IT's Scott Valcourt Honored by Gov. Maggie Hassan

IT's Scott Valcourt Honored by Gov. Maggie Hassan

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Scott Valcourt, UNH IT’s director of strategic technology, received an award from the governor last week for overseeing the completion of a project that brought 865 miles of fiber optic cable to New Hampshire residents through Network New Hampshire Now.

And while the nod from Gov. Maggie Hassan is appreciated, Valcourt says he’s apt to benefit from the project as much as anyone.

“Just in terms of the public safety side—the day might come that I have a medical problem and it’s likely the tools that will be used to treat me will run over these fibers I helped put in place,” Valcourt says. “The impact of this project is going to be so long-lasting; it will outlive me and my staff.”

The $34 million project, one of the largest fiber networks in the country, created a middle mile network (a segment of a network that links a smaller network to a larger one) in areas of the state where there was little to no access to affordable broadband, connecting all 10 of New Hampshire’s counties. 

state map

An example of what that means to peoples’ lives comes in Valcourt’s comment about his future health. Here is another: doctors in rural parts of the state can now participate in Dartmouth Hitchcock’s grand rounds, viewing charts, and x-rays and scans, via video conferences.

“This is something many rural doctors could not participate in because they couldn’t go to the hospital. It provides health care professionals what they need in the changing landscape in the tele-health world,” Valcourt says.  “Using UNH’s (videoconferencing network) ConnectNH, the same tools that help doctors learn from each other are the same tools that students across NH use every day to prepare for the jobs of the future.”

Tax forms offer another example: The IRS no longer supplies communities with printed forms; they must be downloaded online. The new broadband access means people or businesses that have a printer can print whatever forms they need.

“The heart of the project was to get connectivity to those who didn’t have,” Valcourt says. “It benefits economic development; education. It is really changing what we do and how we do it. As the landscape changes, as the world changes, all the components of this project give New Hampshire the ability to participate and expand into what comes next.”

Led by the University of New Hampshire, Network New Hampshire Now was brought together by the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development with guidance from the Governor’s Telecommunications Advisory Board (TAB), and the 2008 New Hampshire Broadband Action Plan.

Valcourt was the principal investigator on the project, the buck-stops-here guy when it came to everything, including budgets and timetables. He also wrote the grant that secured the $44.5 million in economic stimulus money from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that funded the broadband expansion.

“It was the longest, most complex project I’ve ever led,” Valcourt says. “It’s the kind that comes around in one’s career only once.”

The governor’s citation reads, in part, “For the past three years, your exceptional leadership has brought together numerous public and private partners to upgrade our broadband services, developing a valuable strategic asset for our state….The State of New Hampshire is grateful for your work in helping build a stronger, more competitive Granite State.”