Over my travels and meetings with a variety of school districts all across this country, and even some in other countries… I’ve tried to act more like an Architect, than a Value Added Reseller. There is a different point of view and wider scope when you think more like an architect.
I’ve had a chance to meet with many building architects who design for both K-12 and/or Higher Education. I’ve collected a variety of quotes from these meetings – quotes that reflect how Wireless LAN Professionals have been viewed – viewed not from the K-12 customers point of view, but contrasted more against how building architects see their role in designing facilities to help our children learn and grow.
These are in no specific order – but are a bit telling of how many in the Wireless LAN community have lost our way.
Quotes from K-12 Building Architects:
“We understand the way schools operate in shifts, so we don’t need to design the cafeterias and kitchens to be able to feed 100% of the students at the same time.”
“As architects, we are responsible to follow national, state and local guidelines with respect to HVAC, Electrical, Structural and even Sound and Lighting standards.”
“Use use engineering firms to outsource the detailed bits – to help with the loading issues and such – that is unless we have those skills in-house already.”
“Estimating the size and scope of any new building is reflective of the physical real estate market, how many homes, how many school-age children, future growth, etc. – there isn’t any single rule of thumb like square feet per household in the district.”
“We provide very detailed drawings and instructions down to the smallest details – so the building contractors don’t have to think about anything.”
“The process of picking the number and types of classrooms, storage facilities, plant facilities, office space, lab equipment specs, etc. takes longer than the actual design process itself.”
“When dealing with school district management, we have to take all costs into consideration. These managers feel a fiduciary responsibility to the tax-payers in their districts and while desiring great design, want to rein us in wasting money of things that aren’t supporting their mission to instruct the children.”
Now lets contrast those statements from a variety of building architects who are part of the AIA and follow strict guidelines and processes to design the most efficient schools possible with some other quotes I’ve heard from the WLAN vendor community.
“We don’t trust our reseller partners enough to let them do their own design work… so we just tell them One AP Per Classroom will work.” – WLAN Vendor Sales & Marketing
“Our resellers don’t have the tools, skills, or the staff to do a proper Wireless LAN design.” – WLAN Vendor Channel Manager
“We sell so much more product with the One AP Per Classroom shortcut, who needs a WLAN Design anyway.” – WLAN VAR
“Our customers won’t pay for a wireless design, so if they won’t pay for it up front, we’ll just use a One AP Per Classroom – Rule of Thumb instead of doing a proper design.” – WLAN VAR
” We would NEVER do a One-AP-Per-Classroom on any of our projects.” – WLAN Vendor Professional Services
“I can’t believe any of our channel partners would ever even think about doing a K-12 without doing a proper design.” WLAN Vendor CTO
Somehow there seems to be a disconnect somewhere in the Wireless LAN industry – those who know how to do WLAN design, actually DO WLAN design. Those who want to just sell more gear, do the One-AP-Per-Classroom mantra.
Now compare this with how the other established practice of K-12 Building Architecture… It makes me a bit sad.