Cameron wraps up year of major improvements

BROWNSVILLE — Cameron County is heading into 2018 with some significant improvements to its technology infrastructure.

The county allocated $595,000 to the Computer Information Services department’s capital expenditures budget for 2017, the second year of a $1.2 million technology overhaul plan spread out across five years.

Technology Director Juan Saldaña II said his department created technology standards for the county, ensured proper security measures were in place and shored up infrastructure. The changes bring it on par with other counties, improve efficiency and will reduce costs in the long run, he added.

“Any time departments like IT are looking for significant funding, a lot of people don’t understand what we do,” he said. “We were lucky some of the commissioners were up to speed and supported us.”

Saldaña’s department also modernized the county’s servers, reducing the number from 68 to 12. The change will not only reduce power and cooling costs, but allow the county to expand its data capacity without purchasing more servers for the next eight years. Cameron County generates an additional two terabytes of data per year, he said.

The county is working to expand wireless internet availability in its facilities, and some of the locations connected this year were the Dancy, Levee and Sheriff’s Office buildings. The Cameron County Courthouse and Justice of the Peace offices are slated to be connected next.

The Computer Information Services department’s capital expenditures budget will steadily decease to $100,000 by 2020. That’s because the county primarily will be improving outlying equipment at that point, Saldaña said, with core improvements completed.

In 2018, Saldaña will tackle Cameron County’s outdated data backup system. The county has more data that its backup system can hold — about four terabytes worth. And there’s no catalogue system for the tapes stored at the Dancy Building.

Saldaña reached out to officials in Rockport, Aransas Pass, Corpus Christi and Galveston about how their operations were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and they told him that backing up data is critical.

“We’re looking for something that isn’t based in the Valley,” he said. “It doesn’t do you much good to have your backup here if the storm hits here.”

Improvements include
  • Expanded data capacity
  • Expanded wireless Internet
  • More security measures
  • Improved efficiency
  • Reduced power, cooling costs