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Networking Hardware Recommendations for Schools

Schools and other large institutions like hospitals have particular networking and security needs. Read about our recommendations in networking hardware here.

Networking Hardware Recommendations for Schools

A large secondary school in the UK might be home to close to 1000 pupils and staff combined during the day and have grounds covering dozens of acres. Managing this volume of staff and students over such an expansive area can prove difficult and there are precautions to take regarding pupil safety, necessitating capable security systems.

Now, in 2020, fast internet access is increasingly considered a necessity rather than a luxury. The internet enables faster communication between staff across different buildings and departments and, with almost all information ever published just a Google search away, has become an even more valuable resource for student research than textbooks. Moreover, with more than half of adults stating in 2018 that they turn to YouTube to help them learn new things, it is no great leap to imagine that our children and teenagers do the same, turning to richer mediums like video to educate themselves.

Teachers no doubt benefit from having fast internet access as collaboration with other staff and with students becomes easier. Using cloud services like Google Suite to mark students’ work reduces paper use and enables faster, more instantaneous feedback in a format students may well be more comfortable with. Typing is faster than writing with a pen and editing a document is less time consuming when using a text editor. Of course, not all schools or parents will have the budget (or level of trust) required to supply their children with a laptop, but as the world becomes more digital and the tools technology provides us with to create and collaborate become ever more powerful, it makes sense to invest in this in some capacity.

Now, with many devices both transmitting data and receiving power over a single ethernet cable via PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology and powerful, centralised, cloud-based device management systems like Ubiquiti’s UniFi Controller, it is easier than ever to meet the technological requirements of your staff, students and governing body.

Access Points

No matter how many square feet your school covers, you will have portable devices, from laptops to tablets, that can enrich your students’ learning experience and empower your teaching staff. You’ll need wireless internet access for these, necessitating the installation of WiFi Access Points (APs) around your building(s).

Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC PRO

Ubiquiti UniFi UAP AC-PRO

This is one of our best selling wireless APs for institutions of all sizes. An extremely capable, enterprise-grade unit, the AC PRO boasts a speed of 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 3x3 MIMO dual-band capabilities (meaning across both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands). Supplied with mounting hardware and benefitting from the powerful UniFi Controller device management system, you can quickly set to installing and configuring this device the minute it arrives with you.

DrayTek VigorAP-910C

DrayTek VigorAP-910C

Like the Ubiquiti UAP-AC Pro, this unit is designed to be fitted flush to the ceiling in order to provide unobstructed coverage. It features a number of security and management features to help improve and protect the flexibility and integrity of your school’s LAN, making it a useful addition to an existing network as a provider of wireless connectivity or as a repeater, extending the range of your existing wireless coverage.

Security Cameras

Student safety will undoubtedly be a concern for parents, school governors and just about anyone with ties to the school. A capable security system can set minds at ease and make managing the security of the school grounds easy. IP CCTV cameras can receive their power directly through an ethernet cable via Power over Ethernet technology, making installation in more remote locations half as difficult as routing a power cable to the camera becomes unnecessary.

Ubiquiti UniFi UVC-G3-BULLET

Ubiquiti UniFi UVC-G3-BULLET

This powerful little camera is designed for use in the UniFi Video surveillance management system. Offering 1080p video and both internal and external mounting capabilities, as well as an automatic IR cut filter for day and night surveillance, just a handful of these units could meet your school’s security requirements. Like other UniFi products, this device benefits from being manageable via the UniFi Controller, meaning you can manage the device and view recorded video as well as its live feed from any device with internet access.

Grandstream GXV3674

Grandstream GXV3674

A weatherproof IP camera with infrared sensors, these cameras are ideal for settings where weather and lighting conditions may not be ideal. Capable of monitoring from close- to long-range, these units are perfect for surveilling your school car park, sports grounds and outbuildings.

IP Phones

Your school’s office and administrative staff especially, but also your teaching staff, will benefit from having an IP desk phone. Lower call costs and better quality audio are just two of the benefits of making calls digitally using the internet versus analogue phone lines. What’s more, by virtue of being digital, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers often offer powerful features you may not have even considered, making IP phones a step forward in communication capabilities rather than a step sideways.

Grandstream GXP1625

Grandstream GXP1625

Like all other devices listed here, the Grandstream GXP1625 is PoE capable. One of our best-sellers, it offers several advanced features including 3-way conference calling, off-the-hook auto-dialling, auto-answer and dial planning. Typical office phone functions are all present, such as call hold, transfer and forwarding.

Other Considerations

UniFi Cloud Key

If you decide to purchase a Ubiquiti UniFi product, you will benefit most by adopting their ecosystem and using UniFi products across the board. Their centralised device management system, the UniFi Controller, will enable you to set up, configure and monitor all UniFi devices on site.

A Cloud Key Gen 2.0 PLUS is the perfect companion to your UniFi networking and video devices. The PoE device houses a 1TB (upgradeable to 5TB) hard drive, making it the perfect home for recorded security cam footage. The cloud key also acts as a dedicated device running the UniFi Controller, eliminating the need to install the Controller on a PC or dedicated server.

PoE Network Switches

With all of those PoE devices, it makes sense to have a network switch capable of linking and powering all of these devices. A Ubiquiti PoE network switch like the UniFi USW-16-PoE will be manageable via the UniFi Controller, adhering to the UniFi ecosystem, whilst housing sixteen PoE+ ports to power your devices.

Intercom Speakers

If you’re a larger school with a lot of goings-on and need to keep staff and students informed throughout the day in addition to a daily assembly, an intercom solution for announcements would be sensible. The Grandstream GSC3505 or GSC3510 SIP Speaker Intercoms are perfect for offices, schools, hospitals and other large institutions that need an announcement/communication solution, as well as offering an invaluable, tappable resource for any security emergencies where fast, widespread communication is essential.

In Summary

Like other large institutions such as offices and hospitals, schools have a particular set of needs. For the individual charged with sourcing hardware to meet these needs, the task can seem quite daunting. Hopefully, this article has opened your eyes to some of the options and opportunities available to you.

We understand that every institution and enterprise has its own unique requirements. Get in touch today for tailored advice on the best units for you or to take advantage of our special price breaks on bulk orders.

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