A Starter Guide to School Intercom Systems

School intercom systems are a vital part of providing a safe learning environment for students, but can be incredibly complicated to implement. Many school districts have rules about intercom setup that, for example, require a two-way intercom in each room.

Intercoms also have to meet various local and national building codes, as well as standards set by the state for schools specifically.

So, how can you demystify school intercom systems and understand what you need?Inside an empty school classroom to demonstrate school intercom systems

Features a School Intercom Needs

Every school intercom system needs to provide, at the very least, the following:

  • An individual, two-way circuit for each classroom.
  • The ability to place urgent calls to each location.
  • Emergency and global announcements.
  • Automatic and urgent call-in pages.
  • Zones of audio distribution (so, for example, announcements can be made only to the science labs or only to the admin offices).
  • Class change signals, with zone.
  • The ability to monitor and page areas of a building by on site security or first responders.
  • Temporary exclusion of rooms or areas for special events. (E.g., so a speaker in the gym is not interrupted by announcements or the class change signal).

All of this sounds incredibly complicated, but it’s actually not that bad. Most schools, however, will need professional help.

So, how do you go about making the decisions you need to put together a good system.

Important Choices for System Design

The first big decision is how many zones your school needs to be split into. In some jurisdictions, the school district may set the number of zones. You also need to decide what should be in each zone.

As announcements can be sent out to individual zones, you need to zone rooms and areas based on what needs to be heard there. For example, the admin offices may not need to hear class change signals. Meanwhile, there is no sense paging the entire school to track down a student whose location is known, but who can’t be narrowed down to a specific classroom. Instead, you can page only the zone in which they are likely located.

Another key decision is the location of corridor speakers. While it’s obvious that each classroom needs a speaker, it can take some design work to establish the best location for speakers in other areas. This should take into account both acoustics and the way the school is wired.

Finally, many modern schools supplement the intercom system with closed-circuit television, which can be used for things such as morning announcements and piping speakers into multiple rooms.

These choices have to be made in broad strokes before you can pull in an expert to work on your design. However, narrowing down these choices requires expertise.

How a Professional Designer Can Help

The easiest way to simplify your life is to come up with those broad strokes, such as “I want to be able to make an announcement to the gym which is not heard anywhere else” then take it to a professional.

An experienced professional can look at your school building and assess your needs properly. They may already know what the district requirements are, or you can provide them with a copy.

All of the complexities of a functional school intercom system which ensures student safety and smooth running should be familiar to professionals who have already done multiple installations.

Make sure that the designer you choose has done similar work before, specifically in schools. They need to be able to handle setting up class change signals that properly map to the master clock and thus are accurate and consistent with one another (the last thing you need is students being let out of a class late, causing them to miss part of the subsequent class. Late ends to the day have a negative impact on student and teacher morale).

If you are looking for a school intercom system and feeling overwhelmed by the decisions you need to make and the standards you need to follow, Moffit Technology can help. We have the experience needed to put together an intercom system that will work for all of your staff and students.

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