Strategies for Smooth Electronic Systems Integration
If you’re thinking about installing a new electronic system (or upgrading an existing one), follow the advice given to students: do your homework. Of course, with so much information available, this task can prove daunting, even challenging for the most technologically minded. But if you follow these eight strategies, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your system is “a go” rather than a costly blunder.
1. Ask yourself the most important question first: who’ll be using the space? The system needs to be user-friendly for everyone who encounters it, from the person who has much high-tech experience to someone who has none. Also, consider how people might use the space in the future. A quality system will have “head room,” and will address the fact that technology changes quickly. For example, a big trend right now is wireless technology. While you may not be ready to go that route yet, it makes sense to consider it now so when you upgrade your system, you can do so in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
2. Assign a coordinator who’ll see the project through from start to finish. This coordinator is someone who already exists within your school system. Whether it’s the facilities manager or Director of IT, this person becomes an advocate for your school. He or she will be the point person for everyone involved in the project—from architects, to lighting companies, to electronic systems integrators, to everyone on the school-side. His or her job involves conveying the school’s needs and requests to the vendors involved. Having one point person to ask questions of—and answer to—makes everyone’s lives easier.
The project coordinator should review the budget, set the system requirements, accept final systems design and, at the end, carefully review all invoices while doing a walk-through of the project to make sure everything that was supposed to have happened did. By being involved in the project from the beginning, the coordinator confirms that the school gets what it wanted, needed and absolutely what it paid for.
3. Create a wish list. The best way to consider the future is getting everyone together who’ll be using the space and asking them what their wish lists are for the room. Do they need video? A podium with a light? Speakers for voice and singing? One mic or ten mics? They should think about everything they must be able to do, and they should think about everything they dream of being able to do. Think outside the box—what are some future uses for the room? An example that illustrates this point is the modern “cafetorium”—rooms that are used as cafeterias for students during the day and as auditoriums for assemblies, nighttime and weekends events. The most effective cafetoriums are ones that were slated to be multipurpose rooms from the very beginning, as opposed to those that were retrofitted after the fact with different features or functions added here and there.
Read on if you would like to know learn more strategies for systems integration.