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GCN : January 2013
24 GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM In 2010, Summit County, Ohio, and the cities of Ak- ron and Barberton decided to merge their separate public health agencies into a single department. The consolidation took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, with the creation of Summit County Public Health. "And then the fun starts," said Cory Kendrick, the depart- ment's information systems manager. "You have three sepa- rate entities with separate IT systems and separate telephone systems, so how do you bring that together?" Change is never easy and after its first year the con- solidation remained a work in progress, but in that time the combined agencies realized a savings of about $1.5 million, a significant chunk of that is coming from the new IP tele- phony system from Digium Inc. that replaced legacy analog PBX systems. With savings in maintenance and line fees ex- pected to be $100,000 or more a year the Digium Switchvox VOIP system is expected to pay for itself within four years. A report from Kent State University on the first year of the consolidation identified IT and telecom as one of five ma- jor operational challenges to the consolidation. "These conversions required re-tooling more than 100 com- puters and setting up new back-up systems, as well as es- tablishing new phone numbers for employees and establishing inter-operability across phone systems in multiple facilities," the report said. "While these PROJECT: Consolidate one county and two city public health agencies into a single department, comprising 260 employees, 350 phone lines in 11 locations. Replace Nortel PBX system. TOOLS: Switchvox VOIP platform, commercial version of Asterisk open source VOIP system. UNEXPECTED HURDLE: Managing phone numbers for three agencies that each had been operating independently until 2011 turned out to be surprisingly complicated. BEST NEW FEATURE: "Ability to run reports and see where we're having problems." ROI With savings in maintenance and line fees expected to be $100,000 or more a year new VOIP system is expected to pay for itself within four years. When Summit County, Ohio, consolidated three public health agencies, Voice Over IP was the only sensible choice for replacing legacy telecom systems HOW VOIP MADE A DIFFICULT IT CONSOLIDATION EASIER CASE STUDY