A fellow administrator at my school mentioned that “All this IT stuff is neat and all – but what we really need is a way to audibly announce things. We need a way to interact with the teachers in their rooms and to alert the entire campus – dorms included – in the event of an emergency.”
Well, the last thing I want to do is now start pulling audio cable all over campus. We’re already in the middle of a cabling frenzy getting our new building-access system working. However, with all this cable that is now there there is no reason why we can’t use it – everything else is hooking up to the network.
One company, Barix – that happens to be Swiss – is able to either function as a PA system plugging directly into speakers, or an intercom system for classroom use – or both. One “feature” of this system also allows monitoring of the different stations – so that one could listen in on what is happening in a classroom or hallway – which might not necessarily be a good thing.
Another company, Extron, that I’ve worked with in the past, also has an intercom feature – albeit this one is designed for a help desk technician to walk users through technical problems – so it is probably not as useful for our needs.
One thing that does make sense, however, is that since we’re, over the next year or two, going to be opening up all the ceilings to replace our aging WiFi network, if we are going to deploy a PA system like this, it would be better to only open up all the ceilings once.

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