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Unified communications helps police force drive efficiency while becoming more agile
Hertfordshire Constabulary used to run separate voice and data networks with individual contracts – expensive to manage and making it difficult to adapt to constant change.
In moving to a converged IP environment, Steve Taylor needed to mitigate risk and ensure uninterrupted service. BT professional services and project management helped assure that trouble-free transition. Standard architecture and re-use of legacy equipment saved money and meant everything worked perfectly together.
Now Hertfordshire Constabulary has the network flexibility and cost effectiveness it needs for a dynamic future.
The extended team worked in an agile fashion, largely through the skills and energy of the BT project manager. Managers felt well informed and connected with the project at all times, which gave enormous peace of mind.”
- Steve Taylor, Assistant Director ICT, Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary
Hertfordshire Constabulary, like all police forces, relies heavily on ICT to better and more cost effectively serve the public. Until recently it had run separate voice and data networks with individual contracts.
Steve Taylor, Assistant Director ICT, Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, explains: “Our legacy architecture did not offer the flexibility to easily accommodate the constant organisational changes faced by police forces today.” Furthermore, running parallel networks incurred excessive costs in terms of management time and administrative effort.
Expiry of its data network contract presented the perfect opportunity for the Constabulary to migrate to a single BT-supplied ICT services contract. “Moving to a new technology platform needs careful risk management,” continues Steve Taylor. “Any break or disruption in service would be unthinkable.”
Hertfordshire Constabulary had used BT-maintained Nortel Meridian PBXs in most of its 30 police stations, interconnected over a dedicated voice network. BT proposed upgrading the headquarters Meridian system to an Avaya CS1000 High Availability call server. That would operate as a unified communications platform, distributing IP-based voice services to around 3,000 local and remote extensions.
The Avaya-based IP telephony solution offered investment protection through equipment reuse and user licence migration. “We saw cost and risk advantages in such an approach,” confirms Steve Taylor, “and interoperation between old and new gave us complete confidence that the solution would be deployed with no disruption to end users.”
Voice traffic is now converged with data traffic over the Constabulary’s wide area network (WAN). This was built using BT Ethernet Connect services at speeds of up to 1Gbps. For additional resilience, certain remaining Meridian systems became local gateways to the public telephone network. This ensures continuity of service in the unlikely event of a catastrophic WAN failure.
Hertfordshire Constabulary decided on a phased site-by-site transition over an 18-month period. But, before deployment could begin, the Constabulary needed to upgrade local area networks (LANs) to support IP telephony. “We engaged BT Professional Services to help us redesign our Cisco-based LAN infrastructure,” says Steve Taylor. “BT gave us very relevant advice and the BT consultants did a great job.” BT also supplied much of the Cisco LAN equipment necessary for the upgrades.
BT IP telephony and WAN services are now combined on a single contract running to 2015, simplifying contract administration and delivering better value.
Hertfordshire Constabulary looks back on a very successful project. The legacy technology worked in harmony with the new IP telephony solution throughout. For users the changeover was seamless, with no difference in dialled numbers. In fact, the only visible change was a brand new IP telephone on their desks.
BT project management was a highlight. “Issues and action points were progressed in advance of a weekly project call,” recalls Steve Taylor. “This avoided the need for wasteful face-to-face programme board meetings.”
The business benefits are clear. With reuse of existing equipment, savings on dedicated voice services, and lower equipment maintenance charges, the Constabulary has updated its network without substantial penalty. Steve Taylor concludes: “The project has been cost neutral. With the help of BT we have an agile IP-based infrastructure with the flexibility to manage future business change.”
In fact, IP telephony is a key enabler for more flexible working and staff relocation is simple. Just plugging phones and computers into new sockets is all it takes, with no engineering required. That means that teams can be instantly formed and reformed to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s policing.
- BT Ethernet Connect
- BT One Enterprise Avaya CS1000 HA unified communications and IP telephony solution
- BT One Enterprise Cisco LAN equipment
- BT Advise professional services for project management and network design consultancy