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CSD is exploring this possibility through the St. Louis Regional Exchange Collaborative

By Dr. John Urkevich, Executive Director
CSD was recently part of a meeting led by David Sandel, Executive Director of the St. Louis Regional Exchange Collaborative (REP), which serves as a regional exchange point – a local Internet access method that streamlines and improves the efficiency of the way data is exchanged between service providers, businesses, and residents of the St. Louis region. As shared on their Web site, “the REP principally functions as a regional broadband hub to assure quicker, more secure, and less expensive processing of Internet communications and services, much the way that river port authorities, railroad stations, airline hubs and interstate highways ease the flow of traffic while simultaneously lowering costs and improving services.” There are 22 member organizations in the St. Louis REP Collaborative. CSD is working with the organization to explore a possible plan to include K-12 school districts as members.

As we continue to work closely with the REP, some potential benefits to schools in our area include: cost reduction and improved efficiency for IT services such as video surveillance, disaster recovery, server consolidation, storage consolidation and voice over IP (VoIP) services, and increased learning opportunities through partnerships with local institutions. Examples of such partnerships include students having access via videoconferencing to live surgeries in local hospitals, or establishing business incubators in schools by working with local firms.

You may question: Isn’t this type of videoconferencing already available? Yes, it is. However, our interest in the REP includes the need for expanded bandwidth and wireless capabilities within all schools. While individual school districts are expanding their bandwidth, potential membership in the REP could leverage these individual efforts to gain substantial savings on school districts’ future technology investments. In addition, access to St. Louis-area institutions for shared learning opportunities could enhance the type of learning that already exists in our schools.

The need to invest in infrastructure is critical. As we prepare students for the global workplace, technology integration in the classroom is essential. The REP is attempting to enhance our infrastructure which allows for greater technology integration into education at a lower cost to schools.

We have just begun to explore this initiative in detail. As we get deeper into its development, we will involve school district personnel in our planning. Until then, I encourage everyone to learn more about this collaborative by visiting the REP Web site at: http://www.stlrepcollaborative.org.

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