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October 21, 2005

Case Highlighted in Network World High-Tech Dorm Story

I don't know how many of you rss network world but this story is currently the #4 story of most online read stories from this week's issue of Network World.

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This story appeared on Network World at

High-tech dorms move to head of the class at colleges

By John Cox, Network World, 10/17/05

Spanking-new student dormitories at Case Western Reserve University and Duke University show how living on campus increasingly means being networked and digitized.

The residence halls incorporate sophisticated wired and wireless data networks, environmental and building management systems backhauled over the campus IP network, and a wide range of services such as streaming video including cable TV over IP, networked clothes washers and improved cellular voice coverage. While full VoIP services are still rare on campus, dorm infrastructures are being planned with VoIP in mind.

Spending on new or retrofitted dorms varies widely depending on school size and on the private or public funds that can be raised to pay for them. But most schools plan to use networks to deliver more technology-based services to student residences; to improve security; and to monitor and control lighting, heating and cooling.

"Students spend 15 to 18 hours a week, at most, in classrooms," says David Futey, associate director of academic computing at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., and chairman of the ResNet Symposium, a group of higher-education administrators and others who focus on IT for students in residences. "So [residence networks] are evolving at some institutions: as the [network] infrastructure matures, the goal is providing a more-consistent suite of services for students no matter where they are."

The Association of College and University Housing Officers International (ACUHO-I) in Columbus, Ohio, is tackling some of these issues as part of its 21st Century Project, which is charged with creating specifications for a prototype state-of-the-art residence hall. ACUHO-I consists of 5,800 individuals from more than 900 colleges and universities and more than 205 companies.The first summit meeting for the project is scheduled for early 2006.

Case Western Reserve, in Cleveland, shows what money and a comprehensive view of network technologies can create. The residential part of the new $126-million "Village at 115" hosts more than 700 students in seven separate "houses" to keep the number of students in each fairly small. The rooms in each house vary in size, for one to nine students.

The Village's distribution hub interconnects the school's Cisco-based 10G bit/sec fiber backbone to Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches and the premises' Cat6E cabling. A wall plate in every dorm room has one VoIP port and two data ports.

All areas in the residences are blanketed with an 802.11g wireless LAN (WLAN) based on 140 Cisco Aironet 1231g access points. Even the football and track fields are covered wirelessly by four Vivato VP2210 Wi-Fi base stations. To support the access points, Case Western uses Cisco's 6148 X2 line card. "It splits each gigabit port into two 100-megabit ports," says Steven Organiscak, special projects manager with the university's IT Services. "For applications where you don't need a full gigabit, and for [IP] phones, 100-meg is fine. It essentially doubles the density in that one blade slot."

The combination of wired and wireless is now standard operating procedure for Case Western dorms. "The theory is that 54M bit/sec WLAN is nice and convenient, but it's supplemental to the wired net," Organiscak says. "In high-density areas, it's a shared medium. The wired net gives us redundancy."

Each house has an information kiosk in a common area: a large plasma screen and keyboard that displays news via CNN, local weather from the campus weather station, water and electrical consumption, trend data gleaned from the building's monitoring systems and e-mail access. A dozen group-study areas at each site are designed to let students work together or with a faculty member: each has eight wired data ports, along with a projection screen and whiteboard.

To maximize energy efficiency, the new structures followed guidelines in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design project, organized by the U.S. Green Building Council. Part of it involves super insulation, low-flow toilets and sinks, gas-filled double-paned windows and motion sensors to regulate light levels. "We expect more than 25% reduction in energy costs," says Don Kamalsky, assistant vice president of student affairs and director of housing.

But Case Western also is trying to encourage efficient habits in students. "You can only do so much structurally, then it depends on the residents to live efficiently with energy," says Gene Matthews, director of facilities services for the university. Data on electric, water and other utilities is collected via a building management system from Johnson Controls. The data flows over the IP network to displays monitored by Matthews' staff. His group is working with the IT department to create an array of data management, analysis and display tools.

They're able to send summaries of the data back to the dorms.

"We're capturing data on utility consumption and we show the statistics on the big-screen TV in the lobby [of each residence], so they can see what's happening," Matthews says. "We're trying to involve our building occupants by giving them this feedback."
Wired and wireless Duke

Duke University's new Bell Tower residence hall in Durham, N.C., is a more-modest project: 130 freshman students, most in double rooms, with study space on each floor. Duke designed the site with wired and wireless networks in mind. In rooms, each student has a 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet LAN port.

For every three rooms, Bell Tower has a Cisco 1020 802.11a/b/g thin access point, and three 4136 controllers. Most of the traffic is 802.11g, which has a 54M bit/sec data rate in the 2.4-GHz band, though actual throughput is less than half of that.

The network group turned down the radio power, and disabled the slower 802.11 connection speeds to maximize throughput and signal quality for the users in a given area, says Kevin Miller, network architect with Duke's Network Technologies Group.

Those changes make it possible to run four channels of cable TV over the WLAN. "It requires multicasting, and we set it at a rate achievable in the dorm: 610K bit/sec," Miller says.

After extensive discussion, Duke opted to deploy 802.1X authentication and security throughout the campus. "The 802.1X authentication

Posted by lsg8 at October 21, 2005 10:53 AM and tagged Bytes 

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