School & District Management Opinion

School Improvement RFP of the Week (2): The Next Wave of E-Rate Business is VOIP

By Marc Dean Millot — July 22, 2008 3 min read
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RFPs identify business opportunities, but they are also a neglected primary source for research on k-12 policy and operations. From Monday’s issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: E-Rate Eligible Video Over IP Due July 29, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Georgia

Their Description: The intent of these specifications is to set forth a term contract under which the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) may secure a vendor for the purpose of providing an E-Rate Eligible Video Over IP Solution.

SCCPSS has 7 high schools, 10 middle schools, 30 elementary schools, 7 other educational facilities, and 3 administrative sites. This is a total of 57 sites....

All sites have a minimum of one gigabit Ethernet connection to the WAN.... All SCCPSS workstations and laptops shall be able to access the solution from a web browser with minimal effort. Installation of additional clients is not desired.... It is our strategic direction to have voice, video, and data run over the district network....

Cable Television Content.... The solution is to replace our current analog cable TV distribution system by delivering digital cable television programming via our data network. Initially the solution will provide six concurrent live streams to be fed from our district data center to computers throughout our school district,.... Eventually we will be replacing all of our sites’ existing analog systems with the selected video-over-IP solution utilizing our existing computers and IP set-top boxes....

Broadcasting Live School Events.... The solution shall provide our schools that have Ethernet connectivity with the ability to broadcast live events such as daily newscasts from any area at the site. The selected solution must be easy to move to various locations at school site, must user friendly so that non-technical staff will be to use it with minimal training, and must be housed in a secure, locking cart.

Displays in Common Areas.... Many of our schools currently use a computer with TV out to distribute Power Point slides with announcements to all of their classrooms. We are looking for a way to distribute this information to displays mounted in common areas as well as all computers located at a site. We desire the solution to use the same interface as the one that will be used by computers that are able to view the video-over -IP content.

The solution shall support emergency messaging.... (and) on-site owner training on the operation and use of the system....

The decision to implement this project is contingent upon award to the District of funding from Universal Service Funds (E-Rate).... The Supplier must participate in the E-rate Program and also has a responsibility to educate itself about the Program requirements and timeliness.... If partial funding is committed, the products and services will be adjusted accordingly.... Accordingly, if so, and contingent upon the SCCPSS receipt of a funding commitment from SLD/USAC,... Offeror shall institute a two-tier billing system and shall be required to recover up to ninety percent (90%) of its compensation for such eligible Services....

My Thoughts: I have not seen many of these, although VIOP became E-Rate Eligible in late 2006. See EdTech:

The list of capabilities that VoIP enables includes voice messaging, enhanced data services, number portability, Emergency 911 and... untethered roaming within a school or district. [B]y converging both phone and data onto a single network, it’s possible to simplify system administration and lower operational costs.... VoIP.... allows parents and students to call teachers at any time... (and) automatically routes the message to voice mail.... [T]eachers can use the voice mail system to broadcast their messages to families.... listen to phone messages on a PC or pick up e-mail messages over the phone.... [E]nhanced data services... allow administrators... to send short messages to teachers... [S]chools can wheel IP phones into classrooms so that students can do their research in the classroom.

K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report is a comprehensive weekly web-enabled report delivered by email on Monday. It covers grant and contract RFPs issued by every federal and state education and social services agency and every school district over the internet.

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