VoIP saves big bucks for school division
Technology assistants L-R Dave Citulsky Jr. and Vasyl Leshchyshyn pictured during Thursday's school board meeting where they discussed the new Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system which was recently installed at La Verendrye and North Memorial Schools. (ROBIN DUDGEON/PORTAGE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
Technology assistants Dave Citulsky Jr. and Vasyl Leshchyshyn spoke to the Portage la Prairie School Division at Thursday’s board meeting about the division’s new Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system which has saved them $130,000 so far.
The Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system is currently installed at La Verendrye School and North Memorial School as an alternative to the traditional intercom system.
“What it is, is using an Internet Protocol. It’s giving a phone in every classroom and direct, private communication between the office and each individual classroom,” said Dave Citulsky Jr., a technology assistant with the school division.
This is similar to Portage Collegiate where you call one phone number and then dial extensions to reach a classroom and a voicemail.
“What it means is we’re using an open source protocol and we’re using what are called unlocked phones, which gives us direct and complete ownership of our system,” said Citulsky. “Where most systems require you to have a service contract, and a company come out and work on it and install it we can do that all ourselves.”
The system will be advantageous to the school for many reasons, including: direct, private communication between individuals instead of talking to the whole classroom; voicemail and voicemail directed to email so no message is missed; as well as allowing any mobile device with an internet connection (iPhone, iPad, Android, laptop) to essentially become a phone as long as it is within the Wide Area Network.
“You can do video, you can do intercom, paging, everything,” said Vasyl Leshchyshyn.
This even applies to those outside the area given they have the correct IP address.
“You can have a direct IP address of the school division where you can dial into this IP address with a user name and password which would allow your computer to have a phone extension through the internet,” said Citulsky.
The VoIP system can even be effective in case of an emergency when it could broadcast out to every school in the division thanks to a paging groups feature.
“If an emergency occurs, if by some chance the schools need to go on lockdown they can do multiple schools at once. Instead of having to call each school and say time to go it would be dial one number all of a sudden you’re talking through every single speaker throughout the entire area,” said Citulsky.
Superintendent Hazen Barrett is very pleased with the new system, as it would not be possible without the newly installed Wide Area Network.
“The whole idea behind having a Wide Area Network is to take advantage of the technologies that are out there and do some front end loading with technology so that you save money at the other end,” said Barrett. “Right now in place of two intercom systems that we were slated to have to replace in the schools this coming year for around $160,000 our guys have been able to install a VoIP system that compensated for the intercoms for less than $30,000.”
If the new systems at LVS and NMS work well there are five our intercom systems in the division which will need to be replaced in the near future as well.
“Those are very expensive items that have to be replaced and they are not items that we can go without,” said Barrett. “We’re very hopeful that these VoIP systems that we have will be able to use them in place of the more traditional intercom systems.”