Inflow Communications has been awarded the Beaverton School District (BSD) Unified Communications contract that will significantly improve student safety
Inflow has embarked on installing ShoreTel Voice over IP (VoIP) Communications technology into Beaverton School District (BSD). The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016 and will encompass about 5500 handsets across the District’s Administration Building and 52 high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
The District’s telecommunications infrastructure consisted of various models of aging, unsupported Northern Telecom (Nortel) phone systems. The systems presented a huge liability to the District due to the age and diminishing reliability of the equipment. Repair parts and services were getting increasingly difficult to procure. A school left without reliable communications is a huge problem.
The District needed more than a simple phone system replacement. The District required a holistic communications system that dramatically improved upon student safety. The existing 911 call routing and emergency response notification was inefficient and simply didn’t work. A 911 call placed from a high school could result in emergency responders showing up at the Administration Building. Furthermore, the old systems had no internal emergency notification capabilities that could quickly alert key personnel, internal or external, to emergency situations like school lockdowns, threats, or 911 calls. With the recent, unfortunate school shootings throughout the country, this set of features became paramount for the District in their evaluation of various phone and Unified Communications solutions.
The Inflow Communications solution includes installing a single ShoreTel VoIP system across all locations for inter-school four-digit dialing, presence, and one intuitive web administration console for all sites. Next-generation color gigabit IP phones will be installed throughout the District and the design includes carrier-class, solid state servers, deployed at all sites that work together as a single phone system. Should any server fail, redundant servers anywhere on the network, at any location, could take over processing duties for the failed site. Inflow recommended consolidating all District phone lines into two, redundant, aggregation points. This will save a significant amount of money in telecommunication costs as well as provide an added layer of dial tone redundancy. Beyond basic Enterprise phone system services, Inflow’s solution incorporates advanced mobility applications for roaming workers, Unified Messaging, and audio and web conferencing. Last, it provides a plethora of other communication applications specific to K12 education like scheduling and Do Not Disturb (DND) override for classroom teacher phones, call recording, and automatic outbound dialing campaigns for community outreach functions.
The focal point, however, was the solution’s safety features.
E911: Inflow implemented a specialized E911 application that dramatically improved the Districts 911 capabilities. Because the District is moving from a “hard-wired” phone system to a Voice over IP system, phones can be easily moved by staff between classrooms, different buildings, or even different schools. The new 911 system dynamically tracks these movements and keeps a record of the phone’s physical location, down to the utmost detail including building, classroom, cube, etc. This ensures that emergency responders always arrive at the exact location the 911 call was placed, significantly improving response times and accuracy.
Emergency Notification Application: In addition to improving the 911 systems and external notification, The District needed a more robust system to track 911 calls and all types of emergencies for rapid internal notification. The emergency notification capabilities of the ShoreTel Unified Communications system provides for automated screen pops, text-to-speech messaging capabilities, and automatic dialing to key District safety staff should somebody dial 911 or signify another type of emergency. The system can announce and display exact location information and any other predetermined message that needs to be conveyed, depending on the nature of the emergency. This system can also be used for non-emergency notifications like janitorial or special needs assistance.
Lockdown and other Emergency Automated Procedures: BSD was most interested in implementing a system that could initiate a series of automated, predetermined, actions, if a lockdown event occurred. In the event of a lockdown, any user could enter a code on any ShoreTel IP phone throughout the District. The phone will warn the user by announcing “you have entered a lockdown code. To cancel, press any key. Otherwise lockdown events will commence in three, two one…”. The ShoreTel system can then initiate overhead pages with pre-recorded messages that instruct the students of that school that a lockdown is in effect, return to your classrooms, and shut and lock the doors. Additionally, the system can make internal and external calls with prerecorded messages indicating that a lockdown is in effect as a specific location. Last the system can initiate screen pops to predetermined computers displaying the same information. The messaging, sequence, and actions are all customizable based on the location the lockdown code was initiated. This allows District safety personnel to determine logical messaging and actions ahead of time, as opposed to having to remember lockdown protocol while under duress.
Inflow Communications President commented on the project. “We’re excited to partner with Beaverton School District; BSD is a very forward-thinking organization as it pertains to technology. Not only is it a great project for our talented team, enhancing K12 safety feels very good”.
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