Remote Alaska District Deploys Remote Network Monitoring

Alaska's Lake and Peninsula School District has deployed a remote monitoring solution to help deal with IT problems in its 14 schools, which are scattered across an area about the size of West Virginia.

According to the district, the trouble and expense of dealing with issues in person (including the cost of flying and other forms of travel just to reach individual schools, compounded by weather conditions) led it to adopt remote monitoring, control, and automation systems. For the job, the district chose technologies from Swiss manufacturer Barix.

"The expenses multiplied every time we jumped on a plane, and often our travel was delayed due to extreme temperatures or restricted nighttime travel," said Roland Briggs, IT specialist for Lake and Peninsula School District, in a prepared statement. "The repairs could take up to three days after thawing the equipment and dealing with the water damage. We would always figure out how to get things running again but would end up with a lot of damage and debt. We began searching for an IP serial unit we could hook up over the Internet to my serial devices in the boiler rooms for remote monitoring and control, using the school district's existing network. That's when I came across Barix."

Barix VAR DataNab handled the implementation with the district, including designing custom software for remote monitoring and control. The complete implementation included two Barix Barionet IP control and automation devices for monitoring building systems, including HVAC; Barix R6 relays for remote power control; Barix TS temperature sensors; and DataNab Ai32 modules for expanding the number of systems that can be monitored. With the system, e-mails are also sent out to notify IT staff when immediate intervention is needed; they can then "locate a teacher or village technician to address the situation and prevent a catastrophic failure," according to Barix.

"Alarms typically activate the e-mails from the Barionet, and then the system in danger flashes in red or another color on the GUI," Briggs said. "This means we are doing more and more preventative maintenance versus putting out fires. As a result, the team can schedule travel plans more efficiently when necessary and reduce expenses related to last-minute travel costs."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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