Northland School Division (NSD), headquartered in Peace River, Alberta, serves students in Aboriginal communities and Métis settlements across northern Alberta. NSD's primary goal is to allow students to retain their distinctive cultural identity while achieving academic excellence.
Due to continued network problems, NSD was experiencing increasing difficulty with videoconferencing, Voice-over-IP telephony and other communications and collaboration tools. Assessment by Compugen revealed that the network was being pushed beyond its technical limits. The legacy network equipment, including the underlying cabling infrastructure, was not adequate to support a converged data, voice and video environment. Numerous configuration problems with servers, switches, routers and firewalls were also found. The IT team simply lacked the time, training and tools to properly support and upgrade the network.
"We had set up our network a long time ago and it just kept expanding and expanding, with band-aid patches here and there," said Sherrie Buchner, Supervisor of Technology at the School Division.
To better position its schools to meet current and future connectivity needs, NSD chose Compugen to undertake a network modernization project, which began with Compugen revamping the network core based on new Cisco technology to support voice, video and data requirements. Enabled by this new network infrastructure, VoIP telephony was implemented at head office and in every school, including an IP phone in every classroom. The final phase of the project, which is still ongoing, is the implementation of wireless networking coverage throughout every school.
"Compugen's proposal provided a well-thought-out architecture and implementation plan, including a third-party training partner to ensure we understood how to support the new technologies," says Buchner, adding that they also chose Compugen because the new generation of Cisco products proposed by Compugen would fit well with NSD's existing Cisco environment. "We really like the Cisco products because of their warranty and longevity – we trust their hardware."
Revitalization of the core infrastructure has given NSD a network that is dramatically more stable, efficient and faster, thus improving communications and collaboration amongst students and faculty. In addition, the implementation of VoIP and an IP telephone in every classroom provides safety and security benefits, while the gradual rollout of wireless coverage enables students and faculty to access school resources from anywhere, using personal devices or NSD-provided laptops.
"With significant attendance and literacy challenges throughout our district, we're especially excited about the positive effects that various audio, voice and video technologies and tools will have on student engagement and learning," says Buchner.