E911 Solution Aids Cardiac Victim Within First Week of Deployment
When the State of Montana upgraded its unified communications systems to Avaya, it didn’t expect to need the 911 capabilities it had recently brought online so soon. But when an employee showed signs of cardiac arrest, the time it took for emergency services to arrive may have been the difference between life and death.
As with many enterprise and commercial organizations, the State needed to replace the legacy Multi Line Telephone Systems (MLTS) systems that were nearing the end of their useful life. While the telephone devices still functioned, some of the back room equipment dating back to the 1980s had started leaking battery fluid and posed a danger. Additionally, the legacy carrier T1 circuits that supported the 10,000 phone lines and 20 PBXs no longer made the best use of taxpayer funds for this connectivity.
At a high level, the State’s unified communications system was anything but unified – rather, it was a siloed architecture that utilized hundreds of separate databases. Additionally, it lacked the remote access capabilities that the current users required. From a maintenance perspective, whenever a problem surfaced, a technician from the Montana State Information Technology Services Division (SITSD) was required to physically travel to the location to complete the assessment and repair. This could take several hours or even days, depending on the time of year and weather conditions. SITSD quickly recognized the benefits that a modern unified communications system would deliver and identified a unique opportunity “to do more with less” using new solutions that would provide significant cost savings. At the same time, SITSD realized they could further increase system resiliency and reliability by centralizing the solution in a data center and adding a backup data center at a separate location. This flattening exercise would also provide them the opportunity to convert from circuit switched T1 services to new carrier-based SIP, saving tens of thousands in taxpayer money annually. Once they decided to implement this new cost savings vision, SITSD chose a slate of Avaya products to fill the needs of the new design.
Choosing a Cost-Effective Unified Communications System
From the beginning, Voice Architect Jeff Unger was challenged with spending taxpayer dollars prudently while still finding the most effective solution for the State. With a career history in the private sector, Unger had previously used Avaya and held a level of appreciation for the quality and longevity of the products. Based on this experience, he solicited pricing for an Avaya solution, in addition to two other competitor systems for comparison. In the end, the factor that ultimately swayed his evaluation was the cost-effectiveness he was able to obtain moving from Nortel to Avaya Aura®; based on recycled user licensing, the State realized an incentive by installing new Avaya communications solutions. After completion of the installation, the State was able to receive a credit back on licensing, which significantly lowered the total cost of the new system. Additional savings were realized from the SITSD team, as they already understood and had the skillsets to support the Avaya products because of their similarities to the previous solution.
“With the two systems now integrated through Avaya System Manager, SITSD could go live with one phone, building, or floor at a time seamlessly, without the end user even noticing,” Unger says. “We could go live during the day, requiring a lot less resources on our side and no interruptions on the user side.”
During the project, SITSD also planned to migrate to a seven-digit internal dial plan, merging the 13 different plans that existed on as many PBXs into one. This migration would allow users to easily dial each other directly, eliminating the need to use an outside line. Dialing would be similar to users using a home phone, using 1 plus ten digits to call outside the area code. In addition to simplifying the process, SITSD was able to eliminate toll calls made within the State to other offices.
As another part of the project, SITSD wanted to provide for an emergency response system that would be able to more effectively handle 911 calls in the facility. The current systems were creating an excessive administrative workload, and costs were spiraling out of control. Unger and his team researched the available E911 options and found that 911 Secure was very responsive to the State’s needs. Additionally, the team at Avaya presented the added benefits the 911 Secure Sentry E911 solution delivered when coupled with the Avaya Aura platform and the Avaya ability to leverage specific device location-based discovery mechanisms and onsite notification to provide an effective and affordable solution. Monthly operational cost reductions were realized by consolidating and centralizing all 911 call routing utilizing specialized VoIP Positioning Carrier (VPC) services that provided control over the solution that using a SIP carrier alone wasn’t able to provide.