

The base system was put in place in the first phase, at a cost of around $1.3 million. The work this summer will complete a redundant loop to move information. That secure, immediate access could prove vital in the event of a well or water lift station failing, notes Tyler Gibbins of the city staff.

The connectivity also provides a framework for potential future developments to improve services to the public, such as connecting camera for live streaming from events, or offering public wifi access in the parks. “Once the infrastructure is in place, we will have options for adding on additional technology features,” Gibbins said.

The current second phase will cost about $1.6 million. Work is progressing well – while the installation contract runs until December, crews are on pace to finish early, before the end of summer. Work was recently completed along Lakeshore Drive from the bandshell area to near the Flindt Drive and Lakeshore Drive intersection. Work is now continuing in the North Lake Avenue area.