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These are some of the possibilities that the hospitality industry is starting to
deploy. The key was the realization that this is more than just a phone. When the
industry’s expectations increased, the discussion with its vendors and partners
moved away from phone features to impacting business initiatives for the hotel.
K–12 Education
Schools are among the earliest adopters of IP telephony, and this sector
continues to raise the bar in terms of business-impacting applications. Although
this might be a bit surprising, it makes sense considering the type of organization
a school actually is:
A school district is a safe haven where parents send their children for up
to eight hours a day during the business week. Of course, children receive
an education, but they also are supposed to be in a secure environment.
A high emphasis is placed on security. Events in recent years have only
heightened this as a priority.
A school district is a public transportation system. It provides a
scheduled pick up and delivery of “customers”; in this case, children.
A school district is a multifranchised restaurant. Each school in the
district has a cafeteria that provides two meals a day for its students.
Finally, schools must hire and retain excellent college-educated profes-
sionals to educate children, and do all this based on taxes raised and
diminishing government budgets.
Thinking of a school in this context, it is an organization with a number of
challenges most people have never considered. A transportation company has its
own challenges. A restaurant has its own issues to deal with. Combine these two
into a single entity, add the need for a high level of security, the education factor
and diminishing budgets, and you have an organization with significant
challenges.
Chapter 5: Focusing on the Few
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As a result of these challenges, a wealth of new applications exists that are
geared toward helping schools navigate through the daily issues presented to
them. New applications can provide better ways to do the following:
Notify parents and teachers if buses are running late
Ensure that progress reports end up in the possession of parents
Help parents and teachers communicate
Control student loitering in the halls
IP telephony can address all these issues, and is doing so in many schools
today. It begins with those schools seeing IPT as more than just a phone system.
The electronic hall pass, which was detailed in Chapter 4, “If This Isn’t a
PBX, What Is It?,” helps address the issue of student loitering. However, security
is increasingly becoming a major initiative for public schools, and they are looking
at IP telephony solutions as a means of enhancing security. One example of school
security concerns is the bomb threat.
The bomb threat is a definite reality for public schools today. Two years ago,
a fairly affluent school district in north Texas closed two weeks early for the
summer because of the number of bomb threats they were receiving. School
officials suspect that many of these threats were ruses from students to force the
school to close. Yet, because of recent tragic events involving students, schools can
no longer assume that these calls were merely student pranks.
How can IP telephony help schools deal with this issue? Let’s take the
example of Mrs. Wright, a high-school history teacher in a suburban school
district. The district recently rolled out IP telephony to the classrooms, either in
the form of new IP phones on the teachers’ desks, or in the form of IP SoftPhone
software running on their desktop PC. The teachers are excited because they
finally have the ability to make and place calls from the classroom. In reality, they
have much more.
A call comes in during Mrs. Wright’s free period. During regular teaching
hours, the blocking application would not let any calls come through except from
the main office, unless an emergency occurs in another classroom. In that case, the
teacher calling Mrs. Wright could enter an emergency override that would
supercede the traditional time-of-day blocking feature available for most
classroom environments.

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