Whether you're opening a new school building/ campus, updating an existing network, or trying to deploy new connected devices (laptops, tablets etc.), you're performance or success is going to depend on your school's wireless network design.
Knowing that your RF design is a critical component, where do you start?
The first, and arguably most important step in the Wi-Fi engineering process is performing a predictive RF site survey.
To help you understand the value of a predictive RF site survey, here's a closer look into how they work, and more importantly the level of accuracy you can expect.
How Does A Predictive Site Survey Actually Work?
A predictive wireless site survey is a front-end wifi assessment, meaning before anything has been purchased and installed.
A company like SecurEdge Networks, will request for the school to send over floor plans, blueprints, outdoor maps, or any detailed layout of the areas the school wants covered.
The school will also need to produce as much detail as possible about the construction of the building or buildings. For example, whether the walls are made of cinder blocks, drywall, brick, glass etc.
There's a slew of additional details besides construction materials including:
- Possible RF obstacles (i.e. metal mesh curtains)
- Ceiling heights and other specific dimensions
- Types of devices that will be used
- Applications that will be used
All of this data is used to model the school's environment using specialized predictive RF design software.
However, (and this is a pretty BIG however) not all predictive software tools are created equal.
At SecurEdge we've invested thousands into the best of breed products we use to make sure our predictive designs are getting our customers the most accurate results right from the start.
How Accurate is a Predictive Site Survey?
I will say this right out of the gate, a predictive site survey will never be 100%, but with enough data, the right software and the right amount of experience using that software it can get pretty darn close.
As we stated above, there's a lot of information that goes into a predictive RF design and to get the best results you need as much detailed data as possible.
The better the information, the closer the predictive model will be to the real-world environment.
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Using free software or having an inexperienced consultant or engineer conduct the predictive site survey, again, can lead to an inaccurate design.
And as we know, a poor design equals bad wifi performance and ultimately financial problems.
Above all else, accuracy depends on three things:
- The experience of the engineer/team doing the predictive site survey
- The quality of the software being used
- The amount/quality of the information gathered
Proper Planning = School Wi-Fi Success
Delivering the technology tools and type of learning environments that students, faculty and even parents are expecting today can be extremely challenging for many reasons.
Your wireless platform is just one of those reasons, albeit mission-critical.
Technology can provide unbelievable opportunities inside today's K-12 classrooms, but it's all for not if your design isn't adequate enough to support them properly.
A predictive RF site survey is the first-step in that process and a step you can't afford to ignore.