At A Glance

The city of Baltimore, known for its historic charm, had a communications system that ran on an old infrastructure that was anything but charming. Technology limitations, lack of features, and inconsistent upgrades hampered business activities and processes.

Each of its almost 800 locations had vital systems, with multiple types of services and network connectivity among sites. Even something as simple as a name change required technicians to physically visit each location, leading to average moves, adds, and changes (MAC) work times of up to five days.

Despite numerous agency-centric voice telecommunications activities, the City of Baltimore often saw thousands of low and no-usage lines appearing on invoices, which meant it was paying telephone carriers for unused services. Coordinating support and maintenance to the areas that needed it was becoming more and more challenging.  

Simon Etta, Director of the Department of Telecommunications (Telecom) inside the Office of the Comptroller for the City of Baltimore and a five-year member of the Mitel User Group (MUG) and current Director on the MUG Board, advocates for digital transformation. He prioritizes creative decision-making and charges his team with challenging the status quo.

Goals

In 2015, the City of Baltimore issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to upgrade its legacy phone system. It needed to increase collaboration across teams, upgrade its telecommunications network, and connect government departments effectively and seamlessly. Telcom sought this opportunity to increase efficiency and streamline communications while reducing annual running costs, maintenance needs, and downtime.

The City required a secure in-house communications system that could expand to keep up with growing physical and technological needs while being maintained and controlled by internal staff. Another essential item on the list was a robust call center platform to support the city’s 13 call centers and 450 call center or contact agents.

Results

After an extensive RFP process, and utilizing the Mitel Sourcewell contract for their procurement, the City of Baltimore awarded Mitel a contract to host MiVoice Business and MiContact Center on the city’s private cloud. Mitel stood out to the evaluation committee as a technically reliable, highly secured, and price-competitive solution.

The city has a centralized and scalable VoIP system supporting over 20,000 devices. The feature-rich, remote-capable unified communications (UC) platform proved invaluable for providing essential services to staff, constituents, and the public during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Built on the city’s virtual network, the UC system is supported by resilient SIP trunks with failover controllers. The private cloud keeps 95% of the city’s solutions behind a protective firewall, avoiding hackers and other threats to security. MAC work is now completed in hours instead of days.

Since implementing the new UC platform, the city has seen operational expense reductions through consolidating its contact centers and disconnection of unused circuits. Greater internal control of operating expenses has reduced carrier costs by 75%, saved thousands of dollars in annual maintenance, and returned a yearly cost avoidance of $2 million based on a 12-year TCO. The operational expense reduction is driven under the leadership of City Comptroller Bill Henry. The Comptroller is focused on modernizing and restructuring telecommunication systems to increase efficiency, improve customer service, and prioritize cost-effective solutions.

Mitel is always looking to provide solutions that innovate, create value for customers, and help build relationships.

- Simon Etta, Director of the Department of Telecommunications, City of Baltimore, and MUG Board Member

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