said Golden. "This gives you some flexibility. Of course, it isn't the best of all worlds, but it is sufficient. In a disaster, it is certainly usable."

Golden offered two reasons they implemented wireless internally. First, since the premises were being rented only for a short time, the owner still wanted to use it as a restaurant once the court moved out. That meant not running a lot of cable. Second, the county wanted to get the court operational as quickly as possible.

"We had the wireless network up and running in less than an hour," he said. "In fact, we had the network up before they had all the furniture in place."

The setup had virtually all the functionality of the old courthouse, including clerk and magistrate stations complete with computers and printers, as well as a cash register.

For both security and connectivity, Golden used the Cisco Aironet 802.11b wireless LAN, which allows easy creation of freestanding all-wireless networks.

Rapid Response

Configuring the wireless network was familiar territory, Golden said, because five courthouses in the state have run wireless systems for nearly a year and a half, and another four or five courthouses are doing building-to-building wireless.

Although cost was not the biggest factor, going wireless saved the county money as well.

"The laptops cost a little bit more," said Golden. "We don't normally use laptops for clerk functions. However, it definitely cost a lot less than it would to hire contractors to come in and run cable through the restaurant."

Golden couldn't give an exact figure on what the county saved, but said the savings were substantial. As well, hardwiring the temporary courthouse would have delayed the setup considerably.

Golden also said the county has been looking at wireless installations for a while, but responding to Hurricane Isabel this way laid some groundwork for future recovery efforts.

"Looking back at it, we got thrown into the fire a little bit on this one," he said. "Now, if another courthouse was to fall into a similar situation, we feel we could respond quicker. It took us about a week or so to really decide what to do. The county spent most of that time trying to find a location.

"Once they established a location and let us know, we probably still could have responded even quicker," he said. "Now we've got a pretty good disaster recovery plan that would be sufficient for the relocation of any courthouse after a disaster situation."

Blake Harris  |  Contributing Editor