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Success Story – Mesa Community College Improves Emergency Response

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Located in the booming East Valley of Mesa, Arizona, Mesa Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the nation with over 27,000 students attending classes at 2 main campuses and 2 satellite locations. Students attend both day and evening classes. Additionally, the campus offers extracurricular and co-curricular activities as well as a full array of inter-collegiate athletics. We spoke with MCC Director of Technology Bill DeHaan about overseeing a school of this size, “Maintaining the college’s voice and data infrastructure is quite a daunting task, made much easier by the addition of Cisco VoIP and Syn-Apps suite of applications.”

Previously, Mesa Community College had a traditional TDM phone system, with over 1000 digital phones and 400 analog phones, making moves, system additions, and changes quite challenging. That coupled with the inability to provide emergency services, call accounting, and inventories made life within their prior TDM world even more cumbersome. The campus has a commitment, not only to its faculty and staff, but to its student population to provide state of the art technical resources. With disparate systems including voice, video, wireless, surveillance, and radio, Mesa looked to its technology partners to integrate their systems. “Given the ever changing technology and social landscape we face, and shrinking budgets, and knowing that voice services and public safety issues are not MCC IT’s core strength, we forged a very strong partnership with Cisco and Syn-Apps to help bridge that gap.” says Bill DeHaan.

Syn-Apps Solution

Mesa Community College enlisted the help of Syn-Apps to enhance the Cisco Telephony and Wireless solutions they deployed. Based on Mesa’s needs – Reliable phone service, ability to reach faculty and staff in case of an emergency, and the need to effectively communicate with campus security. “We deployed Syn-Apps SA- Announce SAInform, and Cal l Alert applications. The solution was enabled using a Syn-Apps application server at MCC’s main facility co-located with Cisco Systems Call Manager Publisher. Now Mesa uses a single platform for voice and wireless communication. The campus has deployed a mix of Cisco 7960 and 7970 IP Phones. “In an effort to reach out to sister Maricopa colleges, MCC actually has deployed VoIP and emergency services to a smaller cohort of phones at three of the other Maricopa schools.”

Mesa installed the Syn-Apps applications in May 2003 with no interruption to phone service. It took just a few minutes to train employees how to use new features such as Single Touch Emergency Access, 2 way audio and text paging and 911 incident notifications. “Our users feel much safer knowing that we have the ability to broadcast campus wide notifications and, in the event of 911 calls, have instant notification to our college safety staff, regardless of location.”

The Syn-Apps suite of applications has eliminated the need for external intercoms, as well as other subsystems in key areas such as event notification, college-wide information, inventory management, and call accounting.

Next Steps

Next steps for Mesa Community College include external IP speaker integration for emergency announcements, potential integration within digital signage infrastructure, as well as application development integrating Peoplesoft applications and the Cisco 7970 touchscreen telephones. Also in the works are corporate directory enhancements, integrating images, as well as other applications integrating our student databases, such as SMS paging services.