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Lancaster County-Wide Communications Keeps 911 Reliability With RTUs

Steve Palumbo
Steve Palumbo
Network Architect
Lancaster County-Wide

Lancaster County-Wide Communications (LCWC) provides 9-1-1 services to the County of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The county encompasses approximately 984 square miles and has a population of over 485,000. Lancaster 911 dispatch answers an average of 580 calls per day and dispatches an average of 1,090 emergency and non-urgent incidents per day. There is a staff of 75 dispatchers with an average of 15 on duty at all times.

Steve Palumbo is a D&E Communications Inc. Network Architect contracted to LCWC 911, and he plays a critical role in keeping lifesaving 911 services online. "I manage the network and computer systems here at LCWC and provide technical consulting services to LCWC management when needed," said Palumbo. "I recently was asked by management if I could provide assistance to the LCWC radio technicians in their effort to establish monitoring of the equipment and buildings at the radio communications tower sites."

LCWC has a complex network, and maintaining it is no small task.

"I can't give you specific numbers because of security reasons, but we have a number of remote sites and the system we've established using the NetGuardian will help LCWC to manage the alarms at each of them. For the primary sites, we have T1 connections for data backhaul over a private microwave system that the LCWC Radio Technicians manage," said Palumbo. "The other smaller sites have POTs lines and we eventually plan to make use of the dialup capabilities of the NetGuardian units at those."

Inheriting an Incomplete Monitoring System created a Potential Roadblock

The termination of a contract just before their monitoring went online created a serious situation at Lancaster county dispatch.

"We were left with equipment already installed, but the setup of monitoring for alarms at the remote sites hadn't been completed."

"LCWC management knew that I had already implemented an extensive monitoring system for their data network and that we were also utilizing the tower site T1's for IP cameras at the remote sites," said Palumbo. "They asked me if I could find a way to use the established network monitoring system I was using to include monitoring of the equipment and shelter alarms at the sites. I said, 'Let me take a look at these DPS NetGuardian units and see what I can come up with."

No-Cost Training DVDs Deliver a Quick Solution

For assistance, he contacted DPS Telecom, the manufacturer of NetGuardian remotes. "I spent some time talking to DPS Sales, and they sent me two training DVDs and pointed me in the right direction," he recalled. "They got me set up with an account on DpsTele.com and I was able to download information and MIBs for the NetGuardian boxes that we have."

"It was a piece of cake."

Palumbo Integrates the NetGuardian with his What's Up Gold SNMP Manager in Just 3 Days

Within only 3 days, Palumbo was able to have his NetGuardian remotes report to his SNMP manager software.

"We'll be able to plug the NetGuardian into the switch at each remote site, reconfigure them with new IP addresses, and we'll be good to go."

"I sat down with the NetGuardian after visiting the DPS website and pulling down some documentation," he said. "I got the NGEdit Windows utility set up, learned how to configure the alarms and how each alarm was mapped within the NetGuardian SNMP MIB. After that, I upgraded the firmware on the NetGuardian, imported the NetGuardian MIBs, and started configuring SNMP alerts in What's Up Gold. It was a piece of cake."

Palumbo also found that getting the NetGuardian set up on his network was very fast. "We'll be able to plug the NetGuardian into the switch at each site, reconfigure them with a new IP address, and we'll be good to go."

Training Materials Also Reveal the NetGuardian's Ability to Control IP Cameras

While he was mostly focused on SNMP information, Palumbo watched the full length of both NetGuardian training DVDs for a very specific reason. "I watched it all to see the other things the NetGuardian did," he said. "One of the other features I found interesting was the ability to control IP cameras. We're going to take a look at that too one day."

Monitoring Turn-up Continues Moving Forward Just Days After it Began

Supported by training materials, downloadable MIBs, and free firmware upgrades, Palumbo will soon be downloading his NetGuardian testbed configuration to sites across his network.

"It's been a great experience. It's working well for us."

"It took me another day or so to get all the alarms built-in What's Up Gold and to play with formatting for the alerting messages that will be emailed and sent to pagers/phones for the radio techs," he said. "It's been a great experience. It's working well for us."

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