In Part I of our special series on summer IT projects, Planning Summer School IT Projects, we discussed the importance of technology and how a Managed IT provider can help assess your school’s IT needs, plan and prioritize projects, and begin the purchasing process. In this article, we will guide you through the process of tackling some of the more time-intensive and intrusive network infrastructure projects on your IT to-do list.
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Why the Summer Months are the Right Time for Improving Network Infrastructure
Depending on your project, there may be a fair amount of construction or remodeling happening as you improve your network infrastructure. While ladders in the hallways and popped-out ceiling tiles are a hazard when school is in session and hallways are crowded with students and teachers, the summer months offer the advantage of limited foot traffic and a smaller population.
Since you have already gone through the planning and preparation phase, you and your IT team will have ideas on what should be improved, what should be changed or reconfigured, and what should be added or upgraded. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about large, labor-intensive IT projects for the summer:
1. Your School is Growing
If you are expecting an influx of new students and teachers or expanded classrooms to keep up with an increase in student population, you will need to consider bolstering your existing infrastructure. There are three main areas to consider:
More people mean more strain on your network’s current infrastructure. The summer is a great time to upgrade or add switches and/or patch panels, increase the power and storage capabilities of your servers, and add new network drops and WiFi access points — especially in new or often overlooked areas such as portable classrooms. New network drops that require the placing of wall outlets can be added now to expand your coverage.
You may also consider the addition (or expansion) of your wireless network into outdoor common areas, such as the parking lot, playground, and outdoor learning areas or classrooms. While we all hope future school years will return to normal, having the ability to move classes outdoors may still be beneficial for years to come.
From routine daily activities to emergency situations, a school’s communication system is critical to a high-functioning, safe, and connected school environment. You will want to make sure you have the headroom to add additional extensions to your phone system and the capacity to handle increased calls and paging requirements. Now would be a good time to review your phone system and determine if a unified communications system would be a good fit for your organization.
Door access systems, alarms, and even temperature scanning and health check devices can be integrated into a school’s phone system as well, improving school security and student safety.
New classrooms will also need to be outfitted with smart technology that facilitates learning. Interactive whiteboards, projectors, and screens that may require additional cabling or retrofitting will need to be installed. Areas that require banks of computers — such as the school library, a computer lab, or science center — can be built out, outfitted, and tested now before students need to start using them.
2. Your School Needs Updating
Spring is the time many districts pass revenue-generating bonds, so funds are often available by summer to accomplish IT projects that involve remodeling, new construction, or repair. If there is a building addition or remodel in the works, it’s wise to include your IT team at the front end of the process to ensure there is adequate planning and accommodations for network wiring or additional cabling.
Improvements such as cable re-routing, replacement of wireless APs, or upgrading and updating of hardware like phones, audio/visual or video conferencing equipment, and security solutions should be considered early summer projects.
3. Your School Needs a Higher Level of Security and Safety
The pandemic is still ongoing, and most schools have made health and safety an even higher priority. While some have implemented temporary temperature scanning systems, a more permanent solution that can integrate with your school’s access control setup is a smart addition to your summer IT project portfolio.
Surveillance equipment such as security cameras, security gates/metal detectors, and entry/access systems all integrate with your network design, so planning for additional cabling is a smart move.
Let CDS Help You Coordinate Your Summer Network Infrastructure IT Projects
At CDS, we understand how difficult it can be for educational organizations to find the expert help they need in managing their IT systems. That’s why we have developed a team of experts whose targeted knowledge can assist you through every step of the process — from planning and preparation to purchasing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance.
Summer is around the corner. Contact a CDS representative today to get fast, friendly, professional help with all your IT needs from our Managed IT team.