For this development, the College needed an entirely new system supporting a converged voice and data infrastructure in order to provide its students, teachers and staff with cutting edge technology facilities. As the existing campus was still in use, seamless migration from the old systems to the new environment was crucial. With this in mind, the College began searching out technology partners with top notch migration experience, a track record of providing fully integrated solutions, and the IT and communication vision to take its network into the future.
Walsall College selected systems integrator Amillan – an Alcatel-Lucent premium business partner – to devise a migration plan for moving staff and equipment from the old buildings to the new Wisemore campus. Central to the design of the new campus, Alcatel-Lucent’s IP telephony server was chosen as part of a £1.4m project to provide more than 1,000 users with internet-based communication services. Based on the College’s migration objectives, Amillan drew on its extensive experience of transition projects and infrastructure requirements – from cabling and switches to handsets and applications – and utilized a wireless laser link to realign the legacy Ericsson MD 110 PBX from the old site to the new campus, saving the College a staggering £25,000 in short-term lease line fees.
“Seamless migration at minimal cost was our primary objective on this project – with its extensive experience of migrating legacy systems to Alcatel-Lucent offerings and an in-depth knowledge of educational institutions’ infrastructure needs, Amillan was the perfect fit,” said Deb Rajania, project director at Walsall College. “We’re committed to transforming the local economy through industry-focused skills and knowledge, so we needed technology partners with that same level of dedication to the job.”
Based on Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniPCX Enterprise platform, the College’s new converged communications infrastructure allows for the quick and easy deployment of multimedia applications – such as unified communications applications (from any location, on any device) and web conferencing facilities – across the Wisemore campus.
“With a converged IP infrastructure at the core of the new campus, Walsall College now has the optimum platform on which to deploy new technologies and applications easily and effectively – for both staff and students,” said Stuart Taylor, account manager at Amillan. “Enhancing the learning experience in this way helps the College attract talent and bring out the best in its pupils, both now and in years to come.”
Through the installation of category 6 structured cabling and a wireless LAN solution, the integrated nature of the College’s new communications infrastructure also allows for the incorporation of key security systems including IP CCTV, access control and building management systems, providing a safer learning environment, greater visibility and the ability to respond more quickly to security incidents on site.
Furthermore, Amillan was also tasked to deploy a digital signage solution with 88 LCD screens to push information from the College’s scheduling and information systems across the Wisemore campus. Outside each teaching area an LCD monitor displays pertinent and timely information on the classroom schedule as well as providing advertisements and RSS news feeds.
“Delivering a fully integrated communications solution, both on time and to budget, was essential to the success of this project,” added Rajania. “Working closely with Amillan from the start has meant we’ve achieved this, plus a greater level of integration across the campus, while Alcatel-Lucent’s simplified, standardised technology has provided us with a first-rate teaching and learning environment necessary to develop the ideas, skills and ambitions of our teachers and students.”
Walsall College is also planning to extend the deployment further with the installation of Alcatel-Lucent’s contact centre solution later on this year. Set to provide a more dynamic approach to call-handling, the College will be able to run a ‘seasonal’ contact centre during the busiest times of the academic year – such as student registrations at the start of term – ensuring that operators maintain high levels of customer service regardless of call volume.
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