Senate embarks on two-year IT upgrade

A two-year rolling plan for IT management improvement will bring better security and technology refreshment to the Senate's 12,000 varied computers and 445 LANs, Senate CIO Greg Hanson said today.

'You don't usually associate emerging technology with the Senate,' said Hanson, who has held his post for eight months. He said the personal and committee staffs are demanding better IT, real-time news about current events and the ability to carry out their duties under any circumstances.

Seeing his job as technology infusion, Hanson said he will seek agreement from the chamber's numerous stakeholders to improve their business processes.

'We have pretty much everything in technology here,' he said. Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail is one of the few broad standards. Some senators' offices use Mac OS applications or Lotus cc:Mail. That won't change under his two-year plan, but he is bringing on new systems and connectivity, including:

  • A prototype Office Emergency Coordinator check-in system using broadband wireless communication to a central database

  • Better wireless coverage in and around the Senate office buildings and the Capitol for all major carriers, BlackBerrys from Research in Motion Ltd. of Waterloo, Ontario, and IEEE 802.11 wireless fidelity devices

  • A combo BlackBerry 7280 and wireless phone, now in beta testing, to run a new interactive messaging application for legislative and emergency alerts

  • An Active Directory Messaging Architecture for migration to the Microsoft Corp. directory infrastructure under 12 possible configurations that each office's chief of staff will be able to choose from.

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