Help from the Help Desk for a Smoother School Year

Did your school year start smoothly?

Rough school year starts are on the rise in districts where help desk procedures are not in place. Technology devices have grown exponentially, as there is unprecedented pressure to use technology to improve student achievement. An effective help desk can make school year starts smoother. Look here if you’d like to learn the top 5 steps to setting up an effective help desk process.

Managing District Technology During a Renovation

A construction project can be an exciting and stressful time for a Technology Department. The key to these projects is to be involved in the entire process from start to finish. Architectural drawings are created well in advance of breaking ground. The drawing should be meticulously reviewed to identify any discrepancies that may arise. These issues can easily be fixed before the project starts but once a contractor starts work per their contract, it can be difficult to change.

One of the great benefits of a construction project is when technology can be designed from the ground up. Often times existing technology is inherited and the design of a server room or network closet was not well thought out. This is the perfect opportunity to customize the area and install any wiring up to code. Having this new technology well documented and organized will provide greater reliability of systems in the long run.

Renovation projects, as opposed to new construction, offer new technology challenges. Offices and classrooms are often temporarily relocated while the project is ongoing. This poses a problem when power and network lines are not readily available in these areas. Enterasys wireless networks have proven to be a reliable means of connecting both mobile and non-mobile networked devices. Most of their wireless access points support a bridging feature which allows for a wired network to be installed in construction or classroom trailers without expensive fiber optic cable being installed. This is a quick and easy way to provide network access in an area which was not designed for such access.

Construction projects are a great opportunity to be a part of. When communication with all parties involved happens consistently, the project will continue and complete smoothly while meeting expectations.

Directors of Technology Receive Security Camera Training

Questeq Team Members are constantly furthering their education to stay current with new technologies and trends. Two of our Directors of Technology have been busy this summer participating in wireless security camera training and certification programs.

Mike Lipnicky, Director of Technology at South Side Area School District, participated in an OnSSI Channel Partner Training that took place in August. Mike received a week of hands-on training in configuring and managing cameras, user accounts, video walls, events and video exporting. Over the summer South Side upgraded their whole campus with new IP-based security cameras managed with OnSSI. Read more about the OnSSI Training program – http://www.onssi.com/training/certification-training.

Cody Thull, Director of Technology at Cornell School District, received his Axis Certification in August. To become certified, Cody needed to become knowledgeable in the latest network video technologies, solutions, products and best-practice techniques. Cornell plans to upgrade their existing security camera system with several state of the art wireless cameras during the 2012-2013 school year. Read more about the Axis Certification program – http://www.axis.com/certification.

Our directors meet as a group throughout the school year to share issues, solutions and best practices. The knowledge gained by Cody and Mike this summer will be a valuable source of information as more of our school districts begin to upgrade their security camera systems.

Designing and Installing Security Camera Systems

This summer, several of our school district customers are implementing or upgrading their current security camera systems. The reasons for these projects vary, but the main goal is to ensure the safety of the staff and students during and after the school day. Security camera technology has come a long way from the limited storage available for archiving and the fuzzy images produced by the cameras.

Due to recent vandalism and theft one of our school district customers has asked us to design an exterior IP-based camera solution for their campus. Due to the large area needing coverage, the district is utilizing a new technology by FluidMesh. FluidMesh allows a camera to be placed up to 30 miles from a building as long as no obstructions exist. With these units no camera set up near the school will be out of range.

Another customer has requested that Questeq upgrade their security camera system to replace outdated and broken equipment. The image quality of their current system was not allowing them to properly discipline students after incidents occurred on campus. We completed an assessment of the building and made recommendations for the placement and layout of the new cameras. The district selected Axis cameras and OnSSI for the software to manage the cameras. Currently, 42 interior and exterior cameras exist around the campus. By the end of summer, a total of 82 interior and exterior cameras will be in place.

You can read more about Axis and OnSSI here

These security system implementations will provide increased availability, security and peace of mind to the staff, students and administration of both campuses.

Level Two Help Desk Support

Help Desk
As technology budgets are stretched or even reduced, finding ways to maintain support of increasing technology end-points in school districts, to say the least, can be a challenge.

At Questeq, all of our clients have the ability to call our Level One Help Desk to report their technology issues. Due to this Level One service, we saw an opportunity to partner with school districts to help them identify common, recurring support issues within their own environment. With this information, our Help Desk Call Center is better equipped to resolve these issues over the phone, providing an additional layer of Level Two support.

We are currently partnering with Moon Area School District to provide this customized, Level Two support. One of our Help Desk Engineer’s is currently working with the Moon technology team to identify their recurring support issues. On-site visits, in addition to new remote desktop technologies, has enabled us to increase our resolution over the phone by 300% since the start of the school year. Our Help Desk has also been able to resolve over 40% of all reported issues for another Level Two Help Desk client.  Saving the internal IT department time allows them the freedom to focus on standard maintenance and larger IT projects.

We are looking to expand our Level Two support to our existing customer sites. If you are interested in more information about our Level Two Help Desk, please contact me, Rick Letterman.

Rick Letterman
Director Support Services
Phone: 412-375-0300 x119
Email: rletterman@questeq.com