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County of SC weighs in: the fiber cut had nothing to do with the fire

By Jason Hoppin
Communications Manager, County of Santa Cruz

October 24, 2017 — Santa Cruz, CA

[Editor’s note: Last week, Santa Cruz Tech Beat published Santa Cruz fights fire with fiber, 10/18/17. Here’s a response from the County of Santa Cruz. Also, the photo above is not a photo of the actual fiber that was cut.]

“It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.”

I wanted to provide you with some updated info on the fiber cut that impacted County websites on the day of the Bear Fire. It appears the Santa Cruz fights fire with fiber article may be based on dated info, so here’s the story. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Mainly, the cut had nothing to do with the fire. A contractor clipped AT&T’s line, which means we were one of 8,000-10,000 customers to lose connectivity. I realize this was frustrating (and perhaps scary) for some members of the public given the fire, but we also would never post evacuation information on a website and ask people to go there. If you need to go, we’ll come to you. The best source for quick updates is social media (Facebook and Twitter were updated during the outage). And for people looking for general information about the fire or any emergency, we always remind people to turn on local news. That’s your best source for info.

Here’s the fiber cut story from ISD (County of Santa Cruz Information Services Department):

  1. The fiber cut was caused by a CalTrans contractor who was working on the Hwy 9 slide near Brookdale. It occurred at approximately 4:45 am. The repair was complicated by having to discover where the fiber cut occurred. It was further complicated by the fact that the contractor had parked over one of the manholes and needed to be contacted to come down from the North Bay area to move the equipment. It was then discovered that Cal Trans had paved over one of the two manholes required for access to repair the fiber. The fiber was repaired by 8 pm, Tuesday night (10/17/17), and the Network and Sys Admin teams were able to move the services back from Cruzio to AT&T before 7 am the following morning.
  2. We contacted Cruzio before 10 am, and had connectivity a little after noon. Cruzio had to come over to adjust equipment and check on a minor issue. It is not a “fail over” connection, but a second connection that comes into the County that primarily serves as a connection for the Public WIFI at this time. Moving internet access to the Cruzio connection was a manual process that required an hour to complete because of the internal programming required.
  3. The website was not available until we had a connection back through Cruzio. Due to constraints on the Cruzio network configuration (minimal IP addresses) we were only able to bring up critical parts of the internet server to provide citizen updates on the Bear Fire. The server itself was never “flooded” and remained operational. Our normal internet connection with AT&T is 250Mbps; the Cruzio back up is 100Mbps. Due to internal traffic (departments using the internet and accessing email from Office 365 via a web browser etc.) we saw the 100 Mbps connection quickly maximize, and requested a “bump” from Cruzio to deal with the outbound traffic. The request for the bump had nothing to do with citizen access to the web server.

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