Elastix as a communication platform for people with disabilities on emerging countries
Elastix as a communication platform for people with disabilities on emerging countriesFunctionality, quality and low costs are social projects, whether they´re private ordifficult to obtain. Many SMB companies governmental.around the world have the dilemma toimplement top technological solutions to It is rewarding and interesting to developenhance their businesses, but must functionalities that can be used toovercome the budget challenge. implement communication projects that integrate people with disabilities intoThis case study demonstrates how Elastix society. It is interesting not only for thecan be adapted to scenarios where technological point of view but for thefunctionality and quality are very budget side as well.important and the project budget isrestricted. In this document we will present three projects implemented in three differentTo show how to solve this equation we Latin American cities. In one of them welooked up for several cases with these will see the use of Elastix as ancharacteristics. After exploring many entertainment solution for blind people,interesting cases, we chose a group of while in the other two we will see howthem that caught our attention; mainly Elastix helped create effective platformsbecause they show how Elastix is being that made possible to reinsert people withused as a solution to be implemented in disabilities to working environments.ElastixElastix is an open source unified communications solution. The licensing model, whichpromotes the free use and distribution of software, allows lower costs and focus on thebudget which sometimes it is not given such importance but it can make the differencebetween success or failure of a technology platform, such as services .One of the reasons why Elastix has become very popular in many countries, is the ease tocarry out implementations of telephony configurations that can extend to advancedconfigurations and can integrate advanced customized tools. The reason for this ease ofintegration is the free access to the software code. In this document will look how Elastixintegrates with other software tools such as JAWS (for voice synthesis), Asternic Call CenterStats or even custom development.
Cases descriptionThe selected deployments for this case study have been made by expert companies in thetelecommunications field. These companies have decided to use Elastix to perform theirprojects.The companies Atech Comunicaciones and IPtegra, from Colombia, develop their activitieswith the goal of integrating handicapped people in a working environment, while thecompany Proximus from Chile offers an entertainment service based on social networks withthe purpose of integrating blind people. Atech Comunicaciones – Medellin on roadsThis case was made in the ADA Foundation created. The registration of thesein Medellin - Colombia. The main objective extensions was done using the ZoIPerof the case was to establish a call center softphone which supports IAX extensions.platform in which agents were people with One advantage was the low investment insome type of mobility difficulties. telephones (the chosen softphone is also freeware), while another advantage wasAn essential requirement posed was the the possibility to maximize the uptime ofinclusion of remote working possibilities, each agent due to the stability of Elastix.because people with movement limitationsoften have difficulty going to the office. For For reporting, a custom development wasthis reason the whole implementation of made according to the customer’sthe project was made so the agents could requirements. This development was donework from home in Java Standard Edition using the plug-in Ireport-Designer.Elastix 2.0 and its Call Center addon wereinstalled, both components of free After configuring the system, the agentsdistribution. At the beginning of the project were trained in the use of the console and30 agents were included, all working test campaigns were configured. From theremotely on regular computers. Previously moment the Elastix solution becameexisting equipment and infrastructure was operational, the tests demonstrated anused. increment in the number of received calls. We must note that remote monitoring is aTo optimize the access of remote agents to bit complicated, but nevertheless all agentsthe main server, IAX2 extensions were were in constant operation.
IPTegra – Call Center with blind agentsThis case was made at Sistem Contact was made for metrics. The project alsoCenter - SCC, which specializes in the allowed the use of JAWS software tocollections area doing an outbound convert to audio the text displayed on theoperation. In their upgrade project, a social screen. For this specific case, thecomponent was included: the integration information of the campaigns forms isof multiple agents with disabilities. Blind or displayed on the screen and JAWSpartially sighted people, along with non- translates it to voice, making listenable byhandicapped people, performed as agents . the blind agent.SCC was already operating a The improvement of the infrastructure andcommunications platform and decided new tools allowed to keep a base of 80migrate to Elastix due to two key agents with the possibility of raising theobjectives: facilitate the administration and number to 130 when the call center’ssupport tasks, and the possibility of using activity increases. The customer servicethe Elastix’s Call Center addon, which rate increment was 300%, this wasoffers predictive dialing. determined with real metrics. This is because its original infrastructure did notIn the management and support areas, have a solution capable of organizingElastix makes easier the administrator’s campaigns efficiently.daily tasks. Thus he or she could use thetime not spent on unnecessarily difficult Out of the base of agents, 16 blind peopleadministration tasks on other important were included with a permanent base of 4activities. The installation and set up was supervisors for the area. For agentsthe only meticulous and detailed task without disability, the use andthroughout the implementation process management of the forms in Elastix’s Callmaking the resource monitoring and daily Center was easy and for blind agents themanagement of the communications more adaptation of these forms allowed them toefficient. operate the system effortlessly. These two points were important in the growthRegarding the Contact Center, Elastix’s Call performance.Center addon, provides predictive dialingfacilities and also allows the integration of The number of concurrent calls is nowother tools such as advanced reporting and about 80 and is expected to continueexternal consoles. At this point an growing.integration with Asternic Call Center Stats
Proximus – Social networks for blind peopleIn 2007 Proximus started a project to The implemented platform allows blindestablish a social network for blind people people to have conferences, which also hasoriented to a digital voice platform with a a personal voicemail, which empowers thecapacity of 4 E1 interfaces. In 2009 they user experience.decided to internationalize that socialnetwork through a solution capable of The administrators of the platform aredeveloping the application in a platform blind people too, so there was somethat is economic, robust and 100% customized development work made tocompatible with VoIP. Elastix’s dynamism allow the management of the voicewas the main reason for their choice. communications network based on caller IDs. Making them able to identify, add, block or remove users.Among the requirements, it wasestablished that the implementation The number of concurrent calls is aboutshould use open source software and 100, it is projected to reach 200 by the endwould be able to handle a total of 2 million of this year and with an approximate ofof minutes per month on the 120 IVR 4500 registered users!channels. Another major requirement wasto support both the digital (PSTN) and IP Resulting from the implementation, thetraffics simultaneously. satisfaction level was very high, allowing a significant growth of this social network.Due to the capabilities of users, the audio Technically the solution maintains anmust maintain a high level of quality. impressive stability with nearly 100% uptime, processing 2 million minutes of calls per month.ConclusionsThe common factor in these cases is the difficulty in the funding of social projects.Establishing an investors or customers base based on work done by people with specialneeds is complicated because of the lack of real statistics.Another common factor is the adaptation of any platform to the requirements of peoplewith special needs to be integrated to a stable working environment, or to maximize theconfidence (such as in the Proximus case).In all these cases, Elastix was able to solve these issues mainly for two reasons: The possibility of making a low-cost implementation Flexibility to adapt to the requirements of end users
Among the main achievements that were obtained are the following:Suitable BudgetThe Elastix choice allowed achieving the initial goal of the three cases, which was thedevelopment of a pilot project that ended in a real entrepreneurship that could beimplemented according to the cost and technical feasibility.In the case of having used a proprietary solution instead of Elastix, the estimated costsrelated to the communications, would have been much larger, at least twice.Easily integratedElastix was established as an ideal platform for the design of the functionalities toimplement, including specific development and integration of new tools, all aimed to makethe technological solutions adapt to the end user and not vice versa.The following table shows some details of the integration that was performed on theprojects described above with other tools or with custom programs developed. Atech IPTegra Proximus Custom development Yes No Yes Programming language Java + Ireport- used for custom N.A. PHP Designer development External tools integration 1 No Yes No Asternic Call Integrated external tools N.A. Center Stats, N.A. JAWSFor Proximus, the project involved new features, many of them adapted to the recurrentneeds of users.1 Excluding softphones or small tools that do not represent a technological challenge of great magnitude.Neither is considered the Elastix call center addon
Growth capacityElastix’s licensing does not put obstacles to growth. The only limitation that could exist is theresources of the hardware platform. This is certainly a very important advantage for anyambitious project.For IPTegra, it was reported a 300% growth from its initial implementation. The growth wasdealt with simply by improving the hardware capacity of the server. Atech IPTegra Proximus 200% growth till Growth Rate N.A. 300% growth the end of the yearSocial objectives obtained through the projects studiedBeyond the intrinsic advantages of the product, Elastix was the tool that allowed theprojects examined here reach their social goals, specifically:Improvement in the quality of life.- In both Call Center projects and in the Social Networkproject, the quality of life for users and agents really improved. Especially in this case for theintegration to the working environment of people with difficult access to employment andthe integration of people who have been segregated from society.Inclusion of persons with disabilities in the work environment.- The Medellin on Roads andSCC projects caused the establishment of a permanent entrepreneurship with motivatedand qualified people.High performance at work.- The inclusion to the working environment was a motivatingfactor to establish or increase performance in the Call Center cases, where the end customerperception depends on high standards of service. On both cases the ease of use of the callcenter application has been crucial for quick learning and correct use.Portfolio Growth.- In the Medellin on Roads case, the high efficiency level allowed theestablishment of new portfolios and new clients for the Call Center.
Comments of the implemented companies“Our social network is having the desired effect, with a sustained growth in both the userdatabase and the monthly minutes processed. Technically, the solution demonstrated adramatic stability at almost 100% of activity time and 2 million minutes processed permonth without any problems. The solution provided by PaloSanto Solutions is constantlyadapting to newer and more difficult user requirements, such as blind people who areguided only by sounds”. Leopold de Bonhome, Proximus S.A. Manager“The most beautiful aspect of this project is the satisfaction of using technology to help agroup neglected by our society. To see a person who is happy because he feels useful, andhe can be part of a working environment, that is priceless. This project gives hope to thosewho have never had an opportunity”. Ludwig Ramirez, systems and network consultant, who was in charge of the technical implementation of this project through the company IPTegra“We have found a qualified workforce, professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm todeliver a good job, through technology that gives us a distribution like Elastix, which allowedus to complete this project with full satisfaction” Atech Comunicaciones, integratorReference InformationVideo showing the Elastix and JAWS integration:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4eX94NoXoMMedellin on roads project website:http://www.medellinsobreruedas.co