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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Deploys Cisco IP-Based Network to Deliver Interactive Learning Experiences


SAN JOSE, Calif., November 21, 2005 - Cisco Systems announced today that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, an interactive museum that honors all types of freedom, is deploying an end-to-end Cisco Internet Protocol (IP)-based network to bring interactive learning to its visitors.

The museum, located at the former dividing line between slave and free territories on the Ohio River, helps foster global empathy for freedom using exhibits that provide on-the-spot learning and personalization of the freedom experience for each visitor.

For example in an exhibit titled, “Suite for Freedom,” a visitor watches a brief movie about the Underground Railroad and then has the opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of the person from the film. At an interactive kiosk, that person must make critical decisions about their escape such as whether to take a little sister during the escape or return later for her. Will the escapee leave at night or during the day? The exhibit then shows the visitor the consequences of those decisions.

“With a year of using the Cisco IP-based network behind us, we are now a cutting-edge facility that is providing memorable and thought-provoking experiences that encourage global exchanges on all facets of freedom,” said Paul Bernish, chief communications officer at NURFC.

The Cisco network is also helping enable improvements in the Center’s internal and external communications. With Cisco CallManager, Cisco Unity unified messaging and the Cisco IP Phone 7920G, the Center’s staff stays in touch much more efficiently than in the past. Among other benefits, they are able to conduct virtual board meetings, eliminating the need for members to travel at inconvenient times.

The Center also employs Cisco IP Contact Center (IPCC) Express edition, an integrated “contact-center-in-a-box” that provides sophisticated call routing, contact management and administration features.

“This has made a big difference in our ability to serve visitors,” says Bernish. “Before, we got up to 30 voice mail messages a day just for group sales, from people who didn’t want to hold when our operators were busy. Now, they have more options when they call.”

At the core of NURFC’s IP network are Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches, which provide the museum with high availability, scalability and strong support for its converged applications. For workers or contractors who need remote access via a virtual private network (VPN), the center relies on Cisco VPN 3000 Series Concentrators. The VPN also ties the Center to its warehouse across the Ohio River.

Network security and reliability help ensure that NURFC’s interactive exhibits and Web site are always on and protected from attacks. Cisco PIX firewall hardware and software solutions provide full firewall protection and IP Security (IPSec) VPN capabilities, protecting the internal network from outside intrusions. Further, a Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS) provides authentication, authorization and accounting for users who try to access the network.

“Our mission is to change hearts and minds, and that’s clearly happening,” adds Bernish. “The material we present is very important - and we wouldn’t be nearly as effective in getting the point across if it weren’t delivered in an engaging, interactive manner. That’s where our IP infrastructure really comes through for us.”
About National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center brings to life the inspiring, heroic stories of courage, cooperation and perseverance in the pursuit of freedom, especially from Underground Railroad history. The Center provides forums for inclusive dialogue and encourages every individual to take a journey that advances freedom and personal growth.

About Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, this year celebrates 20 years of commitment to technology innovation, industry leadership, and corporate social responsibility. Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to:

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