Cook County Finishes Ambitious $25 Million Unified Communications Project
CHICAGO — (May 9, 2022) This week, Cook County completed its five-year, $25 million project to upgrade its telecommunications system to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Over 21,000 phone lines were replaced over the course of the project.
“Replacing the County’s old phone system represents another meaningful step my administration has taken over the years to make up for the decades Cook County neglected to upgrade its aging technology,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “These transformational efforts, such as moving off the old mainframes, are expensive and take years of hard work, but they’re absolutely critical to our operations.”
“Cook County’s new VoIP solution enhances collaboration opportunities, reduces cost, and ensures compliance with Federal and State laws,” said Cook County Chief Information Officer Tom Lynch. “The new system uses up-to-date technologies that enable new application development and allow for future growth, and it also provides disaster recovery capabilities.”
The VOIP upgrade is significant in terms of Cook County’s technological modernization efforts because it allows the County to consolidate its telecommunications and data infrastructure, instead of using separate lines and switches for each mode of communication. It connects phone, email, and other communication technologies together in a unified system. Users can check voicemail from their email inbox, for example.
VOIP also streamlines the County’s telecommunications operating model so that it only provides support for a single, enterprise-wide system. The new VoIP system also integrates with the Countywide automated voice response system that answers and directs calls.
It allows the County’s Bureau of Technology (BOT) to manage communications systems in the same manner BOT manages software. If an employee must move to a new desk, for example, instead of telecom workers re-provisioning the phone number to the new desk, the employee can just plug in the phone and immediately receive calls.