CHALLENGE

QPC Security has been the full services information technology engineering and architecture partner to Christian Life School (CLS), a preschool thru K12 school, since 2008. As such, they supported all of their technology infrastructure, including the phone system.

Prior to 2017, CLS was using an extremely old phone system that was no longer supported by the vendor nor could changes be made to meet the school’s current needs. The school also needed to improve on other technology-related items including a school lockdown solution, updated bell system, better integration with surveillance systems, and improved physical access control. While CLS could have taken an approach of getting individual bids from separate providers to deliver on these items, the approach they took was to leverage their relationship with QPC Security to gain access to vCIO and vISO (virtual information security officer) services to develop an overall technology strategy plan. CLS had discussions with other school systems that had tried to tackle similar problems on their own by talking to point solution vendors. Their feedback was that approach resulted in a disjointed, disconnected mishmash of disparate technologies provided and supported by multiple vendors. Traditionally, internal IT does not have the time nor skill sets to play vendor manager, master integrator, and security architect. As a consequence, their overall digital security posture is weakened. CLS knew the only way they could afford a high quality, high functionality, and low TCO solution that they could manage in-house was to have an overall solution that was architected and engineered by someone who understood their organizational needs and had the expertise to design a fully integrated solution.

SOLUTION

After the initial project discovery discussions, Felicia proceeded with her typical approach of fully researching the solution. She does not take a one-size fits all approach and invests the upfront time needed to ensure that she is developing the right fit solution for each scenario. She also tapped into her extensive list of industry contacts to identify the limitations and problems associated with various technologies. From there, she developed functionality requirements lists which could then be vetted against existing technologies.

Specific to the phone system, QPC Security worked with CLS to obtain bids for replacement phone systems A bid was obtained from the school’s sister organization’s phone system provider. Other bids came in at $60,000 and $48,000. Felicia immediately identified that there were integration, support, and cost problems with all the of the presented bids. Ultimately, she determined that there was no viable way to get the outcomes CLS was looking for unless QPC Security built the overall system. QPC Security has always been mindful of the school’s support model and budget constraints and had previously designed systems that CLS could manage as much as possible with their internal IT team in a truly co-managed IT scenario. For example, they have been able to have extremely high-quality data cabling and networking which otherwise it would not have been possible due to budget constraints. QPC Security trained the CLS team on how to do data cabling, including fiber optic installation and termination, so that they can do all of their own installations using internal their internal staff.

The proposed solution included the following components:

  • Switches with multicast paging
  • PBX with desk phones
  • Traditional PBX functionality including complex call queues, IVRs, and call routing
  • Door controllers with access pads, relays, and cards
  • Video door stations
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Servers with VMS and audio manager software
  • IP speakers
  • Network layer security appliance
  • WAN-side IP addresses for hosting the PBX
  • IP trunks

In comparison, the other PBX solution providers were not able to offer a system that was fully integrated including:

  • Ability to in-house manage the majority of the solution while still having escalation support as needed keeping TCO low
  • School lockdown solution that is controllable from the VMS, the PBX, or from panic buttons with fully customizable pre-recorded messages as well as the ability for live messages
  • School security officers being able to monitor the campus in real-time and control the school lockdown solution from anywhere, anytime, using their authorized devices
  • Customized zones for messages for upper school, lower school, elementary, or the entire campus
  • Ability to have the message (live or recorded) play on all IP desk phones and IP speakers
  • School lockdown overrides normal door function until cleared by school security officers
  • No limitations on the number of extensions or desk phones that can participate in the system
  • Significantly reduced monthly voice call costs from $700/month to $100/month
  • Text messaging interaction with primary phone number to be able to send text messages to offsite personnel or parents
  • Web meeting capabilities with recording and whiteboarding functionality for up to 250 participants
  • E911 compliant functionality

For security, the school security officer or anyone with the proper access into the VMS can click a button and initiate a school lockdown procedure. Doors now lock causing ingress restriction, and the playing of a prerecorded message. The security officer can then press a microphone icon in the app and issue any live message through all IP desk phones and IP speakers across the campus. The unlock or all clear can also be initiated from the VMS app. All of the same functions can be performed from the phone system app using special codes thereby providing diverse and redundant functionality.

From a cost perspective, the custom designed phone system had an all-in implementation cost of $25,000 which included labor, handsets, documentation, and training. Ongoing costs are less than $3,000 per year and are inclusive of backups, licensing, monitoring, voice call phone services, and proactive management. As a result of the overall savings, CLS had the funds to implement an IP speaker solution as well as a door control solution. Also, the solution is highly supportable over time as every component is supplied by best-in-class hardware and software manufacturers who provide software and firmware updates and warranty contracts for the hardware as appropriate.

IMPACT

QPC Security had a meeting with the executive management team and school security officers to go over the solution prior to go-live. Executive management expressed their pleasure over having a fully integrated system which met all of their needs and stayed within their limited budget. The primary school security officer said, “I am extremely impressed with the competency and feature set of this solution that QPC Security has engineered and implemented for us.”

To learn more about Master Integration Services offered by QPC Security, contact us today.