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Oxford and Beyond

Fortunate timing leads to partnership between Miami, SWOCA

University donated network equipment, wireless access points to help area K-12 schools

Oxford and Beyond

Fortunate timing leads to partnership between Miami, SWOCA

Sometimes, it’s all about timing.

A recent collaboration between Miami University and the Southwest Ohio Computer Association (SWOCA) came about through their respective participation in another venture. Both organizations were part of a project to enhance broadband in underserved parts of Butler County.

This led to a separate discussion between Miami and SWOCA. Was there an opportunity to do something with the university’s decommissioned network equipment and wireless access points? Typically, that equipment would be recycled. But, Troy Travis, Miami’s assistant vice president of enterprise operations, and Marc Hopkins, SWOCA’s chief technology officer, agreed that the donation of the equipment could be a boost for several of SWOCA’s K-12 member schools.

The donation couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Hopkins. “Many of our schools had outdated equipment that was well past its scheduled life,” Hopkins said. “When our students return to class in the fall, they will see faster Wi-Fi coverage in the classroom, and our members will have a more secure wireless network.”

SWOCA provides IT support and services to schools and municipalities across seven counties in the southwest Ohio region totaling more than 140,000 students. Hopkins said the upgraded equipment is currently being deployed to seven of its member districts, which were no longer receiving much needed security updates from the manufacturer.

Miami had the surplus because of its ongoing strategy to enhance Wi-Fi in the residence halls on the Oxford campus.

“What we really wanted was someplace that could do good work with the equipment,” Travis said. “This checked all the boxes.”

David Seidl, Miami’s vice president for IT services and chief information officer, noted that the university emphasizes partnerships not only across the institution but in the region as well. Seidl pointed to both this recent collaboration with SWOCA, as well as the university’s work with Butler County as examples of Miami’s positive impact in southwest Ohio.

“We know the challenges these school districts face,” Seidl said. “This makes a difference.”

Travis said a member of one of the school districts has already reached out to offer thanks for the updated equipment. He also praised the networking staff who performed a majority  of the work as well as Miami’s offices of general counsel and procurement for their help throughout the process to “help us do good things the right way.”

“Many things had to happen behind the scenes,” Travis added.