Cook County Chief Information Officer Greg Wass was joined on April 27 by South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association (SSMMA) Executive Director Edward Paesel to announce the successful start of the Chicago Southland Fiber Network (CSFN) project. The project is funded by the “Illinois Jobs Now!” capital construction program and includes a $10 million commitment from Cook County along with the state’s $6.1 million investment. The complete CSFN project will consist of 60 miles of fiber optic backbone and lateral infrastructure linking south suburban municipalities, public safety sites, community colleges, economic development fiber optic access sites, and two major Cook County anchor locations - Markham Courthouse and Oak Forest Hospital.  The fiber optic infrastructure will be used to provide backbone connectivity to the SSMMA communities bordering I-57 and other key sites in the corridor, establishing access to high capacity Internet services.  This will include access to the Illinois Century Network (ICN), which is used for education and public institutions, and dark fiber resources for both public and private entities, which is used for point to point or multi-point network and data applications. “I’m happy to see the progress we’re making on the CSFN project, and looking forward to continued collaboration with the state and south suburbs to use this new infrastructure to advance business enterprise, healthcare and education in the region,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. The CSFN project has already achieved a major milestone. SSMMA, the Illinois Department of Transportation and ICN have coordinated the installation of over 90,000 feet, or approximately 65 percent of the duct support needed for the CSFN along the I–57 corridor.  The project has received a number of IDOT construction permits and other permits are in progress. “The early success of this project is an excellent example of the benefits of leveraging state and county funding and the benefits of collaboration among the Illinois Office of the Governor, Illinois Department of Transportation, CMS’s Illinois Century Network, Cook County, Northern Illinois University and SSMMA,” said Ed Paesel, executive director of SSMMA. Economic development is a driving force behind this project.  Broadband is an essential requirement for growth and provides the capability to compete in the global economy.  CSFN will help create jobs in the region by providing existing business and industry with links between multiple sites and high bandwidth links to the Internet and centralized data center resources.  The CSFN will provide high bandwidth connectivity to teaching hospitals, health information exchanges, enhance ICUs, and will connect with other statewide and national networks. “The CSFN will extend ICN connectivity deeper into the community, and as the ICN builds out its own public fiber ring around the state, it will reduce internet service provider (ISP) costs to the County and SSMMA members, as well as other Illinois governments who will be able to take advantage of cost effective, high speed broadband services within the next year,” said Cook County CIO Greg Wass. The CSFN project is the first step in building a broadband infrastructure for the 21st century in the Chicago Southland. This state-county-SSMMA collaboration is a committed partnership and will provide a positive impact on the residents and businesses of Cook County, as well as the state of Illinois.