Prescient Solutions’ Consultants Help Addison, Illinois Put Out IT Fires

The Addison, Illinois Fire Protection District’s three fire stations respond to some 5,200 calls per year, providing vital public safety services to the village’s more than 35,000 residents. Knowing this critical function was relying on a rickety information technology infrastructure, Addison brought in Prescient Solutions to review and correct the deficiencies.

Problem

The Addison Fire Protection District knew they didn’t have strong IT skillsets on staff; of their 70 employees, not one was a trained IT professional. The fire protection district relied on an administrative assistant, self-taught from on-line study, and the most common solution when a system didn’t work properly was to reboot and hope the problem went away.

But the district’s IT challenges could not all be solved so simply. When Prescient Solutions came in and performed an infrastructure assessment in 2013, the study revealed several deep problems. The communication system between fire stations was slow. Security was lacking, with insecure Wi-Fi, outdated firewall rules, and weak password policies. There were hardware problems, including servers and power supplies that were dead. Nothing was backed up. “We were a nanosecond away from losing everything,” Scott Walker, Addison’s fire chief says.

Solution

Prescient Solutions provided a full-time, on-site IT consultant who reports to Walker. “Everything has been updated and made new,” Walker says. The entire IT infrastructure has been upgraded to modern technology, including a robust backup procedure using cloud storage.

Prescient Solutions provided services that went beyond general IT maintenance and upkeep. With support from Prescient, the fire department now has microwave communications between fire stations, and hardwired telecom equipment is being upgraded to a VoIP solution. Other ongoing efforts include transitioning to Microsoft Office 365 and deploying mobile data terminals in fire department vehicles and ambulances.

Benefits

The biggest benefit, Walker reports, is the access to expertise Prescient Solutions brings. Instead of a single employee with limited knowledge, they have access to all the knowledge of all the Prescient Solutions consultants. In addition to their on-site consultant’s own IT knowledge, Addison was able to leverage other Prescient Solutions’ resources with the skills to handle specialized projects such as installing the microwave communications equipment.

Walker also appreciates the management benefits of dealing with a contracted employee; he doesn’t handle payroll/health/benefits for their Prescient Solutions’ consultant.

An additional benefit is that ongoing and future information technology needs will be met. Walker says, “Initially we thought we’d need an on-site resource for a few years and then switch to part time, but we haven’t yet run out of things where we need a guy every day.” With Prescient Solutions, Addison knows the IT support is there when they need it.