With technology expanding at such a fast rate, the world of education has been working hard to integrate it into classrooms. Many schools have incorporated smart boards, mobile devices, and online lesson plans into their teaching programs. To support digital learning and supply internet connectivity in the classroom, an increasing amount of equipment is required to properly store and protect hardware, networks, and infrastructure throughout campus.
Here are the industry standards and cutting-edge products that are making it financially advantageous to prepare schools for the digital age.
Network Standards for K-12 Educational Institutions
Educational facilities have specialized networking requirements that exceed standard commercial buildings. ANSI/BICSI 001-2009 Information Transport System Design Standard for K-12 Educational Institutions provides information that cuts across multidisciplinary design efforts, creating savings in building construction and renovation, as well as in the planning of future growth and changes.
BICSI 001 is beneficial to K-12 facility owners and operators, architects, engineers, IT consultants, project managers and any other entity involved in the design, installation or maintenance of technology systems in educational facilities.
K-12 educational facilities vary in size and function, so it is important to keep in mind all typical and possible ITS/ITC connections. These include, but are not limited to:
- Wired/wireless networks
- Security system/video surveillance
- Audio/video connections
- Intercom/paging systems
- Intelligent building management systems
Listed below are a few basic IT storage solutions based on BICSI 001.
The primary challenges in organizing, storing and powering network equipment are space and budget. Although technology is advancing at a fast rate, many schools still have considerable limitations in those key areas. To accommodate extra equipment and infrastructure, educational facilities typically have a few dedicated closets in remote locations.
If even more additional space is required to deploy and connect new equipment, there are some space-saving solutions.
1. Wall-Mount Enclosures
Wall-mount enclosures create accessible locations for equipment where space is limited or simply does not exist. The enclosures are available in both open and closed solution designs for cables and equipment. Using the enclosures, equipment can be stored and secured on the wall inside or outside of classrooms, in hallways or equipment rooms, and can be used to connect remote groups of users to the same network.
2. Ceiling Enclosures
Zone and wireless enclosures can be used above a typical drop ceiling. The ceiling enclosures replace a single 2-by-2-foot or 2-by-4-foot drop ceiling tile and have a door that provides easy access to the equipment above. By dividing the workspace into zones and pre-wiring each to a zone enclosure, it becomes easier to change connections in the future. Only the cables between the zone enclosure and the individual workspaces are moved, added or changed, eliminating disruption in other zones.
3. Cable Management
For new construction in designated equipment rooms, traditional racks, vertical cable managers and overhead cable runway (ladder rack) are the best choice. Schools, much like healthcare facilities, have a wider range of cable media and generally a denser cable plant than typical commercial office space.
The newest cable management and pathway products include features that allow better management and support of cables, including ways to bundle and arrange cables — and to position cable radius drops exactly where they must be to align pathways and managers. This allows a single pathway to support multiple cable media and adapt to future changes.
Schools may not have an on-site IT specialist. Intelligent power distribution units (PDUs) provide a way to remotely monitor and control power to networking equipment. PDUs may also monitor environmental conditions surrounding the equipment. Horizontal monitored or switched PDUs should be used to power and monitor equipment within enclosures.
Selecting a Project Partner
To save time and money on installation costs, IT experts should select a power provider that preinstalls PDUs into enclosures. In addition to cost and energy savings, this fast-tracks design projects. This is critical in the ever-growing and ever-changing education industry. In addition to preinstallation, providers who offer tools and resources, such as onsite evaluation and customization capabilities, can help keep projects under budget and within the determined deadlines. They can also help with adaptations for future growth.
Overall, these solutions help connect every room within a school from classrooms and offices, to auditoriums and gymnasiums. With the right solution from the right provider, preparing a school for the digital age can become a financially sound reality.