Detailed Strategy and Strong Teamwork Surmount Unusual Challenges to Design Successful Network Upgrade by California Department of State Hospitals

Detailed Strategy and Strong Teamwork Surmount Unusual Challenges to Design Successful Network Upgrade by California Department of State Hospitals 150 150 Shandam Consulting

The California Department of State Hospitals is the nation’s largest inpatient forensic mental health hospital system, employing approximately 12,000 staff and serving, according to 2015 data, more than that many patients annually. When the California DSH IT leadership chose Shandam Consulting in 2020 to design a major wireless network upgrade – with a three-year budget of $43.5 million – the objectives were ambitious, and the challenges were significant.

Critical Assignment

To deploy an Electronic Health Records application that supports mobile telehealth treatment, the Department’s legacy network needed to be improved and expanded for medical-grade wireless communication. This translated into predictive coverage planning for one of the largest wireless networks in California – over 10,000 access points in hundreds of buildings representing 6.6 million gross square feet of space across five sprawling hospital campuses on 2,600 acres of land. In addition, providing the additional bandwidth and power required for the new wireless network demanded a corresponding upgrade to the wired network.

Unusual Challenges

This already complex project was made exponentially more so by the constraints of an unprecedented global pandemic, the impacts of which raged at full force during the project. The secure treatment units for which the network had to be designed were in quarantine lockdown. Many of the Department’s key IT and executive contacts were working remotely, creating barriers to collaboration and communication. Proposing network equipment was another wild card, as supply chain delays promised continued impediments to every industry across the worldwide economy.

Strategic Foundation

The team at Shandam Consulting, with notable engagement from their DSH IT counterparts, cleared these hurdles with an exceptionally detailed strategic approach throughout the project. As Shandam founder Scott Howard is often heard to quip, “Hope is not a strategy.” Accordingly, Shandam addressed every aspect of the effort in detailed planning and reporting tactics that articulated every decision, every task, and every technical consideration, including:

  • Color-coded design “heat maps” to illustrate relative signal strengths at wireless access points across indoor and outdoor facility locations.
  • A master decision matrix to track the purpose, responsibility, and status of nearly 200 separate client decisions.
  • Bi-weekly reports that provided granular detail on status of tasks, resources, issues, dependencies, and budget.
  • Monthly burn reports tracking task status and billings against contract budget.

Successful Outcome

Utilizing this robust Aruba wired and wireless infrastructure design, the completed network will service a total of 6.6 million square feet of indoor space and many hundreds of acres of outdoor space. It prioritizes optimization of airtime, safe interaction with existing Personal Duress Alarm Systems (PDAS), and enhanced capacity mobile device support in key treatment areas. The satisfaction of delivering this solution is even greater because, thanks to the exceptional support DSH provided throughout the project, Shandam was pleased to complete it in advance of its 2.5-year schedule, for less than its $1.5 million budget. And thanks to Shandam’s position as a fully-independent solution designer – as opposed to an equipment reseller – the Department is now confidently poised to secure bids for seamless implementation of the design.

About Shandam Consulting

Established in 2001, Shandam Consulting is a technology consulting firm that does not sell anything apart from our expertise. In this role Shandam has advised government agencies, utilities, community colleges, and school districts on how to stabilize, optimize, and maximize their investments in Information Technology.