Q&A with Scott Pappan, ICN's Chief Technology Officer
Learn about technology and security initiatives, along with the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and our users.
What new technologies are happening at ICN?
Where do I begin? We just finished networks for E911 Wireline services and Hosted E911 platform for Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD). We also completed a FirstNet carrier-grade public safety network for Iowa HSEMD.
The future will bring the completion of Iowa Hospital Association’s Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program’s (IRHTP) network core upgrade and a 100Gb ICN Network Core statewide upgrade in 2021. Furthermore, we are looking towards the development of a Whitebox solution to allow the ICN to virtualize our network on a cloud infrastructure. This will allow the ICN to build efficiencies that lower capital and operating costs.
What security initiatives are happening at ICN?
Many technology organizations are recognizing the future of optical transport as a function of both capacity and software intelligence. Virtualizing/automating our network will ease network complexity, thereby assisting the ICN as we implement technologies such as Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Cloud Computing Services, 5G technologies, etc. This allows the State of Iowa, as a middle mile provider, the ability to push bandwidth and security to the edge, which meets the demands of our end-users.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on technology practices for our users?
The bandwidth needs of our Closed User Group (CUG) are increasing at a tremendous rate, and keeping up with this trend has made the ICN reevaluate how we look at broadband. The ICN is in the process of completing our 100Gb core network upgrade. We recently finished a statewide power project. The ICN touches every county within Iowa with a minimum of 1gb of bandwidth with most having a minimum of 10gb of bandwidth. The ICN’s IP fabric is now scalable and was made possible by private/public partnerships. This allows the ICN to scale to accommodate increased growth. An example of this was the pressure put on the network when COVID forced many of our agencies/customers to reevaluate their network connectivity to support remote users and statewide telehealth requirements. The result was the ICN had the capability in meeting the needs of online learning in our schools, telehealth requests, and state agencies’ bandwidth increase requirements.