Spotlight on integration: planning for super-council communications infrastructure

By Matt McCloskey.

Northern Ireland local government communications has never faced a time like this. As councils look to build on the opportunities – and avoid the pitfalls – offered by the Review of Public Administration and the creation of the super councils, IT managers will be looking for best way to move forward with systems integration, collaboration and cost reduction. But what are the real starting points for assessing the best communications infrastructure in the post-RPA world?


With councils set to take on transferred functions from central government, close integration and collaboration is paramount: within clusters, between central and local, and between local and the rest of the public sector.

For IT managers considering their options, the key questions fall into three important areas:

 “Where is the greatest opportunity to reduce complexity and introduce simplicity?”

Merging multiple organisations isn’t easy: there are duplicate voice systems, disparate networks and working practices. Along with wide area networking, IP telephony can bring these organisations together onto a simple single network. The benefits are clear: free on-net calls, improved employee collaboration and increased mobility. With Unified Communications (UC), colleagues can share information easily, embrace smart devices and cut down on travel expenditure.


The new Omagh & Fermanagh super council has already embraced this opportunity and are leading the way for many more. Working closely with their IT and business staff over the coming months, eir NI will roll out IP telephony for 500 users across both their headquarter sites whilst ensuring uninterrupted telephony service for all. The fact that eir’s solutions are also integrated to central government and other councils, allows for greater collaboration throughout the public sector.

“How can councils reduce the risks of new network integration?”

When it comes to assessing the strength of a partner, few capabilities are more compelling than a solid track record. The resilient IP telephony platform offered by eir NI for local government is a de facto clone of the road-tested Network NI, the wide-area network built by eir NI and hosting 21,000 central government IP telephony users. It’s the largest single IP telephony deployment on the island of Ireland, and its resilience and stability has been proven since its rollout 4 years ago. Integration is complex; councils need a provider they can trust.


“How can councils cater for integration between legacy telecoms and the new world of IPT and UC?”

IT managers will be well aware of the collaboration capabilities offered by UC. But what about legacy systems which still have life in them yet?


The least-risk approach to large-scale migration is to implement the new UC cluster in parallel to the existing legacy systems. Our Cisco qualified engineers bring decades of experience in designing, rolling out and managing large scale infrastructures, from the cornerstone of voice to instant messaging, ‘presence’, video conferencing and web collaboration. Creating interconnects between new and old platforms will allow both to co-exist and for a phased migration in line with customer’s pace for change. In this way, users can evangelise within the organisation and ensure effective adoption of new systems.

Making Northern Ireland local government a world-class model of integration


At eir Business Solutions Northern Ireland, we’re not just vendors, we’re citizens. For our communities, our families and fellow local businesses, we want to see Northern Ireland local government become a model for how collaboration and integration can be done, and we want to use our experience to help get there.

Matt McCloskey is sales director of eir NI. Contact Matt at to talk about how eir NI can help your local council business.