Discovery Park of America, located in Union City, TN, is a multi-building educational and entertainment venue with more than 70,000 square feet of exhibits located in Discovery Center, and over 50 acres of additional grounds, gardens and exhibits to explore.
The centerpiece of Discovery Park is Discovery Center, a 100,000-square-foot building showcasing nine galleries, a Grand Hall for large meetings and social events, and a giant human slide that is completely unique to Discovery Park. The final components in the communication mix are two off-site warehouses that are integral to park operations.
Within a few years of opening, Discovery Park began experiencing a number of communication system shortcomings. Due to rapid growth, they had outgrown the original phone system. Some of the features they most desired were missing, like advanced call routing, desktop voice mail integration and remote management of recorded messages, such as updating the park’s hours of operation.
Another major concern was communicating with personnel managing park entry. The gates were supported by an intercom that was not integrated into the main system. When there was an urgency in locating a guest or employee, it was often time consuming and frustrating for all involved.
A third issue was related to Discovery Park’s “blue light” emergency call system. Call boxes are located throughout the park, providing emergency call access through a separate phone system. Bright blue lights, visible over a great distance, are used to mark the locations. The call boxes were set up to ring only one phone. If no one answered the phone, or it was busy, critical time passed before the emergency could be addressed.
The final issue was broadcasting a wireless signal for internet and dial tone access across a ¾-mile radius. The park’s wireless network had to connect the three visitor entry points, main headquarters, meeting rooms, and numerous administrative and exhibit buildings across the 50-acre park. Immediate and constant connectivity were the highest priorities.
When Discovery Park’s System’s Director, Karl Johnson, requested proposals for updating the park’s communication system, he included Hiscall for several reasons. Karl had worked with Hiscall before, and was pleased with the results. Discovery Park also included Hiscall based on their reputation for honesty, service and training.
Karl received strong endorsements when he contacted Hiscall’s customer references. “They were all pleased with Hiscall,” stated Karl, “especially with their deep product knowledge, great customer support and high moral character.” Added Karl, “When it came down to making the final decision, Hiscall was the clear choice.”
The solution involved Avaya’s IP Office 500 system with Voice Mail Pro. Discovery Park went with both IP and digital phones, based on the types of handsets needed. They also selected analog sets for their fax machines, gate intercoms and a Polycom conference phone. Commented Karl, “The system, overall, is light years ahead of what we had, but one of the things I like best is that the hardware is all rack-mounted, instead of hanging on a wall with cables sticking out everywhere.”
Once the system was in place, Hiscall held training sessions to walk Discovery Park’s staff through system set-up and the features they would find most useful. “The system itself is user-friendly,” added Karl, “with helpful prompts every step of the way.”
Discovery Park now has a solution that allows for centralized management of the overall system, including call routing, call and message recording, voicemail (phone and desktop) and much more. Perhaps best of all, it’s a system that can expand easily as the park grows.
The “blue light” handsets now direct calls to any phone around the park, including the cell phones of security officers. The gate call system has an intercom that is integrated into the overall system, so when someone punches the intercom button, it will ring whatever line or lines are programmed in. The warehouses are supported by a dedicated wireless link, with calls routed as an extension of the main line.
According to Karl, “one feature everyone loves is a directory built into the phone, instead of having to constantly update, print and distribute a list of names and extensions. While I can’t site specific ROI measurements, I can tell you this,” added Karl, “our decision to go with Hiscall and Avaya is paying off big time.”