RGD to Introduce Internet Protocol Telephony


The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) will be introducing Internet Protocol (IP) telephony at its locations across the island, with the system to be in place at the head office at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine by September of this year.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, told JIS News that a contract was signed earlier this year for the installation of the system, which is expected to cost some $12 million and will boost accessibility to its services.
Dr. Holness stated that the IP telephony will replace the PBX system, which was previously used but was destroyed during a lightning storm in 2008, rendering the head office devoid of regular telephone service for over a year. She said that this development resulted in the Agency having to resort to using cellular phones to transact business with clients calling the head office.
Once the system is introduced at the head office, it will be rolled out to the regional offices in Kingston; Portmore, St. Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon; Mandeville, Manchester; Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth; Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland; Montego Bay, St. James; St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann; and Port Antonio, Portland.
IP telephony is a general term for technologies that use the IP packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of communication that have traditionally been carried over dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Utilising the Internet, calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, avoiding the tolls of the PSTN. The challenge in IP telephony is to deliver the voice, fax or video packets in a dependable flow to the user.
Dr. Holness explained that a significant feature of the IP telephony, which will boost the RGD’s customer service provisions, is the hunt feature, which tracks available lines at stations within the network if particular numbers called by customers are unavailable. This is almost similar to a toll-free line service.
“One of the most crucial factors which influenced our decision to implement this solution, was the benefit to customers. One of the most frustrating things is to be answered by a machine but, (with) the hunt feature, wherever you call one number (that may be unavailable), then that particular phone will hunt for all other (available) numbers. So, rather than having 82 lines, which we lost in the lightning strike, we will now have hundreds of lines,” she informed.
“So it doesn’t matter where the call ends…a lot more persons would be available to answer the phones. We really don’t like the idea that persons (calling) are piling up and waiting, because we will answer 6,000 calls per week, and have another 3,000 waiting,” she added.
Dr. Holness pointed out that the IP telephony, along with the network system, which enables access to data by staff, are expected to further shorten the RGD’s response time to clients’ queries, requests, and applications. “If you apply in Spanish Town, the person in Montego Bay (will) see the application, and see all the activities associated with that application,” she said.
Another advantage, which IP telephony provides, the CEO said, is 24-hour access to RGD officers, inclusive of weekends. “We will have individuals, who will have a death occurring (for example) on a Friday afternoon. There’s Saturday, Sunday, and often they need to get information to the undertaker to deal with; many funeral homes will not accept a request (for burial) without a burial order. We do find that when we are accessible 24 hours, seven days a week, we are able to satisfy those customers,” Dr. Holness stated.
In apologising for the inconvenience resulting from the lack of regular telephone service at the head office, Dr. Holness invited individuals to utilise the dedicated cell numbers for customer service, which are relayed when calls are made to the switchboard. Additionally, she said that persons can communicate with the RGD via its website at www.rgd.gov.jm or e-mail at: information@rgd.gov.jm.

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