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article imageMississauga Adapts New IP Telephony Platform from Cisco Systems

By Chris Hogg     Sep 29, 2003 in Business
The City of Mississauga now boasts the largest municipal IP telephony system in Canada. The project involved the transformation of the City’s voice and data networks into a converged Internet Protocol (IP) communications system based on Cisco technology. The Cisco technology, called IP telephony, allows data, voice and video to be transmitted over a single network infrastructure. IP telephony offers promising new capabilities and major cost savings from that of traditional telephone technology by transporting voice as high-priority data on high-speed IP data networks.
The $3.3-million dollar network, which uses Cisco AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) technology, features 2,300 Cisco IP phones at more than 60 municipal buildings throughout the city. The transformation to IP telephony began in June 2002. In addition to delivering up to $700,000 in annual savings, the converged voice-data network is also expected to drastically increase organizational efficiency and employee productivity.
“The convergence of voice, video and data is revolutionizing the way organizations communicate — and the City of Mississauga is setting the bar for municipalities under pressure to do more with less,” says Pierre-Paul Allard, president of Cisco Systems Canada.
According to the City, converging its voice and data networks can lower its cost of ownership by eliminating redundant infrastructure, centralizing administration and simplifying maintenance. The City of Mississauga manages a wide range of public buildings, including libraries, arenas, fire departments, parks and recreation, and administrative buildings.
The City already had an advanced data network, but lacked a centralized telephone system. Before converting to IP telephony, it used a traditional, circuit-switching telephone technology with a series of stand-alone phone systems. In 2002, the old communications infrastructure had become expensive to operate and existing telephony contracts were going to expire, so the City decided on an IP communications solution from Cisco Systems.
One of the features of the new converged communications system will help solve a 911 dialing issue faced by most large organizations. The solution involves a new feature called Enhanced 9-1-1 (E 9-1-1), which automatically provides the location of a phone on the network to emergency services. The City of Mississauga will be the first Canadian enterprise to use this feature, which helps dispatchers determine the exact location of an emergency call, and helps make emergency response more efficient and timely.
The converged communications system also enables a number of productivity-enhancing services: It powers an online employee directory and other directories, such as calls placed, calls received and calls missed. All of these new features are accessible from the browser-screen of the Cisco IP phone.
In addition to eliminating infrastructure, the City can also expect more savings with the new network because the response time for “adds, moves and changes” can be significantly reduced. The converged communications network also allows phones to be moved more easily. On the old system, adds, moves and changes took a minimum of two weeks, but with a converged IP network, it takes merely a couple of days, or even hours to complete. Because the phones are IP-based devices on a converged IP network, employees can simply unplug their phone and plug it in at a new location without having to remap a building’s cable layout, or change a phone’s cross-connects to acquire a new phone number. Instead, an IP phone can reconfigure itself to allow all calls to be automatically rerouted to the phone extension, regardless of where it is plugged in on the network.
“We are seeing a great uptake of IP telephony in the public sector. We’re now seeing many municipalities move forward with IP telephony platforms,” says Barry Burke, regional director of the Ontario Public Sector for Cisco Systems Canada.
Burke says that Cisco will be announcing other cities that are moving to IP telephony in the near future. In addition to other cities, many school boards, colleges and universities are currently adapting to use this technology. Cisco, a pioneer of this system, currently has 34,000 employees working on IP telephony worldwide.
With a constant demand to improve efficiency while cutting costs, many organizations, including the Ontario government, are seriously considering a technology tune-up with IP telephony.
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