Sheldon College responds rapidly with unified comms

Thursday, 04 November, 2010

Sheldon College has successfully implemented a campus-wide unified communications system, with a fully integrated critical incident notification and response system from Mitel.

Sheldon College is an independent, non-denominational, coeducational college catering for students from Kindergarten (Pre-Prep) through to Year 12. The college also boasts a 2000-seat sport and entertainment centre with full catering facilities. Sheldon College employs 210 academic and corporate staff supporting a student population of in excess of 1500 students.

Dr Lyn Bishop, Principal and founder of Sheldon College, commented, “Our college aims to provide a 21st-century, high-quality education for students based on traditional values and progressive thinking. Our use of computer-based teaching technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, so we decided to modernise our campus network. As part of that upgrade, we implemented a Mitel unified communications solution to help us communicate more effectively, whilst at the same time reducing our ongoing costs.”

To support the needs of their 58-acre campus, Sheldon College deployed Mitel Communications Director running on the Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP). The entire solution was designed and implemented by TTGroup, a Mitel premier partner based in Brisbane. TTGroup provides ongoing remote management and support for the college data and voice infrastructure.

Project planning commenced in July 2009, with installation occurring in March 2010. A high-speed gigabit ethernet fibre network backbone was installed between buildings, with Mitel handsets and Power over Ethernet deployed throughout the college buildings. A large-scale 802.11n wireless LAN was simultaneously deployed, allowing flexible access to the college’s computer systems for both staff and students.

In order to further improve the efficiency of communications and reduce ongoing running costs, the Mitel Applications Suite (MAS) has been implemented by the college. Installed onto a single server, the applications in MAS allow the college to easily produce reports, track phone usage and help identify ways in which call costs might be reduced. In addition, MAS enables teleworking capabilities and the ability to seamlessly link mobile phones with desk phones, thereby making it easier for teachers and administrators to work when away from their office desks. The system now allows staff mobile phones to be linked to their desk phones, with calls routed automatically based on the time of day and the staff member’s work schedule. This ensures that staff can be easily contacted when working away from their desk, without the need to give out private mobile phone numbers.

Bishop continued, “We are always looking at ways to become more productive, and maximise the time our staff spend with students. Our Mitel unified communications solution has helped us to improve our handling of parent phone calls, with an automated enquiry system which sensibly directs calls to the most relevant and available person. Some enquiries can now be dealt with fully automatically, with notices such as sporting fixture details read to parents via the computer.”

Mitel Unified Communicator Advanced and Mitel UC Advanced Softphone have been deployed to the computers used by administration and teaching staff. Phone calls can now be made by simply clicking on user names in a single organisation-wide phone directory. Presence information shown in the directory makes it easy to determine whether a colleague is at their desk, busy or working from home. The Mitel UC Advanced Softphone allows laptop users to make and receive phone calls directly from their laptops, either via the campus wireless LAN or by using their home broadband internet service.

The college has used session initiation protocol (SIP) to tightly integrate its Mitel IP-based communications solution with a Benbria BlazeCast critical incident notification and response system. The integration allows sophisticated delivery and tracking of critical multicast messages via Mitel handsets, mobile phones and loudspeaker systems located around the campus. This enables administrators and teachers to rapidly issue emergency notifications using predetermined action plans, while instantly tracking responses from staff across the entire campus.

Bishop commented further, “Every school needs to plan for emergency situations. By integrating our Mitel handsets with the campus emergency response system, we are now able to accurately deliver messages to any point in our campus, whilst tracking responses with confidence. This has helped us to deliver a safer campus environment for students and staff alike.”

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