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Intercom Systems Offer Flexible, Creative Uses

Jun 4, 2008 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes


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Walk into any school—be it K-12 classrooms or a college campus—and most likely, there is an intercom system installed there. School intercoms serve a wide range of communication needs—including announcements, direct classroom-to-office calls, regional paging, and emergency warnings. And while the presence of such systems has not changed, the technology and infrastructure running them definitely has. Schools are using AV technology and IT architecture to greatly enhance what most of us remember as either a literal school bell ringing or a monotonous beep signaling the start of the school day.

"Traditional school intercom systems are 'clock and bell' systems. They are simply a bell system synchronized with a clock system," says David Parmenter, regional manager and education specialist for Teradon Industries, manufacturer of the Teracom intercom system. "Most traditional intercom systems have microprocessor cards with 8-12 embedded tones that are programmed to ring at a certain time in a certain area. There is no flexibility in the type of tone, other than those set choices."

The computer-based Teracom system takes the traditional intercom system several leaps forward. "Users can customize their tones because the system uses .wav files, which provides much more flexibility," Parmenter says. "Schools can be creative and use the school fight song to start the day, or can use the system for emergency preparedness by prerecording an emergency announcement."

Parmenter recently worked with a school district in Fresno, Calif., which used its Teracom system as part of a drunk-driving awareness campaign. To remind students that someone dies from a drunk driving accident every 15 minutes, the school played the recorded audio of the flat line sound from an EEG machine at 15 minute intervals throughout the day. The school's bell schedule was easily modified for that day using the system's user interface.

Based in Albuquerque, N.M., Teradon Industries was formed in 1992 with the invention of a telephone control system for the education market. The company has seen the market change and applications grow as their technology focus evolved to media management and, eventually, to intercom systems. Today, Teradon sells products such as the Teracom system through a network of dealers and contractors who conduct the installation and programming. In addition to the education market, Teracom systems are also in use in the corporate and travel markets.





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