Before You Upgrade...

The AV technology at your college or university was top of the line 10 years ago, but advancements in AV functionality has changed so dramatically that faculty and teaching staff frequently have problems connecting new technology with legacy AV hardware and software. 

But before spending hours trying to find the perfect AV technology, and upgrade to a managed system, there are five critical aspects you should consider to save endless time and money throughout the installation: power requirements, network requirements, building infrastructure, hazardous substance remediation, and staffing. 

It is recommended that you consult with your preferred AV integrators, manufacturers, facilities team, and IT department to draw a complete picture.

With all these points are resolved, the hardware installation of a managed AV system can proceed smoothly and with minimal risk of disrupting class schedules. 

Power Requirements

As straightforward as it may seem, power is needed to run electronic equipment. This is the first and most important aspect to consider. Although every classroom will have power outlets, not all classrooms or lecture halls are equipped with enough power at the critical locations: at the podium, on a wall, or in the ceiling. 

Review the layout or potential layouts of each room scheduled to receive an upgrade. Where is the power currently located in the room? Will that be sufficient for the upgrade? Are additionally circuits and outlets needed? If so, where will they be placed? How many and how much power?

Insufficient power and ill-suited placement in a room greatly increases the time and cost necessary to upgrade A/V equipment. If there are limitations, be sure to account for these in your plans.

Network Capability

Installing a managed AV system is beneficial for improving uptime, remote trouble shooting, and managing maintenance needs. However, this can only be done with a managed system that is connected and online.

It is essential to understand the capabilities required for successful operation. Questions to consider include: Will video be on the network or only control and management information? Do AV devices need power-over-ethernet (POE)? What provisioning is required in IP assignments, routing, port forwarding, VLANS, security, and remote access? 

A managed AV system needs at least one LAN connection for monitoring and management but may require several depending on the functionality, design choices, and manufacturer. It is critical to understand how many connections will be required, where they terminate in the room, and where they terminate in your IT infrastructure.

Like power requirements, networks must be in place and functional before installations begin. Scope them early, partner with your IT department, and implement in advance.

Building Infrastructure

Not all higher education institutions were built in the last 50 years, let alone 10 years ago. And, with the speed at which technology moves, there’s a good chance some of your buildings may require new infrastructure. 

Depending on a room’s layout and building material, additional dedicated conduits may be needed to run wiring. This may require construction and build out. Planning ahead for these scenarios will minimize classroom rescheduling and interruptions. 

Knowing where the power and network cables are needed will help determine infrastructure build out. 

Hazardous Substance Remediation

AV system upgrades are not superficial installations. Conduits or attach points for equipment and wiring must be run in the ceiling and walls of each classroom; depending on the upgrade, that work may be extensive. Regardless of the installation complexity, hazardous substances like mold or asbestos must be remedied before an installation can take place. 

Get each room tested if there is any question or concern about mold or asbestos. If a hazardous substance is found, contact a licensed professional company to have it taken care of. An AV installer can only upgrade a room after hazardous substances are removed or certified cleaned. If remediation is simply not an option, seek solutions that work around these limitations.

Staffing

Even fully automated managed systems require the attention of dedicated staff to keep it running, and to respond to maintenance needs as they arise. Managed systems are the most efficient method for keeping all classroom AV technology up and running. They provide reports on classroom usage, as well as scheduling systematic maintenance. 

However, just as a to-do list will not do the work for you, a managed system will only alert staff for maintenance or outages. Have your dedicated staff address these alerts before faculty or staff occupies a room for lectures or presentations. This will ensure your AV is always working. 

AV systems are at the heart of education. Installing a managed system give your faculty and staff the confidence they need to present curriculum without fear of AV equipment failure. 

Installations are straightforward and seamless when these five points are addressed before upgrading, and will save you endless time and money.