California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 36, No. 2
February-March, 1996

NetDay96 School Site Checklist

This checklist should assist you with some initial planning issues. It will be important for you to consult a network design specialist to plan the basic layout and equipment requirements. If you do not have staff with this expertise, seek a technical volunteer from your community, or via private industry sponsorship through the NetDay 96 website (http://netday96.com), or contact your district office for support. The attached school site and classroom basic wiring diagram should help you visualize the wiring layout.

  1. Identify the Network Champion for your site. Your "Champion" (a teacher, administrator, staff member, parent, community advocate) should be enthused and willing to plan and coordinate activities and personnel for NetDay. The Network Champion should plan to work closely with the school administration, the teachers, and the physical plant manager.

  2. The objective for NetDay is to wire six rooms. You may want to concentrate your efforts on key facilities (the library, administration building, computer labs) and then consider what classrooms you can get to.

  3. Know the type of computers and network connections you will want at the end of the wires you are installing, and determine the number of outlets (computer/network connections) per room. Make sure each computer can be adapted to a 10baseT ethernet network.

  4. Locate the main telecommunications service entry point, usually a phone closet in the administration wing. This is where the external connection to the Internet will appear. Then locate the main hub site for the campus where the conduit topology will allow the shortest run to each building or room to be served. It should be a secure utility space with separate power and adequate ventilation.

  5. Locate the hub sites for each building to be wired (again, a secure utility space is ideal which can accommodate a 10baseT hub and wiring termination blocks).

  6. Using floor plans, locate each place where a connection might be wanted. For standard wiring (category 5 unshielded twisted pair) the wire length from the hub equipment to the connection jack must not exceed 295 feet.

  7. Physically inspect the possible routes for wiring back to the hubs to make sure there are no structural barriers (concrete walls, asbestos, etc.). All wiring should be protected by being inside ceilings or walls. Conduits or raceways can be used where the wiring would otherwise be exposed. Interbuilding runs should be in buried conduit but may be run aerially with proper precautions and strain relief.

  8. For labs or the library where a cluster of computers may be located, decide if you want a few outlets and a secondary hub (easier to set up) or individual wires for each connection back to the utility closet (more flexible).

  9. Decide if you want fiber optic, coaxial cable ("thin-net") or UTP (category 5 unshielded twisted pair) cable between building hubs and the main campus hub.

    UTP cable is similar to but is made differently than the kind used to connect telephones. It is inexpensive, easy to install, and suitable for most networks available today. However it is limited to 295 feet between equipment.

    Coaxial (RG-58 or "thin-net") cable is easy to install and runs can be as long as 500 feet between equipment locations. However, it can be used only for ethernet networks and would have to be replaced if the network is ever upgraded later.

    Fiber optic cable is more expensive and more difficult to install. However, it offers high noise immunity, resistance to tapping, and can be used over greater distances (up to 1000 meters). If you choose fiber optic cable, plan to install at least 12 strand cable. You might choose to terminate only the 1 or 2 pairs you will need now plus one extra pair.

  10. Locate a place for the router (the device that forwards information from the school's network to its destinations) and the main network server, ideally close to each other. The computer lab might make a good location for these since they could be used to demonstrate their functions to advanced students.

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