As the trend towards digital transformation gathers pace in schools, monitoring tools traditionally reserved for core network infrastructure can now be used to track many other school operations, according to a senior Paessler AG executive.

Paessler APAC regional sales director, Andrew Timms, told IoT Hub that many schools don’t realise that network monitoring tools like Paessler’s PRTG can extend can access other digital systems, pulling the data collected from all of these devices together into a central location for analysis and insight.

He said that non-traditional IT infrastructure is being used in schools, such as digital whiteboards, and that these devices can also be managed in the same way as core network infrastructure.

“It’s important that for all these devices, we maintain an adequate level of security, we ensure they’re efficiently working, that the students have access to them when they need it, and aren’t having to deal with issues such as downtime that impede on the student body’s ability to learn,” Timms added.

“What we need to do as an industry is highlight some of these examples to the education boards and to the schools and let them know what can be achieved, and I think the secondary and primary schools need to look to higher education for guidance on what can be done on their networks.”

While they typically have smaller budgets than universities, Timms said the relatively low cost of monitoring systems means that schools can benefit from campus-wide systems similar to those being implemented in tertiary institutions.

“Schools can start small, and include their printers to their overall monitoring solution, which often isn’t the case,” he said.

“They can go further, such as keeping tabs on individual students and managing their access to secured areas of the school using RFID or Bluetooth beacon systems.”

Timms said that a monitoring system like PRTG can tap into student access systems and register the number of kids on-premise and compare with the total to track absences and trends over time. This can provide greater insights into why student absences occur and even configure alerts when absences are higher than a pre-configured threshold. And that data can then be integrated with other digital systems.

“Once you start plugging other systems in like intelligent lighting systems, you can ensure that learning areas are adequately lit at the right times of day, while also managing your core network architecture.”

For many Australian schools, temperature regulation is also an important consideration, particularly for those schools with demountable classrooms, where fluctuations in the temperature inside are more pronounced, often requiring greater amounts of power to regulate.

“Temperature control with thermostats can be integrated relatively cheaply and simply into a network monitoring solution,” he added.

“Even if the monitoring solution doesn’t have active control of the heating or air conditioning unit, schools can still ensure that everything is working smoothly by deploying small sensors in the classrooms and other areas, then incorporating them into their overall monitoring strategy, ensuring the comfort of the students at a very low level.”

To see how The Westgate School in the UK uses network monitoring, click here.