Worcester Academy Case Study
Worcester Academy implements ShoreTel UC to help ensure a safe environment and modernize communications
Aging system, multi-building campus
Worcester Academy needed to matriculate from an end-of-life NEC 2000 PBX system and worn analog cabling to a cohesive, unified communications structure.
Unify and expedite communications
Worcester Academy straddles many buildings and parcels of land across the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. With an expansion effort in play, the school was focused on revamping the existing communications system to unite disparate buildings and create a campus environment.
“We didn’t have telephones in the classrooms and wanted to initiate a systematic way to call, page, and contact emergency services from anywhere,” says Drew Forsberg, director of IT at Worcester Academy. “The old system was reaching a point of archaism—we were limited in our telephony options and even the cabling was deteriorating. The time to renovate our communications infrastructure was now.”
Worcester Academy worked with ShoreTel partner AmeriCom to strategize about the best way to update its communications. Forsberg wanted to ensure campus safety by installing telephones in all key locations on campus, including classrooms and dormitories, and erecting call boxes.
He also was interested in extending beyond traditional PBX offerings with VoIP to gain greater cost efficiencies and tools for communicating with features such as emergency calling from any phone into a central service and Web-based paging capabilities. The caveat for any solution selected was the ability to install the new system without having to take the legacy system offline.
“AmeriCom worked with us to plan out the entire system, but we needed to bring it altogether in a very short period of time. We had only weeks to select, validate, and deploy a communications system before school started, and considered solutions from Cisco, ShoreTel, and a hosting company. While each solution had redeeming qualities, ShoreTel offered a better overall package and pricing with a straightforward architecture and seamless paging application. We had confidence in our vendor and the speed of deployment of the ShoreTel system,” explains Forsberg.
ShoreTel IP UC gets the highest grades for best overall solution
The ShoreTel solution chosen by Worcester Academy comprises a ShoreTel IP Unified Communications system, using ShoreTel Voice Switches to connect the buildings on campus, and more than 170 ShoreTel IP Phones to enable crystal-clear interaction among callers. The ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application and ShoreTel Enhanced Paging Application extend native functionality of the ShoreTel system to generate and automate crucial alerts and batched calling.
Delivering a shallow learning curve and steep benefits
To make the transformation to UC across the Worcester Academy campus, Forsberg worked with AmeriCom to deploy a non-centralized infrastructure, installing five ShoreTel Voice Switches across the 11 buildings to support reliable communication with ShoreTel IP Phones. ShoreTel solutions are designed from the | ground up with a fully distributed and redundant architecture, and no single point of failure to ensure high availability of systems throughout the campus.
“WE DIDN’T HAVE TELEPHONES IN THE CLASSROOMS AND WANTED TO INITIATE A SYSTEMATIC WAY TO CALL, PAGE, AND CONTACT EMERGENCY SERVICES FROM ANYWHERE.”
Drew Forsberg, Director of IT
“AmeriCom steered us through the whole project from concept to final implementation, and continues to support us on the new system. There was not much of a learning curve with the ShoreTel system. Our old phone system was harder to manage and didn’t have the flexibility of ShoreTel Director, the system’s intuitive management interface. We especially like the ShoreTel architecture and impressive range of features. Now we have the ability to unite communications and provide better security across the campus,” says Forsberg.
Worcester Academy selected the ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application to enhance the native E-911 functionality already built into the ShoreTel solution. Now Forsberg and his designees can receive real-time audible notifications on desktops and phones whenever a 911 call is initiated anywhere on campus. “The application creates a call log of all the emergencyrelated activity, including the extension where the call is placed and other important details. More importantly, the school is now able to mobilize security resources in the way that best ensures the safety of students and teachers,” he adds.
In addition to the emergency notification application, Worcester Academy customized the ShoreTel Enhanced Paging Application to include many external paging horns. “It’s a distributed solution that allows for flexible paging options, particularly for sending out to groups of more than 100 members. We tied all the paging back into the phones to extend the volume of paging groups. It’s been really easy to set up and to support,” states Forsberg.
Matriculating to simpler, smarter communications
Worcester Academy was able to kick-start its new school year with streamlined communications across the entire campus. “Teachers are so grateful for the accessibility from anywhere, and we all feel safer knowing that the classrooms and dorms and other buildings are reachable via the interactive tools such as caller ID, paging, and emergency services. We’ve needed these features for years and now we have them,” says Forsberg. From a savings perspective, Forsberg was able to eliminate the need for expensive re-cabling and additional personnel to manage the new phone system. “Before deploying ShoreTel, we had to dedicate one staff member to just handling the phone system. The ShoreTel system is so reliable that I am able to roll that responsibility into the course of my own day and reassign staff elsewhere,” he explains.
In the near future, Worcester Academy plans to fully integrate its ShoreTel UC system with the school’s predominantly Mac computer environment. “We have all the tools and support necessary to integrate the Macs and the phones. Mac integration will greatly simplify how we communicate and add to the cost efficiencies. we’ve already seen since implementing our ShoreTel solution,” he concludes
“TEACHERS ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THE ACCESSIBILITY FROM ANYWHERE, AND WE ALL FEEL SAFER KNOWING THAT THE CLASSROOMS AND DORMS AND OTHER BUILDINGS ARE REACHABLE VIA THE INTERACTIVE TOOLS SUCH AS CALLER ID, PAGING, AND EMERGENCY SERVICES.”
- Worcester Academy needed to modernize its legacy telephony with communications technology that would integrate caller ID, paging, and emergency 911 services across 11 buildings on a 10-acre campus.
- ShoreTel provided ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application, and ShoreTel Enhanced Paging Application.
- Unify and expedite communications
- Caller ID and paging
- Ease of implementation
- Emergency notification capabilities