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.

Improving safety, outbound 911 calls are now easily identified by location and administrative personnel can monitor such calls through the interactive Switchvox Switchboard interface. Through the district’s innovative integration between the Switchvox and the intercom system, the local police department can listen into each classroom’s intercom during an emergency situation.

With the Richardson TSI installed system, staff members can easily ‘drag-and-drop’ calls and even monitor and direct emergency situations when necessary. “The Switchboard’s cross-platform functionality is a must,” explains Driskell. “Our environment is 90 percent Mac, and the competing switchboard application only ran on Windows.” Nearly 20 administrators utilize the Switchboard application extensively to route calls through the district. “Our users love the Switchvox Switchboard application,” notes Driskell.

Results

Richardson TSI’s installation of the Multi-site Switchvox solution has enhanced communication, integration, and school safety for the 2700 students and 500 employees in UCSD. With more Certified Electronics Systems Technicians than any competitor in the country and unmatched training services, Richardson TSI was able to provide UCSD with a seamless integration process that generated immediate rewards.

“Everybody is amazed at how seamless and easy our new system is to use,” says Driskell. With a wide array of built in features, the Switchvox platform is an excellent choice for educational environments on tight budgets. “Richardson TSI provided a dynamic communication and safety solution, enabling UCSD to expand our resources and maximize outcomes,” says Driskell.

About Richardson TSI

Located in Suwanee, Ga., Richardson TSI is a leading provider of integrated technology solutions in education, healthcare and government in the state of Georgia. For more than 40 years, Richardson TSI has dedicated its efforts to providing creative solutions, superior products and quality customer service helping to streamline hospitals and schools and enhance their overall efficiency. Richardson TSI connects people through technology, providing dynamic communication and safety solutions, enabling clients to expand their resources and maximize outcomes. For more information regarding Richardson TSI, please visit www.richardsontsi.com.

About the Author:

eSchool News