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The Idaho Department of Correction plays an integral role in the safety of Idaho communities. Comprised of 36 facilities throughout the state and over 1,500 employees, the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) relies heavily on communication systems both internal and external to their organization.
The staff at the IDOC utilizes these systems to manage a number of day-to-day activities including inmate management, parolee tracking, and sex offender registration— all of which are critical elements of public safety.
The department operates a central administrative office, eight correctional institutions, four community work centers, and 22 probation/parole district and satellite offices.
Beginning in 2007, the IDOC began experiencing network outages with their service provider—sometimes as many as five outages in given month. The IDOC IT team attempted to work through the issues with their provider, but was frequently left on hold without answers.
“An outage means that parole officers can’t track offenders with ankle bracelets, correctional officers can’t utilize gang affiliation systems, and those under house arrest are not able to be tracked,” said Mike Griffin, Senior Integration Analyst for the IDOC. “These systems are mission- critical for us and we count on our service provider to be there for us.”
In the spring of 2008, the IDOC experienced a massive outage with all 36 sites down for 48 hours. During the outage, a number of critical services were unavailable including CIS, a multi-state prisoner management system hosted in Idaho. This system is used to administer movement of prisoners within and between facilities and includes critical data such as gang affiliations.
“An outage like this starts to add up in dollars as well. Entire prisons are frozen and field officers are unable to perform their duties,” Griffin said. “We knew it was time to find another service provider.”
After many months of evaluation and planning, the IDOC identified Syringa Networks as their new service provider in February 2009. Although smaller in size than the IDOC’s previous provider, Syringa Networks has an established regional network that was purpose-built just for the IDOC’s mission-critical applications.
“We were a little concerned at first about the size of Syringa Networks, but their network has been completely world-class,” Griffin said.
Syringa Networks provided the IDOC with a Gigabit Ethernet connection at their main facility and took the lead on managing their circuits to the other 35 sites, resulting in substantial cost savings.
In the first six months of service, the IDOC saved over $100,000 in network service. Other savings were realized as a result of network uptime, avoiding the lost man- hours the IDOC had been experiencing with their previous service provider.
“Since we have moved to Syringa Networks we have had ZERO outages— and when we need to reach someone, we have a direct contact with their engineering staff,” Griffin said.
Syringa Networks facilities-based fiber optic network is a self-healing ring that is dual-protected by both SONET and DWDM technologies, meaning that a complete fiber cut takes only 50 milliseconds to recover. Additional safeguards include buried fiber routes that reduce the chances of vandalism and weather-related outages, as well as diverse routes that remove single points of failure. This level of reliability makes Syringa Networks an ideal provider for businesses and agencies like the IDOC with mission-critical applications.
“We were surprised to learn that such a robust network was right here in Idaho. It’s a bonus that Syringa Networks is an Idaho company. The performance and cost savings make it an easy choice for us. They have been a great partner for us,” Griffin said.
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