VOIP's second act

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Commerce Department officials realized the agency's emergency warning system didn't work. Largely dependent on an antiquated and unreliable public address system, agency officials couldn't reach their staff quickly enough to keep everyone safe.

"It was a bad situation [in] that we couldn't communicate with employees," said Karen Hogan, Commerce's deputy chief information officer.

During the past three years, Commerce officials have worked to solve the problem. If an emergency were to threaten people at headquarters today, staff members would hear special alerts delivered via their phones.

Thanks to a new software application that runs in conjunction with the agency's voice-over-IP (VOIP) network, IP speaker phones emit emergency broadcasts. Since the application's introduction two years ago, Commerce officials have not had to use it for an emergency. Nevertheless, it's paying off in peace of mind, Hogan said.

The application, from Berbee Information Networks Corp., is one of a number of new tools that are helping take VOIP to a new level. Federal, state and local agencies are routinely adopting the new technology, which merges voice and data through a single IP network.

VOIP followers are discovering a new world of second-generation applications that surpass anything POTS

About the Author

Alan Joch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire.

Featured

  • People
    2021 Federal 100 Awards

    Announcing the 2021 Federal 100 Award winners

    Meet the women and men being honored for their exceptional contributions to federal IT.

  • Comment
    Diverse Workforce (Image: Shutterstock)

    Who cares if you wear a hoodie or a suit? It’s the mission that matters most

    Responding to Steve Kelman's recent blog post, Alan Thomas shares the inside story on 18F's evolution.

Stay Connected