Case Study: Down District Council

How we help Down District Council meet local needs whilst preparing to share services with other councils.

The Problem

Down District Council (DDC) is the second largest district council in Northern Ireland, with a population of 68,000. It aims to achieve 80% citizen satisfaction across all the services it delivers, and its mission statement is, “Improving the quality of life for all of our people”.

Like many local authorities in the UK, DDC faces the challenge of delivering service enhancements whilst cutting its spending. In Northern Ireland specifically, the number of councils is being dramatically reduced from 26 to 11 by the year 2015, meaning that consolidation is a key priority.

As part of the combined processes of rationalisation and improvement, DDC needed to move its head office to the Downshire Civic Centre, a larger building with more modern facilities. Its communications infrastructure at its old site, which consisted of a legacy telephone system and voicemail platform sourced from different suppliers, was not able to accommodate these changes.

DDC needed a new communications solution to help them provide a better experience for citizens, with the flexibility and scalability to handle future developments.

The Solution

storm® provides DDC with a cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) solution for their new headquarters. This helps the council to provide more services to citizens under one roof, making it easier for people to get to the information they need across a range of departments such as planning, environmental health and leisure.

Because storm PBX is delivered over IP, DDC did not need to rent costly traditional telephone lines for the new site, and can eliminate all its ISDN infrastructure going forward to make incremental savings. In addition, storm makes it much easier for DDC to configure its communications, saving time for valuable IT personnel and freeing them up to focus on important projects.

Finally, DDC is better prepared for the oncoming process of consolidation, because it can migrate additional sites onto storm without the capital cost of new hardware. Colleagues and citizens will ultimately be able to call or be transferred across all of DDC’s sites for free, including its 5 leisure centres and arts centre. These economies of scale will only continue to improve as the council merges with its neighbours within the next two years.

The Problem

Down District Council (DDC) is the second largest district council in Northern Ireland, with a population of 68,000. It aims to achieve 80% citizen satisfaction across all the services it delivers, and its mission statement is, “Improving the quality of life for all of our people”.

Like many local authorities in the UK, DDC faces the challenge of delivering service enhancements whilst cutting its spending. In Northern Ireland specifically, the number of councils is being dramatically reduced from 26 to 11 by the year 2015, meaning that consolidation is a key priority.

As part of the combined processes of rationalisation and improvement, DDC needed to move its head office to the Downshire Civic Centre, a larger building with more modern facilities. Its communications infrastructure at its old site, which consisted of a legacy telephone system and voicemail platform sourced from different suppliers, was not able to accommodate these changes.

DDC needed a new communications solution to help them provide a better experience for citizens, with the flexibility and scalability to handle future developments.

The Solution

storm provides DDC with a cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) solution for their new headquarters. This helps the council to provide more services to citizens under one roof, making it easier for people to get to the information they need across a range of departments such as planning, environmental health and leisure.

Because storm PBX is delivered over IP, DDC did not need to rent costly traditional telephone lines for the new site, and can eliminate all its ISDN infrastructure going forward to make incremental savings. In addition, storm makes it much easier for DDC to configure its communications, saving time for valuable IT personnel and freeing them up to focus on important projects.

Finally, DDC is better prepared for the oncoming process of consolidation, because it can migrate additional sites onto storm without the capital cost of new hardware. Colleagues and citizens will ultimately be able to call or be transferred across all of DDC’s sites for free, including its 5 leisure centres and arts centre. These economies of scale will only continue to improve as the council merges with its neighbours within the next two years.

Before

After

Citizens had to call separate numbers to get through to the right council service, and colleagues responsible for answering those enquiries had to be in the office. Citizens can reach services much faster using a single number and storm®’s intelligent routing. As the service grows to encompass more sites, the experience for the citizen improves incrementally.
It was awkward for colleagues to collaborate, because they were all at different sites using separate communications systems, which meant they were being limited in their productivity. Colleagues can log in from any location using a soft or hard phone and see who else is available, whilst always being reachable on the same number, helping them to work more flexibly.
DDC’s communications infrastructure at its old site consisted of a separate telephone switch and voicemail platform which had to be integrated together and managed separately. Administrators can manage telephony, voicemail and conferencing on a single platform, enabling them to make changes in minutes which would previously have taken days.
DDC had separate ISDN lines and WAN connections into every site, duplicating its telecommunications costs and making it difficult to operate efficiently. Both voice and data are delivered over IP, eliminating ISDN costs and the maintenance costs for old hardware, as well as enabling DDC to scale the service quickly as its needs evolve.

How it Works

  1. DDC’s old site had separate telephony and voicemail systems, with dual resilient connections into both the public network (PSTN) and their corporate wide area network (WAN)
  2. storm® delivers enquiries to the new site over DDC’s WAN, eliminating the need for costly ISDN infrastructure and providing both soft phones and advanced IP handsets for council colleagues
  3. Remote workers can twin their mobiles with their storm PBX licence and be available just as if they were in the office
  4. Enquiries are delivered to home workers over the internet, and web-based management portals can be accessed from any location.
  5. storm has resilient connections into fixed line, mobile and IP networks, ensuring that citizens can always get through to DDC.

“In anticipation of the upcoming transformation of the landscape of local government in Northern Ireland, we need to make sure we are properly prepared for the challenges ahead. With a significant investment required for the facilities at our new headquarters, we had to look for ways to keep as much capital as possible available, whilst taking opportunities to reduce our operating cost. storm®‘s cloud unified communications solution enables us to become more efficient in the way we collaborate, and makes it easier for citizens to get to the service they need. It also means we will be better able to share services with other councils while respecting the fact that every local community has a unique set of needs.”
Councillor Mickey Coogan, Chairperson, Down District Council

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