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Birmingham Public School District

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Birmingham Public School District
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The Birmingham Public School District implements District-wide paging system upgrade with a Vocia® Networked Public Address System.

The facilities of the Birmingham Public School District are made up of 15 separate buildings: eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, one senior center, and the administration office.

Every building contained an analog public address (PA) system with one microphone in the main office and a Dukane integrated classroom system. These were typically stand-alone systems, independent of each building, with no real standard of consistency throughout the District. This trend continued as new buildings were constructed and new systems were added. The lack of a streamlined approach and unified communication across all facilities was an important challenge for the District to overcome. District administrators also wanted to improve the audio quality by replacing the older systems.


The Birmingham Public School District wanted to upgrade the paging systems in all 15 buildings. The goal was to provide a unified communication system that would allow clear, intelligible paging, schedule bells and message announcements in each building, plus the system would act as the platform to deliver emergency messages when needed-in individual buildings as well as district-wide.

The audio solution would have to provide expanded features for current and future requirements, and would need to tie into their existing paging infrastructure located in each classroom. Ease of operation for the IT staff was also important, so a solution that provided online system status monitoring capabilities (standard with Vocia) would be an additional benefit for the District. Up to this point, no attempt at unifying the systems had ever been made and thus, there was inconclusive information about the locations and capabilities of all the speakers. Though it was time-consuming for the integrator in the beginning, it was essential that every speaker line in each building be located and identified, and its viability assessed.


While Dean Harris of Integrated Design Solutions acted as the consultant and system designer, Bob Sullivan of Advanced Lighting and Sound was selected to take on the installation. Biamp Systems’ Vocia was chosen as the solution to the District’s challenges because it provided a robust paging backbone that would reside on the District’s widearea network (WAN), along with exceptional digital sound processing (DSP) and remote supervision of the entire system over the existing WAN. The ability to add audio inputs and remote paging microphones via CobraNet® met the District’s current needs and allowed for future expansion.

Because the buildings are located at least a few miles from each other, all are tied together with Vocia through their existing WAN, allowing for inter-building paging, as well as district-wide paging. This feature is what originally attracted the District to Vocia. The email notification system that alerts IT staff to system faults, the ability to monitor the system in real time, and the capability to make adjustments to levels or routing-all from a single remote location-have proven invaluable to the District’s operating efficiency.