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Aviation authority overhauls 'unreliable' comms system

CASA will replace its existing PABX-based system with an IP-based voice comms system

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has flagged plans to replace its existing "unreliable" PABX-based systems with an internet protocol (IP) based voice communication system.

The PABX-based system will be retired to make way for the new system that will include a call centre, unified messaging (integrated voicemail, email, SMS, instant messaging and fax), presence awareness, and integration with existing video conferencing equipment where possible.

"Other features of the solution may include the ability to dial phone numbers directly from your computer and to log on to a telephone handset in any CASA site with your own extension," CASA documents read.

"Users should also be able to route their phone calls through their office phone so that if they are away from their desk they will receive calls on their mobile or Blackberry automatically."

The project will include the implementation of a new IP-PBX system, optional replacement of telephone handsets, the replacement of all call centre hardware and software, the ability to conduct desktop video conferencing, and improved voice over IP (VoIP) services.

The new system will also enable staff to log in at any CASA office location with the same phone number, and integrate the system between telephones and computers including presence awareness, instant messaging and unified messaging for voicemail and email.

According to the agency, the current telephony network is unreliable and suffers frequent phone related outages: "Phone problems directly impact CASA's capability to communicate with its client's [sic.] and have an adverse impact on its professional image, as well as frustrating CASA staff."

It also hampers functionality, as staff cannot access their extensions at different CASA offices and have no ready access to voicemail on their office phone while travelling. The system also lacks the ability to integrate with technologies such as video conferencing.

The new system is intended to improve productivity, particularly for external staff working outside the office, and enable staff to use "soft" phones on laptops while connected to the internet.

The project will be multi-staged, with the telephony aspect scheduled to be fully functional by the completion of the 2011-12 financial year, "if possible".

The plans for the overhaul were initially outlined in September 2010, when the agency identified a need for a new unified communications solution, encompassing the replacement of the PABX systems and voicemail, telephone handsets and the existing call centre system.

The authority last year sought to replace its Aviation Industry Regulatory System (AIRS) IT system with off-the-shelf software to save costs.

AIRS went into production in 2005 and is a central repository for information on individuals, companies and permissions associated with CASA's core customer base.

The system would also allow the department to configure software to provide on-screen alerts at critical processing points to ensure all business rules for items such as licence processing are enacted.

The agency widened its search after the first attempt to secure a solution closed in September.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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