Cook County and CTA Collaborate on Broadband Agreement

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool today announced a collaboration that will advance the technological capability of Stroger Hospital, through new broadband infrastructure, at virtually no cost to taxpayers. The new intergovernmental agreement (IGA) will allow the county to utilize eight available strands of the CTA’s broadband fiber optic cable, which is in the rail right of way running approximately three miles from the James R. Thompson Center to the CTA Polk Street Station. The fiber optic cable will connect Stroger Hospital to the county’s downtown campus, creating a high-speed network that increases organizational bandwidth exponentially. In turn, the CTA will benefit from shared maintenance costs for the utilized segment of the network. “This project is the first step in building a strong broadband infrastructure for the 21st century,” President Preckwinkle said. “The Cook County-CTA collaboration is a committed partnership and will provide a positive impact for residents. This is a critical step to modernize the county hospital system through improved technology.” The CTA’s fiber optic cable will allow the broadband transfer of digital communications, including internet, phone and video at a level necessary to meet the ever increasing demand for high-speed communications. With the new broadband access, the county hospital system will be poised to join a leading national research network that allows institutions to connect with each other at speeds one-hundred times faster than commercial internet. This will directly benefit Stroger Hospital’s research and educational goals, without additional spending on infrastructure. Going forward, the new fiber optic cable will help in network and datacenter administration, including electronic medical records, health information exchange, and telemedicine and it will ultimately reduce IT costs by facilitating shared datacenters and cloud computing. The CTA is pleased to support this agreement because it will allow faster internet speed and capacity for one of the most vital institutions in the city and county, which will be of great benefit to the residents of Cook County and Chicago,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said. “We are proud to be a part of the collaboration between Cook County and the CTA,” said Dr. Ram Raju, CEO, Cook County Health and Hospitals System. “This is a step in the right direction to further advance medical technology at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. Not only do physicians and medical staff benefit, but more importantly, patients will benefit in the future from advanced technology.” This is the first time the CTA has worked with the county to provide fiber optic access. The inter-government collaboration optimizes the use of an existing public asset, and avoids the need for the county to build new fiber, or pay to lease more broadband capacity from private enterprise. Work on the expanded network is expected to be completed by the end of the year. This is the first in a series of anticipated shared fiber projects between the county and the CTA. The IGA was approved by the Cook County Board on March 13th, and by the CTA Board on March 14th.