Intelligent CIO North America Issue 25 | Page 58

CASE STUDY so that citizens can more quickly get the answers they need to work with the County ’ s emergency operations center ( EOC ) during the pandemic and hurricane seasons .
With the pandemic , the EOC has been at some level of activation in excess of a record-breaking 610 days .
“ We need that agility in order to rise to the occasion as different needs come up ,” said Taylor .
Since modernizing its system , the County has been able to flexibly pivot as various situations arise .
“ One of the first things we realized when we got the new phone system was that most of our offices didn ’ t need a receptionist anymore thanks to the ability to direct dial ,” said Taylor . “ Because of this , we were able to reallocate those positions to fill other needs of the organization .”
The rise of work-from-home also spurred the need for a more intuitive , easy-to-use phone system .
Leon County had to rapidly move to get most of its employees working from home efficiently as COVID-19 spread .
When the County instituted a fire services fee , it was able to quickly set up a contact center dedicated to taking calls and questions from the public ( why the County is implementing the fee , how it will affect the public , etc .).
The County was able to tap existing workers across various offices to take these calls versus hiring new employees for a dedicated call center , saving costs while delivering a better experience for citizens looking for specific answers and information .
During Hurricane Hermine , the privately funded ‘ 211 Big Bend ’ experienced a power outage and generator failure . 211 Big Bend provides 24 / 7 human service information and assistance and provides emotional support , crisis counseling , suicide prevention , and information and referrals .
They were invited to setup temporary shop in the Emergency Operations Center and in less than an hour , the call center was operational on the County ’ s Avaya platform , assuring those critical services could continue for Leon County citizens .
Streamlining and centralizing communications
Modernizing created night-and-day differences across all of Leon County ’ s departments in terms of how work gets done . Prior to the upgrade , each department had its own dedicated receptionist who would take calls and announce over an intercom which employee had a call on which line .
The receptionist couldn ’ t transfer calls and employees couldn ’ t even call directly to each other ’ s desks .
“ No matter who the call was for , you ’ d hear the receptionist announcing calls all day long ,” Taylor said .
Naturally , this affected workers ’ ability to focus and get things done .
“ We had to quickly and safely transition our workforce , yet we still had our main numbers being advertised to the public and phones still had to be answered ,” Taylor explained .
This could be anything from a question about trash pickup to requests for injunctions for domestic abuse , to suicidal calls where individuals may pose a danger to themselves or others .
“ Whatever the need , if our citizens are calling , we must be able to connect with them ,” said Taylor .
Using Avaya , the County was able to quickly meet its work-from-home needs by providing remote workers with soft phones on laptops and VPN IP phones that could be securely connected to home networks . Employees could work just as efficiently as if they were in-office while providing the same level of service callers expected .
One mobility feature that the County has found extremely useful ( especially with the rise of COVID and remote work ) is EC500 Avaya , which directs calls to a user ’ s desk phone to also ring in synchronization to another line such as their home number or mobile phone .
“ This is something we have always had the ability to do , but it has become huge since COVID hit ,” Taylor explained . “ Before EC500 , so many times , I have not been in my office – either being in a meeting or another building – and I have missed an important call . There would be some days I wouldn ’ t even make it into the office because I was working from another office location . The mobility features are a real benefit for us .”
In addition to mobility features and remote capabilities , Leon County Sheriff , Florida State University , and the Tallahassee Police have created The Real-Time Crime Center . This acts as a ‘ shared resource center ’ among the organizations that are stationed at Florida State University on the Avaya platform .
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