The Malone Telegram

Saturday, May 2, 1998

Area Schol District Officials
Officials from area school districts met with representatives of the Franklin-Hamilton BOCES North Franklin Educational center Thursday for a demonstration of the Adirondack Area Network teleconference system which will link communities, schools and various agencies with live, two way video and computer information hookups.

BOCES Internet links extensive

Staff Reporter
Students at the Salmon River Central School District may be in store for a visit to the Indianapolis City Zoo in the near future, without having to leave their desks, thanks to the activation of the Adirondack Area Network.

Northern Franklin County school district representatives met with officials of the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES Friday for a demonstration of the Adirondack Area Network.

It is a state-of-the-art teleconference system that can link school districts, local and state government bodies, physicians and medical centers and just about anyone else connecting them to each other for two way exchanges, debates and the transfer of information. The system can provide two way video links as well as access to information and computer interaction.

The system uses existing "T-line" copper telephone communications wiring used throughout the North Country by the Bell Atlantic Co, according to local BOCES superintendent David DeSantis Walbridge.

The unveiling of the network included a visit to the Malone BOCES teleconference site by Malone School Superintendent Wayne Walbridge, Salmon River School District Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Singleton and Paul V. Fiacco, superintendent of the Brushton-Moira Central School District.

They listened to a four-way live discussion transmitted over telephone lines, between teleconference sites in Malone, Plattsburgh, Troy and Albany. The teleconference included live comments from state Sen Ronald Stafford, R-Plattsburgh and Sen. Joseph Bruno and medical officials representing the Albany Medical Center in Albany and Sage Colleges in Troy.

Bruno and Stafford said the new network will assist the North Country and Adirondacks region of the state, linking the area to valuable downstate centers of information. Stafford noted that had the system existed several years earlier, when he underwent surgery, his physicians could have received extra medical counseling, had they needed it, via the high speed teleconference link.
"The advanced high speed technology will improve our rural areas, business climate, enhance health care services and enrich educational opportunities by linking the North Country and New York Capital District through an interactive community network," Stafford said.

Bruno noted that he was once involved in the telecommunications business field and he said technological advancements in communications had outstripped his past experiences.

"This project is an example of the cutting-edge technology New York State needs to be economically competitive with other states and countries to lead our nation into the next century," Bruno stated.

Representatives of the Albany Medical Center talked of the likelihood that North Country health care workers of all kinds will be able to use the system for various types of meetings and training and information exchanges.

The same kind of service can be offered to, local school districts, according to DeSantis. He and others noted that 2,500 region teachers might receive new training to discuss a variety of educational programs and changes with the use of the new network.

BOCES officials in Plattsburgh said they expect that up to 17,000 students in the region, will benefit from the teleconference network.

The network can also create a type of virtual realty for some students. DeSantis said once the Salmon River Central School District is linked to the service, in about a month, that plans will be finalized for trip, linking students there to the Indianapolis City Zoo.

The link can be used in other field trip instances, connecting students to various museums and other facilities around the nation, DeSantis said.

Officials connected with the teleconference network said it costs from $5,000 to $70,000 to construct a teleconference site with the needed video, monitor and computer equipment.
The cost of using the teleconference-video-computer service ranges from $750 to about $900 a month for the equipment connection, compared to conventional costs of as about $100 an hour for other teleconference service hookups.

DeSantis said the system now in service through BOCES in Malone has 20 months of free telephone service from the Bell Atlantic Co.

In addition to quick communications, the network will also allow access to the internet, provide distance learning capabilities for school districts, links to area libraries, access to data of various types and video and information links to area medical centers and hospitals.

The teleconference network will be able to transmit clear photographic information including MRI and X-ray information.

Those school districts which will be using the system locally will include the BrushtonMoira School District, Chateaugay Central School, Franklin Academy in Malone, Malone Middle School, Salmon River Campus School, St Regis Mohawk School, the Tupper Lake Central School, the BOCES educational center and administration office.

The Akwesasne Freedom School, the Lake Placid Junior and Senior High School and the St. Regis Falls Central School will be linked to the teleconference and information network later in the year.