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Bright Green School: New IP network manages a wide array of systems

Working with Cisco, Giddings ISD delivers a 21st century learning environment

Giddings, Texas, is a small town located in the middle of a very large and rural state. “We’re pretty much an agricultural, oil and gas type community,” says Michael S. Kuhrt, superintendent of the 1,900-student school district.

Two years ago Giddings ISD had the foresight to realize that the future of education required technology to deliver a 21st century learning environment. By connecting students, faculty, and staff, Giddings had a vision of delivering new learning opportunities based on connectivity and real-time interaction for lifelong learning and the opportunity to help its community thrive.

"The benefits of this system continue to emerge."

“We were frustrated with an antiquated and unreliable communications infrastructure prone to extensive maintenance that was not serving our students, teachers, or community well,” says Kuhrt.

Giddings ISD wanted to make the right investment in its future by delivering a quality educational experience to its community, while at the same time having the flexibility to grow and meet emerging needs. Giddings turned to Cisco to revamp its infrastructure and help it transform its educational environment into a 21st century standard.

Today, innovative learning opportunities previously unimagined are a reality for Giddings students. For example, one second-grade teacher is starting a project to connect her class with a second-grade class in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands via online video conferencing. Students from Giddings can interact with students in St. Croix via webcam, providing cross-cultural experiences and learning opportunitiesnever before available.

Even before construction began on the district’s new high school, Giddings identified opportunities to leverage its investment to connect, manage, and maintain the school’s systems in innovative ways via the network. The school district saw the opportunity to converge systems that are not typically managed through IP networks, such as building management processes.

Giddings turned to Cisco’s Connected Real Estate (CRE) solution to unify the voice, video, and data network in the new high school building in order to reduce capital and operating expenses.

Cisco CRE connects HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and energy and lighting over a unified IP network. Facilitiesmanagers can centrally monitor energy usage to find efficiencies and automate environmental controls.

The CRE solution provides Giddings with a network that is automated, smart, interoperable, and scalable.

Moreover, the CRE solution was a perfect fit for Giddings in that it provided the greatest cost benefit to the school district: lower up-front and maintenance costs, and a strategic integrated platform equipped to handle future technology.

By choosing the CRE solution, the new Giddings high school enjoys a host of converged applications and a web 2.0 infrastructure. CRE provides a unique integrated network platform to manage heating and cooling and other building systems, communications, safety, physical security, and even bells and alarms and school-wide paging. Through the convergence of disparate systems over an IP network, Giddings is poised to generate cost savings and operational efficiencies in the new building.

The benefits of the CRE approach include savings on power consumption and better control of energy use through centralized management of HVAC systems and lighting controls, as well as centralized communications and alerting capabilities with a converged public announcement system that also provides clock synchronization throughout all school system buildings.

“The benefits of this system continue to emerge,” says Kuhrt. “We will address a range of critical areas for our new high school, including physical security, video surveillance, and door access control all via the IP network. That is what makes it a truly connected and networked building for the future.”

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