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Delving Into Due Diligence

Simply knowing the name and number of a standard does little to improve productivity or protect individuals from liability.


May 1, 2009  


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Having participated in a number of BICSI conferences, Region Meetings and Breakfast Clubs, I have noticed that in almost every technical presentation there were references to current and proposed information transport systems (ITS) standards. In fact, many presentations are solely dedicated to ITS standards updates.

In articles like this one, I try to interest readers, many of whom are BICSI credentialed members, about technical information I feel is noteworthy to a Canadian audience. What could possibly create this much interest in a topic?

Based on my experience, standards are an informational guide to proper design, installation and testing methods that impact or ensure performance.

Whether you are a supplier or purchaser of ITS infrastructure, due diligence places responsibility on everyone involved in both these activities. My job at Bell Aliant involves interaction with many individuals responsible for various elements of ITS service delivery, ranging from outside plant to the demarcation point, to issues impacting performance and throughput beyond the demarcation point on customer-owned infrastructure.

Simply knowing the name and number of a standard does little to improve productivity or protect individuals from liability. A well-known and respected BICSI Master Instructor often tells his students that the most expensive training you may ever get — and regret — can come via a lawyer representing a client for work or services you have or had responsibility for that failed to meet expectations. In my opinion, due diligence goes beyond merely knowing the name and number of a standard.

When you read through ITS standards authored by subject matter experts (SMEs), you will notice they often reference other related standards within the standard.

One might wonder if there is a hidden agenda promoted by a select few who make changes to documents for some self-serving purpose. Actually, most of the people authoring these documents spend many thankless hours compiling information, submitting them for ballot, reviewing challenges and reediting them until there is consensus.

Only after this lengthy process does the standard become approved. Thankfully, this process does exist, and it produces a series of continually updated technical documents. Imagine the productivity and profitability gains that come from being able to simply purchase manufacturer independent, vendor-neutral standards rather than using in-house resources to produce guiding technical documents so that your technicians and designers can perform their duties efficiently.

From my experience, having responsibility for ITS service deliv- ery includes having SMEs with knowledge and copies of current standards available to them. It is easy, economical and simply helps protect you from what could be very expensive training related to due diligence.

One of the newest ITS standards available to the world is ANSI/ BICSI-001-2009: Information Transport Systems Design Standard for K-12 Educational Institutions. BICSI’s Standards Committee volunteer gurus, in this case the Standards Committee K12 Subcommittee, and technical/editorial staff, produced this ANSIsanctioned document over the last three years.

Approved on March 13, it is now available for purchase by professionals or others having responsibility or interest in ITS infrastructure within these institutions.

The new standard contains 47 pages of information specifically dedicated to ITS infrastructure for new educational institutions covering Kindergarten through grade 12. It will also allow K-12 institutions to benefit from an ITS infrastructure design that is well planned in advance to support growth and changes that will be required to enhance the educational delivery system.

K-12 facilities typically support voice, data, A/V, security, distance education learning, building automation and access, emergency phones/panic stations, master clocks, multimedia devices, and systems located in administration offices such as general and arts classrooms, physical education facilities, auditoriums, and building maintenance services.

Typical floor plans are included in the standard for various classroom types based on student grade levels and functions of rooms. Guidance to locations considering media, system function, and proximity of originating and terminating equipment is also a focus of the standard. Other considerations are given to accessing, or restricted access to equipment which may be defined on a user bases for students, faculty, administrative, and maintenance resources.

Due to the efforts of many, professionals responsible for these institutions now have a manufacturer-independent, vendor-neutral document focused on ITS infrastructure in K-12 institutions. The intent of this particular standard is to allow ITS infrastructure to support the transmission of data in a timely manner at speeds and volumes unheard of only a few years ago, providing services to devices mostly used by people in these age groups.

A copy of this new standard can be obtained by visiting www.bicsi.org/standardsand clicking on the “Order Now!” link.