CRN IMPACT Awards: Ericom cuts prison violence, call costs

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CRN IMPACT Awards: Ericom cuts prison violence, call costs

Sydney unified communications specialist Ericom has given CRN a look behind the curtains of its $45 million project to upgrade the ageing phone systems in New South Wales prisons.

Ericom won the tender from Corrective Service NSW (CSNSW) in February 2018 in partnership with primary contractor Telstra, and was charged with upgrading the 15-year-old phone systems in 38 prisons across the state.

The prisons were still equipped with old steel phones mounted on the walls, Just 900 phones were available for 14,000 inmates, leading to long queues and frustration from inmates wanting to communicate with friends and family.

To alleviate the pressure, Ericom installed IP screen-phones from corrections technology specialist Global Tel Link. Many of the phones are in cells, where they provide voice and video calls. Importantly, the devices can also show videos, training material, or e-books.

With some inmates spending an average of 16 hours a day in their cells, the phones become a way to deliver many services.

CSNSW praised the new system for helping reduce tension in the prisons thanks better access to communication to family and friends. According to Ericom, inmate violence has been reduced since the new system was implemented, with better communication seen as a key reason for change.

As with any government-run project, cost was a major factor. Ericom managed to deliver on that as well. Prisoner call costs have been made 15 percent cheaper with the new system.

“The transition went very well,” said NSW Police commissioner Peter Severin.

“We are pleased to have a better phone system that will provide the basis for our offender digital strategy in the future. The new system costs inmates 15 per cent less to make calls. This will encourage them to stay in touch with their families, which helps with rehabilitation.”

Ericom is a finalist in the 'Customer Experience' category in the 2019 CRN Impact Awards. For a list of all finalists and further details on the awards, please head to the CRN Impact Awards hub. The awards take place during the CRN Pipeline conference. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.

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