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One Year Later, How ICN and Customers Navigated the COVID-19 Pandemic

Reflecting on the telecommunications and broadband support and consultation to State agencies, the Legislative and Judicial branches of government, healthcare providers, and educational institutions.

ICN’s Communications Test on Remote Infrastructure

In February 2020, ICN performed a communications test on its remote infrastructure. At that time, it was determined necessary to test the tools that were relevant to operating the ICN remotely.  A Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) telework exercise was planned on March 11, 2020.

The tools tested included our Voice Business Communicator application for our VoIP platform, a dual authentication application, and the organization’s secure VPN service. All employees were instructed to have these tools installed and operational on their laptops by the end of day March 10, 2020.

  • The bandwidth allocated to the VPN client was 10Gb, and only an additional 15Mb of bandwidth was consumed during the test on our VPN client.
  • With security a priority, a dual authentication is used for ICN employees to gain access to our VPN client. During the test, the dual authentication security solution scaled and operated well. ICN enabled a remote workforce quickly and still maintained the integrity of the Network.
  • The Business Communicator application provided the ICN with a seamless unified voice experience across our mobile and computer platforms. This application allowed staff to easily access voice services efficiently and with very little stress on the Network.

The COOP/COG test went exceptionally well, and ICN staff was unknowingly prepared to assist our customers in the weeks and months ahead.

COVID-19 Support

COVID-19 forced many of our customers to reevaluate their network connectivity to support remote users and statewide telehealth requirements. ICN had the capability in meeting our customer needs.

Continuity of Government

New 10Gb Internet Connection

Government Teleworkers: ICN installed a new 10Gb Internet connection for the additional VPN bandwidth needed for government teleworkers to connect back to their network resources from remote locations.

Ethernet Connection

Regular Press Conference Updates: ICN supplies the Ethernet connection between Iowa Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) for the Governor’s press conference.

Service Support by Sector

Healthcare

Bandwidth Increases: Thirteen (13) hospitals received bandwidth increases at no charge. Orders were completed within 48 hours of being submitted. Some hospitals have kept the increased service and placed official orders.

Importance of Telehealth: In mid-March [2020], hospital and clinic services were nearly shut down in order to slow the possible spread during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, ICN provided free temporary bandwidth increases for two months. St. Anthony Regional Hospital shared how the increased bandwidth through ICN has been a valuable asset for telehealth: clinical applications, non-clinical applications and medical staff communication.

Government

Bandwidth Increases: Provided 16 government agencies requested bandwidth increases.

Voice Mobility: Our VoIP Business Communicator application enables flexibility to support teleworking State employees. Government employees working remotely have been able to continue answering their phones and providing services to Iowans as if they never left the office. ICN moved three DHS call center offices to MVS quickly to allow staff to work remotely.

Data and Voice Support:

  • Tested & validated phones used for Emergency activation for the Governor and her team.
  • Reconfiguration to support relocation of MVS phones and fax line for the IDPH to Joint Forces Headquarters.
  • Judicial increased Voice conference calling accounts.
  • Installed cabling & switches to support data and voice.

Education

Bandwidth Increases: Twenty-four (24) K-12 school districts requested increases in bandwidth during a special funding session through the FCC’s E-rate Schools and Libraries program in October 2020.

Public Wi-Fi at Community Colleges: ICN assisted Eastern Iowa Community College to enable public Wi-Fi connections at their Bettendorf and Clinton campuses by setting up Wi-Fi connections in parking lots for students to access online assignments.

Collaboration: Communicated with community colleges, private colleges and area education agencies regarding telecommunications assistance.

County Services

Emergency Connectivity: ICN is providing services to 3 county emergency management agencies per the Governor’s State of Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation and Iowa Code section 8D.9.

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