Determining early in the planning process how technology will be used enables engineers to develop the best design for the technology infrastructure. Planners must realize that computers are just one element of an infrastructure that includes networks, internet access, television distribution, telephones, and public address systems. They also must be mindful of trends such as distance learning and higher data transmission rates. In all cases, plans should allow the school to enhance and upgrade a cable system easily. Failure to understand that technology is a series of related systems and to take cabling into account early in the process poses serious risks, including these:
- Eliminating certain highly effective cabling pathways, such as cellular deck and in-floor duct systems.
- Reducing building flexibility.
- Failing to consider the effect of future technology.
- Increasing the costs and obstacles associated with cable installations and changes.
- Encouraging stop-gap solutions that detract from efficiency and aesthetic appeal.
Dealing with infrastructure considerations early opens the widest options for components: high-capacity, multichannel raceways in high-density locations, medium- and low-capacity raceways in lower density locations, cable tray systems that foster flexibility, floor-box and poke-through systems that enhance access, and underfloor duct systems. The best planning comes early on, when the full range of wire and cable options still are available.