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South Downs National Park Authority

swcomms helped South Downs National Park Authority move into its new headquarters with the deployment of a unified communications solution that unites its five sites and its mobile workforce.

South Downs National Park Authority is responsible for promoting the purposes of the national park and the interests of the people who live and work within it. It is the UK’s newest national park having been designated its status in 2010 and is the most populated national park, home to more than 110,400 people inhabiting 1,600km2 of vibrant working communities from the ancient cathedral city of Winchester in the west to the bustling market town of Lewes in the east.

When the South Downs National Park Authority was created in 2010, it began life as a relatively small team that used a 10-extension Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Office telephone system installed by swcomms. In the following four years, the team grew both organically and physically with the addition of services, such as planning and maintenance, extra staff and acquisition of remote sites and depots. The Authority was moving into new headquarters in a converted grade-II listed building and wanted to take the opportunity to invest in new IP telephone system that would accommodate its extra staff, including its mobile employees, and offer enhanced functionality to streamline its working practices and enhance its customer service in the process.

IP telephony for 130 users
swcomms was invited to take part in a tender process for which we carried out a careful cost analysis to ascertain whether an upgrade of the Alcatel-Lucent system would be viable or if in fact the deployment of the Mitel Connecr and SIP lines would be more cost effective. The latter proved to be the case. The deployment of the Mitel solution meant a complete migration to IP telephony for 130 users, using the data cabling within the new headquarters and the Authority’s existing leased line network. This single solution has united their five sites and leveraged the investment made in their data network while also providing a single point for connectivity per desk.

Mitel Connect is designed specifically for IP use and therefore can easily accommodate extension moves, adds and changes as and when they are needed. It is also totally scalable in design and has the flexibility to grow with the Authority having an ultimate capacity of 20,000 users. The central system is housed at the new building with the remote sites and depots simply having remote extensions that all use the same feature-rich handsets and benefit from the same functionality as the head office. The Authority’s staff now use full UC capabilities including presence, instant messaging, voicemail-toemail and conferencing which includes desktop and document sharing. These features were important to the Authority so they could communicate with colleagues across all their sites without wasting time tracking them down and travelling to meetings. They use the Mitel desktop GUI to operate telephony and UC features, allowing them to multi-task to enhance productivity.

The Authority already had a LifeSize video conferencing (VC) solution so swcomms recommended the use of the Mitel UC video client for remote members of the staff to link into it from their desktops to expand its VC meeting capabilities and to maximise their initial investment. These Mitel UC video clients are able to link up with VC solutions at other national parks to collaborate with colleagues across UK without spending time and money on travel. The head of the Authority was supplied with a handset with audio conferencing capabilities with HD audio quality required for radio interviews.

Some staff members were provided with the Mitel mobility solution whereby they use smartphones as extensions of their desk phones. They use Mitel’s mobility app on their device of choice – Apple or Android – to access all the functions of their desk phones, such as accessing the company directory and transferring calls, as well as UC capabilities including presence instant messaging and video, to maintain office efficiency while on the move. One number will contact these mobile members of staff whether they are sat at their desks or are working elsewhere in transit. By embracing a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, the Authority does not have to pay for hardware as their staff are using the devices they have chosen to use in their personal lives…and they do not have to carry two phones as they can choose to operate their devices in work or personal mode.

SIP trunk migration
To complete the cost effectiveness of the solution, swcomms migrated the Authority's traditional landlines to SIP trunks taking across all their existing numbers to maintain their established contact details. This migration served to reduce their call costs as SIP uses the internet as part of the call process. swcomms’ fraud management service protects the Authority from having to pay extortionate bills in an incident of dial-through fraud. The fraud management service limits any liability to £750 per incident per number.

The entire solution was effectively project managed including liaising with contractors and connectivity suppliers, while also carrying out an IP audit to ensure the data infrastructure was suitable for VoIP telephony. Installation was followed by onsite user and administrator training including instruction on Mitel Director which allows the Authority’s IT team to make adds, moves and changes without calling in engineers to ensure a low total cost of ownership.

Leon Aylmer, the Authority’s ICT lead, said: “Office relocations can be very busy and sometimes stressful for ICT teams but I found swcomms very helpful, professional and courteous. They were very flexible with how they managed their day and worked with or around me to suit my requirements. I found this very refreshing.”

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