The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) plays a behind-the-scenes, but critically important role in protecting the public health of millions of Americans. The agency protects the food supply, works to lower the incidence of pathogens that cause foodborne illness and limits contamination. Beyond serving this essential function, FSIS also educates the public about protecting the food supply, safely handling food and responding to food supply outbreaks.

To that end, inspectors at every food processing facility around the country depend on an efficient, reliable and fast broadband network to digitally track food safety inspections and prevent outbreaks. Raju Shah recently upgraded the network food safety inspectors rely on to report safe or unsafe conditions, track a facility’s safety record and determine the source of contamination.

Shah undertook this important transformation to improve food safety, prevent food contamination and because outdated agency technology couldn’t keep pace with today’s application demands, particularly in dispersed field offices. Cloud technology and other bandwidth-hungry applications are congesting traditional telecom infrastructure. While the challenge to transition to this new infrastructure may have felt daunting to many agency leaders, Shah focused on providing the best solution for the agency – and that meant making the switch to broadband.

FSIS specifically is a widely dispersed agency that’s demonstrating the potential for technology to radically improve end-user experience, better support critical government functions and further the agency’s mission to promote and protect the U.S. agricultural supply. The wide area network or WAN, is instrumental in evolving the strategic direction for FSIS and USDA. These upgrades better enable the agency to procure next generation technology.

Inspectors are responsible for uploading the data daily to a centralized database to enable them to say a given facility is safe for the day or the week. The impact to the public cannot be overstated. While inspections are once or twice removed from the public’s view, they are critically important and rely heavily on the efficiency and speed of the network to deliver alerts about contamination and get a facility up and running again once there has been a violation. This impacts jobs, local economies and international commerce.

Regardless of where these inspections take place – from border crossings, to airports to overseas facilities – FSIS demands the reliability of a broadband network. FSIS’s new broadband network delivers twice the bandwidth at one third of the cost and uses an infrastructure that works best with the agency’s many remote sites.  

The immediate benefit of this achievement is a better, faster more secure network at one third of the cost.  The long-term impact that benefits citizens beyond those who rely on USDA, is that many other agencies are watching how USDA, specifically FSIS navigates this network transition. This is due in large part to its designation by the General Services Administration (GSA) as a “lighthouse agency” that will guide other agencies along the path toward network modernization. USDA and FSIS under Shah’s guidance, will offer solutions to agencies’ biggest network challenges on issues including cloud adoption, customer experience and more.