Barix Provide Remote Monitoring Solution for Isolated Alaskan School District

Barix, a provider in IP-based audio, intercom, control, and monitoring, announced that Lake and Peninsula School District in southwest Alaska is using Barix IP control and automation devices to remotely monitor the HVAC, electrical and other critical building systems at 14 schools across a remote, 400-square mile section of the state.

Headquartered in King Salmon at the northern end of the peninsula, the sparsely populated region encompasses 17 small, widely-scattered communities. Prior to installing the Barix IP solution, the school district was often forced to close schools to repair boilers, air handlers and other equipment that provided heat and electricity to schools. The limited human resources at the school district and in the villages, coupled with expensive and difficult travel conditions, led the school district to Barix.

"The expenses multiplied every time we jumped on a plane, and often our travel was delayed due to extreme temperatures or restricted nighttime travel,” said Roland Briggs, IT Specialist for Lake and Peninsula School District. “The repairs could take up to three days after thawing the equipment and dealing with the water damage. We would always figure out how to get things running again but would end up with a lot of damage and debt. We began searching for an IP serial unit we could hook up over the Internet to my serial devices in the boiler rooms for remote monitoring and control, using the school district's existing network. That's when I came across Barix.”

After researching the Barionet, Briggs contacted DataNab, an IP systems programmer and Barix reseller based in Burnsville, Minnesota. DataNab designed a series of custom software applications for remote monitoring and control/automation that has simplified life for Briggs and the three-man maintenance staff. 

The complete solution includes:
Two Barionet devices at each school to monitor analog/digital signals from multiple systems
Barix R6 relay devices with contact closures to remotely switch systems on and off
Barix TS temperature sensors to feed readings back to the Barionet and over the network, imperative to minimizing energy costs
DataNab Ai32 modules to allow for 32 input channels in addition to the eight Barionet inputs, greatly increasing the number of systems that can be monitored over the network

"We essentially created a solution to provide all of the vital system information on a single screen, including the status of every critical HVAC unit connected to the network via the Barionet,” said Adam VanOort, President of DataNab. “We designed a web-based GUI that allows a network of Barionets to pass information from multiple sites and locations so that maintenance personnel can access critical information from throughout the district on a single browser, from any location on the network. The Barionet is very flexible, and the amount of detail that they are getting from the solution is impressive.”

In addition to daily status readings, the Barionet reports issues in need of immediate responses via e-mail. This allows Briggs to log onto the network – from King Salmon or anywhere else in the world — to identify the problem. Briggs can then quickly locate a teacher or village technician to address the situation and prevent a catastrophic failure.

"Alarms typically activate the e-mails from the Barionet, and then the system in danger flashes in red or another color on the GUI,” said Briggs. “This means we are doing more and more preventative maintenance versus putting out fires. As a result, the team can schedule travel plans more efficiently when necessary and reduce expenses related to last-minute travel costs.”

All Barix products are low-power devices that are scalable to the growth of the operation; offer reliability through a PC-FREE design with no moving parts; and serve as a flexible platform for integration into virtually any operation requiring audio or control transport and delivery over a network. Barix also offers its open programmable BCL standard to all customers to easily tailor applications for specific needs. Local control, audio relay, and low-latency streaming are a few examples of custom programs written within the Barix' BCL software environment.

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