Gila County, Ariz., Saves Time and Money With New Voice/Data Integration Tool

The Gila County, Ariz., Courthouse is using a new Cisco Systems Inc. router to help connect smaller departments throughout the region. The new network system is expected to save the county money by reducing long-distance telephone charges, while the enhanced videoconferencing made possible by the system will reduce the cost of transporting prisoners.

The county was hit with an increase in telephone costs after telecommunications deregulation, when a call from one end of the county to the other was rated a long-distance call. The addition of the routers, a wide-area network and improved videoconferencing will enable remote state offices to save money on telephone calls and prisoner transport, said Tom Homan, senior systems analyst at the Gila County Courthouse.

"It's allowing us to go in and open discussions with departments that previously were not connected," Homan said.

The Cisco 1750 modular access router will enable the county to integrate voice, video and data information across the court system, said Mike McIver, systems engineer for Cisco Systems' state and local division. "The common infrastructure requires less to manage, maintain and train people on," he said. "It provides a more flexible tool for high-speed technology in a cost-effective manner."

The new router is in place in the Gila County Sheriff's Department and soon will be rolled out to a police agency, but that location has not been determined yet, Homan said.

The Gila County router, a Cisco model 1750 that starts at $1,795, has been up and running for about two weeks. Inmate transports cost Gila County about $30,000 per month, including vehicles, officers and other incidentals. "We've seen a long-distance cost reduction, and we expect the videoconferencing ability will drop our inmate transport costs by about 10 percent," Homan said.

The county's court system serves about 700 people and Homan expects long-distance savings of $17,000 systemwide.

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