When asked to find a cost-effective communication solution to help the Union County School District resolve two of the most critical issues faced by learning systems today, learning outcomes and safety, Richardson Technology Systems Inc. (TSI) not only found a system that could be seamlessly integrated but also helped the school system increase communication efficiency while decreasing the workload of teachers and administrators with Switchvox Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Evaluating Needs and Challenges

To provide the best learning environment and work experience for its students and faculty, Union County School District (UCSD) in north Georgia needed to update its communications solution to help increase productivity, communication efficiency and school safety.

UCSD needed an efficient user-friendly system that was within its budget but that also would help save costs in the future with the ability to easily adapt and expand with the needs of the school system. The solution also had to be compatible and seamlessly integrated with existing intercoms and paging systems while offering robust features such as voicemail-to-email, district-wide four digit dialing, and location-based 911 services.

Challenges involving the integration of the existing paging systems at each school also needed to be addressed. With the existing paging systems, teachers and administrators were burdened with dialing through multiple systems to reach one another. Problems with classroom interference were also taking place as inbound calls to teachers were directed through the PA system, interrupting the classroom learning experience and reducing student productivity.

Providing a Powerful Solution

Needing an appliance-based solution, Richardson TSI and UCSD decided that the powerful Switchvox appliance family would be the best choice of digital switch systems for UCSD. Bill Driskell, technology director for UCSD, had become very familiar with the Asterisk system and appreciated Asterisk’s ability to integrate with other systems, something that proprietary VoIP platforms were unable to do.


Richardson TSI was retained as UCSD’s technology solution provider and integrator of choice for the installation, training and management of the project.

Richardson TSI deployed an innovative district-wide Switchvox system with more than 230 IP phones, and integrated with each school’s intercom, paging, and classroom phone system. With a Switchvox appliance at each of the five schools and the district office, all of UCSD’s communications needs were met, and exceeded.

Utilizing an existing fiber optic network that connects each school to the district office, each school’s Switchvox integrates with the district office Switchvox appliance, based upon the Asterick operating system, which connects to the public phone network through a PRI. Every classroom’s analog telephone connects to a Rauland Telecenter intercom system, which in turn interfaces seamlessly with the school’s respective Switchvox system. With the new system, teachers can now make effortless calls to other classrooms, secretaries, other administrative staff, and public telephone numbers – something not easily possible with the previous system. With teachers constantly moving from classroom to classroom, Switchvox’s voicemail-to-email feature allows for easy access to important messages decreasing their workload.