More than public address – the benefits of audio in education

Communication plays an important role in the day-to-day operations in education. Whether used for activity announcements, classroom change tones, modified school schedules, calls to the office, or emergency notifications, audio is critical to a school’s ecosystem.

However, many education providers still rely on traditional analog audio systems. These older “intercom” systems typically operate in a separate “silo” with little to no communication capabilities with other systems within the school, and are also expensive to maintain. This is where network audio comes in. Compared to an analog system, this network-based solution requires less equipment, and is simple and quick to install with only one cable. The digital solution also enables easy integration, configuration, and management that sets it apart from its analog predecessor.

Whether implemented in a single location or district wide, this network alternative is becoming a critical component of your school’s communications protocol.

Network audio – flexible communications

The need to broadcast messages to students and teachers throughout the school is a key function of audio in education. Through bell schedules signifying the start and finish of the day, breaks, or calling students to assembly, public address plays a central role in the structure of the day and the smooth operations of the school.

The ability to group or zone your announcements through network audio solutions brings added functionality to public address, allowing administrators to target messages to specific areas of the school. Whether it’s an announcement for the beginning and end of a lunch period in the cafeteria, or an emergency alert to the whole school, with network audio it is easy to change both the zones and the content anytime, as needed.

For instance, at Binghamton University in New York, United States, network audio has improved its campus communication significantly. Prior to the installation, the University relied on a single speaker atop one building, which would broadcast all messages to the whole campus. Today, it has network-based ceiling and cabinet speakers inside campus buildings and horn speakers for outside use. With an audio management solution, it means audio can be pre-programmed to reach certain target zones so only specific groups receive the messages they need to hear.

In addition to making announcements facility wide, or into specific zones, network audio also allows you to easily relay messages to specific classrooms. In this case, the school administrator would be able to target their announcement to a specific instructor or student.

Network audio – increased safety and security

While the benefits of network audio in public address described above are fundamental to the daily workings of the school, it’s important to understand its use as a critical component of a school’s security. There are multiple guidelines to refer to when developing a school’s security protocol such as Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) and Alyssas’s Law. Both were created to educate school administrators on how best to secure their students, faculty, visitors and facilities.

When integrated with a video surveillance system, network audio enhances that system by turning it into a proactive deterrence solution to keep your school’s premises secure. By simply adding and activating a loitering or cross line detection analytics in the camera, a prerecorded (or live call out) message can play, notifying a potential intruder that your school is closed and they are under surveillance, or directing a visitor to an authorized entrance.

The use of two-way audio within an integrated surveillance system can also further enhance school security. For example, within the Hernando County School District in Florida, United States, the blending of IP video and IP audio has changed its security posture from reactive to preventative. Alongside an upgrade to network cameras, the District overhauled the audio capabilities within each school. It installed intercoms to enhance schools’ access control solutions so that visitors to the premises can be vetted via two-way audio before being granted access.

Network audio can be installed as a complement to an existing mass communications system in your school.  In the unfortunate event of an emergency requiring evacuation or lockdown, pre-recorded announcements give clear, calming instructions designed to reduce confusion and panic. This also ensures that staff, students, and visitors alike take the most appropriate action to remain safe and secure. In the above example, the Hernando County School District added microphones in each of its schools’ classrooms and installed horn speakers for emergency announcements.

The increasingly valuable role of network audio in education

Audio is a necessary tool for the efficient operation and management of a school (or any facility). Whether used for announcements or safety purposes, modern network audio solutions are more reliable, flexible, scalable, and simple to implement than ever before.

For instance, Sunrise Christian School in Fullarton, Australia, sought to upgrade its public announcement and school bell system to improve operations. By installing network ceiling speakers in its classrooms, the school was able to operate the system quickly and efficiently via the web-based user interface, creating specific alerts and messages for individual class requirements. The school bells could also be zoned, while school-wide announcements could be shared across the campus as needed.

There are also benefits around lifetime product value to consider here. With an all-in-one speaker system that connects to a standard network, these audio solutions enable you to easily (and cost-effectively) customize, update, and add units to your facility as your needs change over time. You can also use IP-based health monitoring and configuration of the complete system so if there is a problem, you know about it, and it is easy to detect and fix.

The use cases for network audio are clear. It can serve multiple purposes, deliver consistently clear sound, be easily integrated, and scale up to suit your various needs. Be it in the classroom, the corridors, the cafeteria or playground – network audio, whether used as a standalone solution or coupled with additional network-based security solutions – has a key role to play in school facilities, and in ensuring the safety, happiness and education of our children.

For more information on Axis network audio and education, please visit the Axis solutions pages for education or audio. To find out more about a customized audio in education solution, please book a visit to one of our global experience centers.

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