It’s been said that all politics are local, and perhaps, all technology is local, too; if the recent actions of school and city government officials are any indication, cost-cutting and innovative telecommunications are catching on in the public domain.

Recently, the United States’ third-largest school district announced a five-year rollout of VoIP to improve communications among teachers and parents. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has hired the Ottawa, Canada-based Mitel to deliver what will be the largest single K–12 communications deployment of its kind in the United States. The $28 million project is designed to seamlessly connect 700 schools and administrative buildings.

The new CPS solution will improve overall communications, with an emphasis on staying in touch with parents. It will include such features as multilingual auto-attendant, voice mail, text-to-speech and fax mail. With an eye toward school safety, the system will also enable school officials to notify on-site emergency response personnel of an emergency regardless of their location and allow emergency responders to pinpoint the exact location of an emergency call.

Boston is another municipality giving its residents free wireless access to high-speed Internet. The city recently announced the launch of a pilot project providing Wi-Fi connection to 5,000 homes in the south Boston neighborhood of Roxbury. Boston joins a number of cities and towns, including Minneapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Corvalis, Ore., that have embraced Wi-Fi.     EC