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Systems Development

Case Study


Executive Summary: The City of Lincoln and Lancaster County are rapidly embarking on the delivery of 'Government Services' via the INTERNET and the World Wide Web. Project InterLinc is a comprehensive public access model for both Lincoln's urban and Lancaster County's rural communities. Strategic deployment of free INTERNET/Web access in Lincoln's Ethnic Community Centers, Recreational Centers, Downtown Senior Center and all the City Libraries will allow all our citizens to become familiar with the INTERNET/Web and its interactive capabilities. Project InterLinc will also deploy high speed lines and free INTERNET/Web access for towns and villages throughout Lancaster County. Our project goal is to educate, support, and empower all our citizens, with special attention given to both the economically deprived and the isolated rural areas.

What problem or need will you address in the project? Both urban and rural access to government services are in need of immediate attention. Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, is experiencing rapid growth in its ethnic diversity and in turn the clustering of ethnic populations in specific areas of the city. The trend, based on the latest census information, is that our minority citizens in these areas and their associated incomes are among the lowest levels in the community. (Exhibit 1a,b) Equal access to expensive hardware or Internet services are virtually non-existent. Government services and opportunities, which include employment, health/human services, and general assistance information, usually come by word of mouth or in the best case from some type of interaction with a public health nurse or a social services case worker. Communications with elected officials and other representatives outside the local setting are very limited. In rural Lancaster County, government services can rarely be delivered without the need to drive to the City/County building in Lincoln. Simple transactions like issuing permits, collecting fees, receiving instructional material, or filling out forms, require travel and time for both the citizen and government employees. Another major problem in every rural community is the inability to take advantage of economic development opportunities due to the high cost of implementing effective methods of community exposure. Additionally, most of our rural areas are technically isolated due to the lack of infrastructure, or by the limited income levels of the population base to support independent deployment of any advanced technology.

Why is this an important problem, and why does your project fit the TIIAP? Project InterLinc will be a comprehensive cost-effective way to deliver government services and Internet access to all our citizens whether in the inner city or the rural setting. Our elected officials believe that leveraging technology, like the Internet, toward that goal should be the focus of all local governments. We feel that InterLinc will not only meet the expectations of our citizens but will establish a new standard in performing that critical mission. After attending the TIIAP workshop in Omaha, Nebraska, Project InterLinc altered its original limited focus and expanded its scope and investment to be in complete compliance with TIIAP's goals and objectives. In particular the three areas that have been expanded are:

  1. Reducing Disparities of Access,
  2. Technical Quality, and
  3. Ability to Serve as a Model

Reducing Disparities of Access. A conscious effort to strategically deploy 66% (25 of 38) of the public access points in either low income, ethnically diverse, or isolated rural areas should demonstrate our intent to reduce the gaps between the information "haves" and "have-nots". Direct access from the Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and African-American Community Centers will help meet that goal. (Exhibit 2a, 2c) It is noteworthy to mention that we will be working with the Hispanic Center in supporting bilingual pages on InterLinc. All twelve incorporated rural communities in Lancaster County will also have Internet/Web access plus a Web home page presence. (Exhibit 2b, 2c)

Technical Quality. As an upgrade from our original plans, Project InterLinc will now deploy 56k DDS frame relay service to each of the access points. Each site will be equipped with a serving router and a 12 port Ethernet hub. We believe that this improved infrastructure will position us to give quality line support for today's requirements and provide us with the potential for growth in alternate forms of information delivery in the future. A complete technical profile will be included in the next section.

Ability to Serve as a Model. Project InterLinc has spent much time and effort with the project partners in building a community model that is scalable not only for Nebraska but the nation as a whole. Early on in the design phase of InterLinc, we set as our goal to build a navigationally consistent, performance conscious, set of standardized pages that could be easily replicated from one community to the next. We are currently building a framework that each community can adopt that will include documentation on how to build replaceable objects, organize content material, Web index management, implementation procedures, and administration techniques. We plan to package this material for distribution. One of our project partners has begun to build Web content related proprietary software to help in the creation and management of Web community access projects. The Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, (Nebraska Public Television), will provide an Internet clearinghouse service for the entire state through the NebraskaNet project. (grant award winner from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the US West Foundation) NebraskaNet has selected the InterLinc model as the standard that they will apply in over five hundred communities throughout Nebraska. A functional proto-type of InterLinc can be found at:

How will you carry out the Project? Project InterLinc has two primary missions: 1) "Delivery of Government Services" and 2) "Public Internet Access". A three phase implementation strategy has been defined in the area of Government Service Delivery. Phase 1 will concentrate on the building of interactive Web content from each Department and Agency, which will be placed on the Web file server. Phase 2 will focus on the interactive transaction processing between the file server and the IBM ES/9000 mainframe via IBM's DB2/Web software bridge. Taking advantage of the existing DB2 data base on the mainframe is a high priority and will significantly reduce the need to replicate data on our file server. Phase 3 will focus on secure financial transaction processing using Netscape Commerce or some other type of encryption / cyber-cash processing technique. The Data Processing division will contact each Department and Agency to help identify and select the most critical, beneficial, or cost-effective service area that could be implemented in Phase 1. In addition to Phase 1 service content we will also purchase the interface software for our E-mail facility on the IBM mainframe so that each citizen can have direct access to all of our elected officials via the Internet. Phase 1 will include the creation of Web home pages for each of the 12 rural communities, which will have direct ties with the Department of Economic Development's statistical database that is available from the State of Nebraska. The Data Processing division has assigned its most experienced Systems Project Manager to Project InterLinc, whose primary area of expertise has been in the development and implementation of new application software.

The project manager will formulate a systematic work plan based on a structured Systems Development Methodology, (SDM/70), that is utilized in all new application development projects at the City of Lincoln. The life cycle of an SDM/70 project consists of eight (8) phases ranging from Systems Requirements to System Implementation. Coupled with SDM/70 is PC/70, a Project Control tool set that is used for project planning and tracking. PC/70 assists in milestone planning, helps establish project target dates, supports activity tracking, and detail time reporting of each staff member down to the task level, within each activity, of each phase of the project. In accomplishing the second of the primary missions "Public Internet Access" the project manager will work directly with the Purchasing Division in the bid process that will be required for all hardware and software acquisitions for Project InterLinc. The project manager will also secure agreements from all 38 access locations and coordinate the hardware deployment and network testing with each site manager and our Systems Network Specialist. Both the Info Center Support Specialist, (hardware support) and the Customer Services Specialist, (hot line), areas of responsibility will be activated as soon as the first site goes live. However, before any site goes live, each location, by prior agreement, will have sent at least one of their staff members to our Internet Navigators Certification Course. The project manager will work with and assist our Customer Training Specialist in the creation of course curriculum and hand out material that can be used by each Certified Navigator back at their own locations. We believe that training trainers will not only be beneficial to everyone at the public access locations but will also help reduce the number of service calls that our Customer Services Specialist will need to field. Additionally a quarterly 'Basic Internet Course' for the general public will be offered by the Parks and Recreation Department at each of the equipped recreational centers.

Technical Profile and Approach. The City of Lincoln/Lancaster County has made tremendous strides in the last two years in the area of networking. Outdated equipment and low speed communication lines have been replaced with Backbone Node class Well fleet routers and a single mode fiber optic infrastructure. The current backbone to the core of our network is a 16 mbs token ring, although sufficient fiber has been installed to migrate to a collapsed FDDI or ATM backbone as bandwidth needs so dictate. We have also added 2 additional network personnel in this time frame. Internet connectivity is provided by Lincoln Telephone Company via a 10 mbs fiber optic Ethernet link. Lincoln Telephone's egress to the Internet is provided by Sprintlink via a 45 mbs T-3 connection. Our network is secured from the Internet by a two fold process. All traffic destined into the greater City/County Internet work must pass through a Cisco 2500 series screening router with several packet filters enabled, and then pass through a pentium based application level firewall from Trusted Information Systems. The reverse process holds true for outbound traffic. With this layered approach, we are able to provide a high level of security for all the layers, applications, and sub-protocols of the TCP/IP protocol stack. Project InterLinc connectivity to the proposed sites will be provided via 56 k DDS frame relay circuits. Each location will be equipped with a Cisco 2500 series router and a 12 port Cabletron Ethernet hub providing connectivity to not only our Web file server, but also provide expandability for any other devices deemed necessary in the future. These circuits will have PVC's pointed via a T-1 frame relay connection to a Cisco 2500 class serving router at Data Processing. (Exhibit 3a,b)

What are your qualifications, and who are your partners? The Data Processing Division supports both the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County's information delivery needs. A professional staff of 37 supply the Technical, Operational, and Development Services for both jurisdictions. (Exhibit 4) A variety of hardware platforms, and operating systems are maintained but we are primarily a IBM ES/9000 CICS,DB2,COBOL shop. (Exhibit 5) Our Technical Support section is responsible for the operating system software, DB2 data base management, CICS systems management, plus a variety of other vendor performance monitoring products. The Operations section is responsible for facilities management, customer services, information delivery, network support/management, and the Info Center support group that handles all P.C. hardware/software needs and service requests. The Application Development section is responsible for the support of all vendor software, application software enhancements / maintenance, and the development of all new application software.

Key Personnel.
Mr. Terry D. Lowe InterLinc Project Manager (402) 441-7113
Mr. Doug Harris Lincoln Telephone Company (402) 436-4121
Dr. Randall G. Bretz NebraskaNet Project Manager (402) 472-3611
Mr. Mark Dahmke Information Analytics Inc. (402) 437-9184
Mr. Rod A. Armstrong State Info. Tech. Coordinator (402) 471-3138

Mr. Terry Lowe is the senior Systems Project Manager in our division with 23 years of data processing experience, the last 17 years with the City of Lincoln. Mr. Lowe has successfully managed, designed, developed, and implemented a large variety of CICS/DB2/COBOL applications. System application domains include the Human Services Information System (HSIS), Park and Recreations Class Registration System (PROCTOR), Voter Registration and Tracking System (VOTR), Animal Control and Tracking System (ACT1), Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), and County General Assistance System (CGA) . Two of Mr. Lowe's systems were featured in a nationally published IBM Application Brief. He has a thorough understanding of the City and County data base structures and application content. He is also the recent recipient of the "Mayors Award for Excellence" in the category of productivity.

Mr. Rodney Armstrong is the State Information Technology Coordinator at the Department of Administrative Services with the State of Nebraska. Mr. Armstrong's award winning Planning Grant from TIIAP last year has directly benefited Project InterLinc in defining its roll as the premier community access model in the state. Mr. Lowe and Mr. Armstrong have closely coordinated InterLinc's development so as to be in complete conformance with the TIIAP Planning Grants stated goals and objectives. Mr. Lowe has been and will continue to be an active participant with Mr. Armstrong in his efforts to implement common strategies across the State of Nebraska.

Project Partners. Corporate partnerships have been established in Project InterLinc. Lincoln Telephone Company is not only our Internet Access Provider, they are a major contributor of an in-kind donation to the project. Lincoln Telephone offers Navix, a Internet Access Service that will alleviate Data Processing from having to get involved in the dialup/modem support arena. The Lincoln Telephone Company is the 18th largest telephone company in the U.S. The company serves nearly 13,000 square miles, covering 22 counties in southeastern Nebraska and provides service to nearly 240,000 access lines. Over half the telephones they serve are in the Lincoln area. The largest of their 137 exchanges are located in Lincoln, Hastings, Beatrice, Nebraska City, York, Fairbury and Plattsmouth. In 1992, the company helped launch Nebraska's Frame Relay Service, and completed its Metropolitan Fiber Network for businesses in downtown Lincoln. (Exhibit 6a,6b)

Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) is the umbrella title covering a variety of services and technologies within the headquarters located in Lincoln, Nebraska. From radio and television broadcast services to satellite and fiber optic systems, NET brings people across the state together to learn, share and participate. One such service is NebraskaNet a statewide Internet Information Service. InterLinc is proud to be an active project partner with NebraskaNet, which has and will continue to mutually benefit both projects. Their expertise in multi- media production and extensive lab equipment will greatly benefit Project InterLinc. Additionally they have the ability and desire to move the InterLinc model from a regional to a state wide model. Please read the NebraskaNet support letter and the project profile for a complete description of the service and the extensive list of NebraskaNet project partners. (Exhibit 7a,b,c)

Information Analytics, Inc. has been contracted by both the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Telephone Company as the primary consult in Internet Web content development, Graphic design, and training. Information Analytics is also another contributor of an in-kind donation to Project InterLinc. Mark Dahmke, Vice President of the company, is personally handling our account. Mr. Dahmke is a former consulting editor of BYTE Magazine and has written several books about computer operating systems. He has nearly 20 years of experience in software design, computer graphics, and operating systems. All the Web content work that is in the InterLinc demonstration model has been accomplished by Mr. Dahmke. The working proto-type of InterLinc currently resides on Information Analytics file server. We encourage the reviewers of this grant application, time permitting, to exercise InterLinc keeping in mind that much of the content was purposely scripted for demonstration effectiveness.

In summary, we believe that the relationships with our project partners, Lincoln Telephone Company, NET's NebraskaNet, and Information Analytics, will be long term and will continue well beyond the duration of the TIIAP grant funding. In fact we have negotiated a three year lease with the Lincoln Telephone Company for the 56 k frame relay service. Project InterLinc has been given enthusiastic backing from community leaders, and the elected officials in both the City and the County, with numerous support letters on file.

Who will benefit from the project? Project InterLinc has been designed to benefit all our citizens, whether accessing the Internet from their homes, the bookmobile, or from one of the 38 public access points. As mentioned earlier 66% of the public access points have been targeted for the economically deprived, ethnically diverse, or isolated rural citizens. Our goal is to deliver useful and practical government services which will empower our citizens with information in areas and issues like: Health/Human services, public safety notices/bulletins, plus we want to encourage participation and promote involvement in civic responsibilities like: voting, community forums, current political issues, and provide direct communications with all our elected officials, expressing their concerns at the grass roots level. Education, Support, and Empowerment is the foundation and motto of Project InterLinc. We have and will continue to involve our community leaders in defining what each participating partners roll will be in the successful implementation and use of Project InterLinc. In particular each of the Executive Directors in the community centers have acknowledged that the first step in the effective use of information is to simply understand what is available and how to get to it. In that light we all agree that the initial commitment from each project partner will be to send at least one representative from each access point to go through extensive training, at the Data Processing Division's Training Center, to acquire certification as an Internet Navigator. Each certified navigator will be equipped with the skills and the materials to support their local site. We believe that local navigators/instructors can better meet the needs, and can personalize the training for their clients. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the Parks and Recreation Department will offer quarterly 'Basic Internet' courses at each of the 6 locations for the general public. The Libraries have also indicated their willingness to host 'Basic Internet' courses. Customer support services will be available for resolving all technical problems through our existing Customer Support Section via a hot line. Our goal is to never have an out-of-order sign hanging on any of our public access points. Data Processing will insure that we can support all the sites by inventorying the appropriate replacement parts as will as complete configurations for an immediate swap out if the need arises. Software experts are also available through the hot line, to assist each site representative in answering software question or help in problem resolution. We would like to cite as an example of our commitment to work closely with our project partners, the cooperative effort with the Hispanic Community Center in the supporting of bilingual Web pages. Please review the Letters of Support (Exhibit 8a,b,c,d,e) for a better view of how each partner views Project InterLinc and the effect it will have on each of the specific ethnic groups that they serve. Security and privacy is an important issue for any disciplined organization like the Data Processing Division. Being the gatekeeper of all the public records we are very aware of the need to secure sensitive data as well as protecting the identity of citizens when accessing this data. We feel that most of the data that will be made available on the Web server will be general public information and will need limited protection. However, we will review each application on a case by case basis. When InterLinc is ready for Phase 3 processing (financial transactions) we will incorporate strict protocols and select the best software available at that time to insure the protection of our citizens. If it has not been made clear at this point we want to stress the fact that the training, support, hardware, software, and any line charges that will be incurred at each access site, will be free of charge to the participating entity. The City and County elected officials view the building and support of an access road to the information highway as an infrastructure item just as any other road that needs to be built and maintained in their jurisdiction. (Exhibit 9)

How will you know if your project is successful ? Project InterLinc will monitor, report, and evaluate three separate functional areas: 1) Project Status Reporting, 2) Production Support Reporting, 3) Post Implementation Reporting. Project Status Reporting as mentioned in a previous section, is an activity that the Project Manager will accomplish by utilizing SDM/70 and PC/70. We will collect all relevant material for content development, rate and rank each proposed request, and set target dates accordingly. Hardware and software acquisition, training, and implementation schedules will be established and coordinated with the site preparations in each of the 38 public access locations. Monthly progress reports will include milestone charts, expenditures of time and dollars, and next months planned activities. This report will be published and reviewed by the Data Processing Policy Committee which is an independent advisory board with members from both the City and County. This level of project status reporting will continue until the entire project has been officially placed into a production support mode.

Production Support Reporting will begin as soon as each location has installed and tested their hardware and software, and site certification has been achieved. Once the site is operational, the collection and tracking of performance information will begin. Our Customer Service Support section will utilize an on-line incident reporting system (IRPT) that logs, categorizes, tracks, and monitors the incident duration until problem resolution. Status reports from IRPT are reviewed and evaluated on a weekly basis for the purposes of, quality assurance, reviewing how well we responded to the problem, and to evaluate any policies or procedures that need modification. All hardware / software failures, and downtime information is captured and reviewed on a monthly basis to help identify any trends or problems that could have been anticipated. All of this data is analyzed, measured, and published annually in the divisions standards and goals mission statement.

Post Implementation Monitoring covers a wide variety of performance measurements ranging from general to technical. The Technical Support section will monitor file server utilization for capacity planning purposes. Statistics on CPU performance are charted, system thresholds and watermarks are established. Network statistics will be compiled for each access location. Less technical but very important in the evaluation and support of a large project like InterLinc is the collection and publishing of general statistical information like:

The InterLinc project manager will be responsible for the collection, statistical analysis, and project evaluation reporting. We also support the need to have an independent quality assurance audit performed and published on a annual basis. The complete public dissemination of Project InterLinc's:

  1. Project Status Reports
  2. Production Support Reports
  3. Post Implementation Reports

will be made available on the Internet, at InterLinc, on the Data Processing home page, under the title of 'Project InterLinc Case Study'.

Case Study continued

Systems Development