Western Australia's Disability Services Commission (DSC) has flagged plans to implement a state-wide videoconferencing system to facilitate better staff collaboration.
The commission provides services to the state's disabled population -- more than 400,000 individuals at last count in 2006. DSC last reported staff levels of 1,585 -- with most of those located in metro areas and the rest scattered throughout WA in small offices.
"The requirement of providing better communication and better interpersonal contact between staff across offices has led to the need for the implementation of a multimedia video-conferencing system for the country areas and some metro locations," DSC wrote in tender documents recently released.
The new system will also be used to facilitate some client services -- for example to provide assistance with the training of parents of disabled children.
The commission currently has a number of "legacy" Polycom H.323 video conferencing units in place. However, while that hardware uses dedicated ISDN lines for data transfer, DSC's new system will be based on Internet Protocol (IP) communications.
"DSC has 26 regional offices with staff numbers ranging from one to nine staff members per site," the tender documents said. "There are existing units at six of the commission's country sites. It is estimated that a further 50 facilities will be required in this first stage of infrastructure deployment. These would vary from a basic single user desktop camera and associated software, to systems capable of catering for larger group meetings."
DSC has specified that the system it introduces must be fully compliant with open industry standards.
"Systems or components of systems that make use of proprietary protocols, standards or enhancements in order to provide additional features or enable delivery of required functionality will not be considered," the commission wrote.
The commission expects its videoconferencing system to be SIP-based, following RFC code 3261 and utilising the H.323 standard for local area network videoconferencing and H.320 for legacy ISDN-based videoconferencing.
The system will need to be compatible with DSC's Microsoft Active Directory staff database and Outlook e-mail suite. It will also integrate with the commission's disparate PABX telephony systems -- from vendors Nortel, Alcatel and Panasonic.
The commission's e-mail and voicemail services may be integrated with the videoconferencing infrastructure.