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University runs computer-to-PBX interfaces.

Communications are critical in an environment that provides specialized care and programs for patients, gives general medical and surgical care, operates major medical research institutions and offers higher education.

The University of Minnesota campus network integrates voice and data, has a uniform dialing plan, automatic call distribution, voice mail, high-speed local area networks and other services that combine to provide a campus-wide 911 emergency response system, a group alert warning system in the case of disaster and a planned network for off-campus traffic engineering.

The university's telecomm network is entirely digital with the exception of a few analog tie lines. It provides a transparent, uniform five-digit numbering plan to more than 25,000 users across the eight-mile campus. More than 50 T1 lines are dedicated to off-campus communications.

Open architecture

In an effort to serve the diverse and critical needs of the environment, an intelligent link--the Open Application Interface (OAI)--between the PBX and external applications processors has enabled the university to integrate specific applications on its multimedia network.

One of the university's more important applications is a campus-wide emergency 911 system.

Because of the OAI-based campus communications network, anyone on campus can reach the university police, the caller's location is automatically displayed on the dispatch terminal. If the point at which the call originates has been preassigned, the information profile can include the caller's name, location, emergency contacts, medical alerts or other pertinent information as defined by the university. If the call originates from a location with no assigned caller, such as a parking lot emergency phone, the profile will display the physical location of the telephone, allowing for immediate emergency dispatch.

The sophisticated 911 system includes a software program written specifically for the university. The program operates on the university's DEC VAX 6410 system. Async OAI links connect the VAX to InteCom's multimedia network (two IBX S/80+ and one S/80 PBX networked together), which enables the systems to exchange control messages. Connections from the VAX to the display terminals are nailed (logical hardware) via the multimedia network using data modules called asynchronous data interfaces.

The sequence of control messages begins with the multimedia network forwarding the calling party identification (CPID) and the VAX retrieving and displaying the caller or location profile based on the CPID received. Unique CPIDs are maintained across the Twin Cities campus and University Hospital by the multimedia network.

Not only does this simplify and shorten the dispatch process, it provides the physical emergency location with accuracy.

The university's telecomm department routinely monitors activity on the 911 system and the OAI links between the network and the VAX 6410. In addition to handling all 911 calls, the university coordinates services for fire, police or ambulance, which are all transparent to the caller.

The 911 system also provides reports that track and analyze performance and usage information.

Emergency function

The university's multimedia network OAI feature also allows the applications processor to request the network to make call connection to designated stations.

The university's Group Alert application also operates over the VAX 6410 and the multimedia network.

If specific university-defined emergency conditions are reported, selected individuals within the corresponding alert groups of up to 300 users will be contacted automatically through the multimedia network.

Groups are predefined in the Group Alert program database. The alert originator presses the Group Alert (OAI) button on the telephone to request the multimedia network to connect all called parties to the appropriate alert message. The originator enters an eight-digit number sequence: the first four-digit code designating the group to be alerted and the second four-digit code representing the security password required.

Upon receipt, the application processor verifies the digits and requests the multimedia network to connect those designated alert group members to an ACD group holding the alert message. The alert messages on the digital annunciator are either prerecorded or recorded by the person who originated the alert. Not only does the ACD set up allow for more efficient handling of the alert calls, the system also generates traffic reports as part of the ACD package.

The application program also includes a callback capability for cases when the intended group member does not answer (from either a busy signal or no answer).

Room for growth

Any number of other OAI-based applications are possible through the multimedia network. The university plans applications in the area of off-campus traffic engineering, for example.

With OAI between a sophisticated PBX or multimedia network and an external application processor, customized applications are derived with the existing sophisticated PBX system serving as the platform.

The university's applications are examples of what can be accomplished via intelligent computer-to-PBX interfaces (CPI) over a multimedia network. The list of integrated applications will grow as link protocol standards are determined. Then more users and vendors will be able to benefit from this integrated multimedia OAI network platform.

In such a mission-critical environment, flexibility and bandwidth on demand is very important. The ability and ease with which to add data to the system is important because the environment is growing and changing daily.

The university is similar to many corporate environments with large campus facilities in that it requires full data integration over its network--it requires a true multimedia network.

The university has integrated voice and data since the mid-1980s. Its more generic voice applications include 6,000 voice mail users and 90 ACD systems operating from its multimedia network.

The university currently has 3,000 ports dedicated to data. More than half the data at the university is routed through the multimedia network and is accessible and used by both the heavy and casual data users. The heaviest users are in the engineering area--these people want 100 Mb/s at their desk.

Video will be the largest area of growth in telecomm at the university. The network will be expected to handle remote classroom links and interactive instruction. The university needs a solution such as switched, lower bandwidth, compressed video through basic rate ISDN for its video applications.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:PBX/Key/ACD Systems; University of Minnesota campus network
Author:Cawley, Steve
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:999
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