Tekkru Media Blog

First Nations Youth Perspective

2009 ICT Summit

Main Room at the Conference

Building Networks in First Nations Communities

Jess Gordon, a thirty year veteran in the IT industry and IT Manager for the Namgis First Nation, described how the Namgis went form having a six computer non-networked system, to being one of the most technologically advanced first nations in B.C. The Namgis network now consists of 140 computers on 12 different servers, with systems in 18 different buildings, and is only managed by three technology staff. This is an amazing feat for a first nations community, but it didn’t happen over night it took ten years and very extensive planning.

The purpose of Mr. Gordon’s presentation though was not to boast about how great the Namgis network was, but to share an experience that he hoped would help other first nations communities advance in the technological world and help first nations across Canada build strong sustainable communities using technology. The process may not be quick but it is rather simple and focuses on four main things; meeting the present and future needs of the community, planning how the network will be set up, training staff to best utilize the system, and maintaining the system so it is always running efficiently.

Similar to many processes a community will go through, the first priority is meeting the needs of the community, both the present and the future. The first thing to look at is what does the community already have? Do they need to start from scratch? Or do they have components that can be integrated into the new system? Then they need to decide what performance will be required of the network, by looking at the individual needs of the departments in the office, or in different buildings in some cases. (E.g. finance, natural resources, treaty, administration, youth center etc.) Then how will it need to be connected? Should it be wireless, wired, or a combination of both? The most important part is that it will be as efficient as possible and meet all the needs, present and future, of the community.

After what is required of the network has been decided, then implementation of a plan on to build a system that will best fit the community’s needs must happen. The first step is figuring out what components are needed to build the network, for example how many computers? How many servers? How much wiring? What type of software? All of which depends the needs of the community. After what components/software is required has been decided, then the budget needs to be planned, how much will this cost? Be sure to allow room for all expenses, it is never good to come up short and have to ask for more money. Then a time table needs to be set, when is this project going to happen? And how long will it take? Again be sure you allow enough time to be sure everything is in perfect working order so the transition goes as smoothly as possible. Another step that should be taken into consideration is the safety and security of the network. How will it prevent failure, viruses, and compromised data? What kind of back up system will be used? What policies are needed to prevent misuse? All this will aid in the protection of important data stored on the network.

During the configuration of the network is when the training should begin, all staff should to know how to best utilize the resources available. Staff should also know the policies which should have been laid out in the planning process to ensure the network remains safe and secure. There should also be some sort of standardization of systems and software to ensure communication remains clear through out the network.

The final step of the process is to maintain the system; there should be a well trained technology staff that can keep the network running smooth and efficient. The staff should be trained in disaster recovery (e.g. server failure, hardware failure) and be able to get the system back in top condition as soon as possible.

This process shows that whether a system is large or small, if it is designed correctly, following this simple format, any community can develop a network to help them selves become strong and sustainable.

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March 1, 2009 - Posted by | 2009 ICT Summit, Media Events

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