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Cities explore linking fiber-optic networks

Kettering, Centerville, Oakwood seek innovation grant

The cities of Kettering, Centerville and Oakwood have applied for a joint $100,000 grant fromOhio’s Local Government Innovation Fund to study the outcome of linking their municipal fiber-optic networks.

The city-owned systems, which are both below ground and above, currently connect computer, telephone and other systems for each community’s government buildings, schools, service centers, police agencies, public utilities and other operations.

Uniting them, with a possibility of adding other area cities in the future, could increase efficiency, reduce information technology costs and create revenue in the three Montgomery County cities, which have a combined population of almost 90,000.

Oakwood city manager Norbert Klopsch said the cities believe “this valuable infrastructure could be put to much greater use” because it has considerable extra capacity. “Fiber can handle an enormous amount of data. The findings of this study would tell us a lot more about the benefits of moving forward with this.”

Centerville manager Greg Horn said it’s “an issue we’ve talked about off and on for several years among ourselves and the other eight member cities of the Miami Valley Communications Council,” which also includes Germantown, Miamisburg, Moraine, Springboro and West Carrollton.

“Some of us have been more immediately interested due to our geographic proximity,” said Horn. “The grant would allow us to refocus and expedite the process. We’re already doing some things together, such as sharing our police databases.”

Ohio 48 — Far Hills Avenue in Oakwood and Kettering, Main Street in Centerville — connects the three cities. The main trunk of Oakwood’s underground fiber-optic cable runs just below Far Hills.

“Our governor and leaders in Columbus have told us often that we need to work together more and share services,” he said. “We might learn whether this will be funded by last October. We could get started on it as early as December.”

Horn said the cities could combine servers, phone systems and security systems while linking traffic systems, community libraries, schools and courts.

“Using this to create revenue is not driving this so much as reducing redundancies and being more efficient, but there might be an opportunity to offer backup capability for private facilities,” he said.

“A century ago, cities were trying to hook up their streets so you didn’t go from four lanes in one, to two lanes and then one in another. This is just a different type of highway.”

Oakwood installed its system in the mid to late 1990s during an overhaul of traffic signals in the city.

City manager Norbert Klopsch said it replaced an unreliable system that relied on World War II-era copper wiring.

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