5 Questions to Ask About Your Next School Intercom System
Today’s intercom systems offer much more than the hardwired pagers of the past that were used for morning announcements and calling students to the office. These systems still do that, of course—but they can also support your security and life safety initiatives and keep daily and weekly schedules running smoothly.
If a new school intercom system is in your future, ask yourself these questions to narrow the field and find the right technology for you.
1. Can the system do what we need?
Don’t start by thinking about products: Consider your life safety and communication struggles first. What’s happening in your school or district that you want to fix? How do you need the intercom system to function?
Worry less about the bells and whistles and focus more on making sure the system can do what you need it to. Depending on your goals, that could include:
- Centralized control so bell schedules can be managed from one location
- An app to manage emergency, scheduling, and events communication
- Repurposing existing speakers and cabling systems to reduce capital expenses
- Creating custom prerecorded messages and notifications
- Sharing announcements, directions, and updates on digital signage
2. Is the system versatile enough?
Today’s AV technology can be flexible enough to be used in unique ways in your school or district.
For example: One school we work with wanted to use its system to indicate moods for special-needs students. Different colors represent different frames of mind: happy, sad, angry, agitated, etc. Armed with this information before they enter the room, staff members know how to best approach the student.
Another versatility factor to consider is whole-district communication. While some issues may impact only one building (a fire, for example), others can affect the entire district at once (think weather or natural disasters).
In these situations, everyone needs to receive the same information at the same time. Instead of calling each school individually, you can make one notification from the central office that reaches all buildings simultaneously.
3. Is the intercom system simple to use?
Complicated technology creates frustration. Success often comes down to ease of use.
If the system isn’t reliable, or it’s hard to figure out, then people will find workarounds. To ensure buy-in and a high rate of adoption, look for a system that:
- Is intuitive to use—especially in emergency situations when time is of the essence
- Doesn’t require lots of training
- Is backed by a company you can call if you have questions
4. Can the system be customized to your school or district?
Look for an intercom system that can be supplemented with additional technology as needed to facilitate communication. A few examples:
- Classroom buttons that send a request to administration for immediate assistance so teachers can discretely call for help without leaving the classroom
- Widgets that allow individualized control of classroom audio settings and send emergency messages to appropriate resources for assistance
- Voice amplification to reduce strain on teachers’ voices
5. Can you try before you buy?
The best way to know whether technology will work for you is to try it out—see if it performs the way you expect it to.
In Lab 46, where we test emerging technology and system capabilities, CEC can create a learning environment that replicates yours. You can see first-hand—remote or in person—how technology will function.
If a new school intercom system is in your future, then CEC is ready to help. We’ll visit your site or schedule a call, analyze the systems you have in place, and provide recommendations to improve safety and communication.
We can also walk you through our Managed Systems Program, which packages the latest technology into an affordable monthly payment instead of requiring upfront capital so you get the technology you need faster—and more affordably.
Nick Zitani is the director of engineering for AV/IT/SC at CEC. He has more than 15 years of experience in AV and security technology for education and holds certifications from AVIXA, Crestron, Extron, QSC, and more.
Audio/Video | Fire and Security