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Preparations for the “New Normal”

A highly robust telecom infrastructure combined with an educational system that can remotely deliver high-quality instruction and training are among the longer list of corporate “must-haves” in the post-COVID 19 era.

Q2 2020
Until an effective treatment is proven or a vaccination is widely distributed, we’ll continue to have more questions than answers regarding a succinct definition or timing of the “new normal.” However, what we do know now is that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the over-reliance on just-in-time global supply chains. Moving forward, the more successful companies will modify these chains to increase reliability, utilize localization, and create redundancy. Strategies such as rapid satellite facility deployment and workforce balancing will be key to maintaining competitiveness.

Companies now recognize that a robust siting decision cannot rely on a few critical success factors, but also requires a deeper, likely equal, evaluation of risk exposure. Some of responses to these risk factors include:
  • The capability of both the public and private educational system to safely deliver flexible programs, high-quality content, and on-site training.
  • Highly robust telecommunications infrastructure to handle exponential capacity needs for data; and
Ready for Remote Learning
Located along the Gulf Coast, Baldwin County, AL, has also taken its efforts to incorporating technology into its educational system to the next level. In 2012, the Baldwin County Public School System made a commitment to technology enhancement and deployment, providing every child in the system a digital device for educational instruction enhancement. One of the largest school systems in Alabama immediately became the largest school system to be a "one-to-one" system, where each student has their very own Google Chromebook.

With a computer in the hands of every student and a virtual learning environment already established, the Baldwin County Public School System was prepared to respond very fast to the Covid-19 crisis and the transition of students to an online classroom. Within a few weeks, Baldwin County Schools deployed Chromebooks to almost all of its 31,000 students, over 1,400 Internet hotspots to families without Wi-Fi, and a suite of 70 different software applications to all staff and students.

The Baldwin County Public School System’s forward-thinking approach to education and technology development is leading the system to build the State of Alabama's first stand-alone career tech high school, which will be led by business and industry. The first of its kind facility will be state-of-the-art, employing technological advances that business and industry expect their workforce of the future to fully understand and embrace.

Companies now recognize that a robust siting decision cannot rely on a few critical success factors, but also requires a deeper, likely equal, evaluation of risk exposure. A Robust Telecom Infrastructure
In 2004, Lafayette Utilities System, in Lafayette, LA, announced its decision to bring fiber optic network access to every home and business within its service area. The city-wide “fiber to the premise” Internet system, LUS Fiber gave Lafayette businesses and residents three distinct communications options to choose from. This fully fiber platform has been crucial in facilitating the new work-from-home model with up to 10 Gbps affordable broadband availability to homes and businesses. A recent Harvard University study has ranked LUS Fiber #1 in the nation for price savings.

Lafayette has the bandwidth to adapt to quickly evolving regional, national, and international demands created by the COVID-19 emergency or other disasters. Its employers — from local mom-and-pops to its largest tech-intensive businesses — have been able to transition to remote or online work by utilizing Lafayette’s extensive telecommunications infrastructure, allowing them to remain operational with minimal downtime.

When an emergency such as COVID-19 or a natural disaster happens, leadership at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette also depends on reliable connectivity to continue educational and research opportunities — from economic analysis to mathematical modeling to running Louisiana’s Business Emergency Operations Center.

“The availability of robust broadband technology infrastructure in the region has been critical to our ability to take approximately 20,000 students from an in-person classroom instruction to an online delivery model over a weekend,” said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, VP for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at the university.

“While our faculty, staff, and students did an amazing job to facilitate this transition, having this technology backbone in place ensured business continuity, allowing us to deliver on our academic and research missions as a modern research university — without missing a beat.”

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