Author: Emily Arnold – Content Strategist, Sangoma
More often than not, schools are operating on tight budgets and have to make tough decisions when purchasing technology. That’s one reason why so many schools are still using outdated phone systems. But this can have unintended negative implications for schools, such as the financial drain from supporting archaic and inefficient technology, communications that are unreliable, and campuses that remain disconnected. However, Unified Communications (UC) systems can change the narrative for educational institutions.
Because UC is VoIP-based, it can reduce overall communications costs for schools (sometimes by as much as 60%). And it can also reduce overall technological costs by integrating multiple technologies into one system. Most people think of phone systems as just a means for executing incoming and outgoing calls, but UC systems can be used for so much more.
One unique way that schools, in particular, can benefit from a UC system is its ability to facilitate intercom and paging communications. This enables schools to solve the issue of disconnected campuses with one solution while ultimately alleviating budget constraints by eliminating unnecessary spending.
Here are three ways schools can use UC for intercom and paging needs.
Broadcast Announcements over IP Phones
K-12 schools often need to make announcements across entire campuses and sometimes even across entire school districts. A technology often found in IP phones called multicast enables K-12 schools to use their phone system to meet this need.
Multicast is a computer networking concept that allows data to be sent to multiple places at one time. Because IP phones are technically small computers on a network, they are able to take advantage of this technology. Multicast allows someone to press a button on their IP phone, then begin speaking to broadcast the message to multiple locations. Users have the option to broadcast their message to every phone on a network, specific phones, or even specific phones across networks. Additionally, it provides users with the flexibility to override current phone activities to ensure that the announcement is heard.
Multicast is an excellent feature for ensuring safety and security across schools. In the event of an emergency, such as a lockdown or an evacuation, notifications and instructions can be communicated clearly and at one time for everyone.
Make Outdoor Notifications with IP Speakers
While IP phones are an excellent way to make announcements indoors, UC systems can also be used to make outdoor notifications. IP horn speakers, for example, can be SIP endpoints that register to a UC system. Through the use of multicast, the speakers can broadcast messages, alerts, and more to a wide area. This is another excellent security feature that can keep staff and students safe wherever they may be.
Use IP Phones as Bell Systems
Another way UC systems can be used to eliminate unnecessary technologies is by utilizing IP phones for school bell systems. Many schools use old, analog bell systems with speakers located only in hallways. Using IP phones reduces tech infrastructure and guarantees that each classroom has a bell located inside the room that can be easily heard. The Carey School, for example, used Digium IP phones and API for writing custom scripts to create their bell system.
School phone systems are no longer only beneficial to office workers. Now they can benefit the entire school – from students to staff. To learn more about what UC can do for your school, download the Switchvox for Education guide.