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Connected schools

Industry 4.0 is transforming education

It’s been clear for years that teaching models need to change. British journalist George Monbiot noted that today’s schools and universities were established for the needs of a factory workforce in the 19th and 20th century industrial eras. Many experts feel they’re not designed to generate the creativity and innovation required in a workforce for the 21st century and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Government strategies were underway globally to bring digital skills into education, but implementation looked set to stretch over several years. Then 2020 arrived, and the pandemic changed everything.

As COVID-19 infections spread, governments locked down all but essential services. Although education is clearly essential, the physical proximity of students in classroom-based teaching meant that governments canceled exams and ordered educational establishments to close. Lessons stopped for an estimated 1.6 billion learners worldwide. And, unfortunately, millions of students could not access such facilities and missed months of education at all levels.

Ensuring continuity of education, everywhere from remote areas in the developing world to rural and low-income urban areas in the developed world, has become more important than ever because it impacts the economic and social strength of national economies. 

The challenge facing the education sector is that high speed broadband coverage needs to increase dramatically to ensure students can access engaging learning and development resources remotely. 

Bridging the digital divide

Every day we hear stories of families driving miles and spending hours in parking lots of restaurants or public Wi-Fi hotspots to give their children a chance to participate in distance learning, due to a lack of broadband internet at home.

During the pandemic, anchor institutions, cities/counties and non-profits across the country rose to the challenge of bridging the digital divide in their communities. 

Local governments can play a decisive role in overcoming these challenges by prioritizing broadband initiatives and collaborating with private companies such as Nokia. With our partners, we serve the specific needs of school districts and local communities through best-in-breed broadband communications solutions that are fast and easy to deploy and manage.

Nokia’s Private wireless solution – Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) with FastMile CPE — can help cities, counties and educational entities ensure students’ access to online learning from the comfort and safety of their homes. 

The same solution will ensure broadband connectivity and business continuity for city services, such as community centers, hospitals and libraries, and improve the safety of public employees as they can work from home in compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.

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Closing the digital divide: the future of education is connected

Government funding creates opportunities, communication technology enables solutions

To minimize the disruption and close the technology gap, many governments have started rolling out COVID-19 relief programs and are investing in or subsidizing initiatives for broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption.

In the US, for example, the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established a $US150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to help state, local and tribal governments navigate the impact of COVID-19.

A considerable part of this amount will be invested in residential broadband infrastructure to facilitate distance learning, especially in rural and underserved areas. Independent school districts (ISDs) are playing a crucial role in defining strategies and establishing partnerships to utilize these funds for providing students and families with laptops and affordable internet access.

Some schools and communities are opting for a DIY approach that involves integrating a mix of building blocks such as Wi-Fi access points, internet routers and open-source software into a single network. But many lack the technical skills and resources they need to succeed with these efforts. And although DIY solutions may look cheaper on paper, in most cases they turn out to be more expensive after commissioning.

An alternative, less risky, approach is to partner with established solution providers to build and roll out a network based on proven technology and future-safe industry standards.

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The Future of Schools is connected!

CBRS opens new doors for wireless in the US

While government funding has been a major enabler for these networks, the availability of spectrum is certainly another one. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is the result of a joint effort between the FCC and industry to share existing 3.5 GHz radio spectrum and make it available for private networks in the US. The CBRS band can be used for LTE and, because it is unlicensed or lightly licensed, it is applicable and affordable for the education sector, too. It provides a unique opportunity for schools and other public facilities, such as libraries and hospitals, to quickly and cost-effectively deploy LTE-based wireless broadband that provides ample coverage and capacity in suburban and unserved urban areas.

The CBRS is proving to be the best and most viable option for communities in these areas. For example, the projects in Collinsville and Bexar County have both made successful use of the CBRS band. To make deployment simpler we have partnered with Key Bridge Wireless to provide the first pre-integrated turnkey CBRS solution. The solution combines Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) infrastructure from Key Bridge with our private 4.9G/LTE and 5G solutions, which include CBRS endpoints, CBRS-certified radio, transport, core and applications.

Making schools and higher education campuses smarter

Higher education institutions are also seeking to rapidly digitalize their operations so they can better serve the changing needs of students, academic staff and researchers on their campuses. To succeed, they must evolve their wireless communications infrastructure to offer higher-performing applications and tools that will help their staff and students work more productively. 

Until now, their main approach has been to install new or upgrade existing Wi-Fi networks. But Wi-Fi technology is starting to show limitations in its ability to meet the increased demands of mobility, latency, throughput and total cost of ownership. 

Private wireless 4.9G/LTE and 5G networks can power next-generation campus services and operations, enabling higher education institutions to leverage standardized technologies and new spectrum options to provide the security, reliability, coverage, mobility, capacity and flexibility that digital and Industry 4.0 applications demand. By complementing Wi-Fi with private wireless networks, they can power a new generation of mission-critical campus services and operational capabilities that address the changing needs of staff and students while reducing network cost of ownership.

Powering university research, education and collaboration

Academic research and education bolster a region or a country’s innovation, and economic competitiveness and growth. Therefore, advanced R&E networks are key assets to develop, experiment and demonstrate Industry 4.0 technologies and use cases.  

High performance, private wireless networks and edge computing platforms enable ‘living labs’ for researching, developing, testing and demonstrating new 5G-based applications, business models and use cases driven by immersive, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technologies.

These lab capabilities will boost industry-academia collaboration, and eventually enable critical sectors like energy, healthcare and first responders to reach new levels of efficiency and productivity.

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Research and Education Networks

Advance discoveries with networks that deliver future-ready performance.

Use cases for 4.9G/LTE and 5G campus networks

Possible use cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Equipping classrooms and auditoriums with smart boards, smart podiums or smart lighting.
  • Providing staff and students with access to broadband access and office productivity tools on their mobile devices.
  • Creating augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) classrooms that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  • Enabling labs to study and research Industry 4.0 technologies for business- and mission-critical IoT applications across many industries.
  • Optimizing building, water, power and environmental management with building automation and control systems.
  • Easing the deployment of surveillance cameras, smoke sensors and emergency call buttons across the campus; These applications can be complemented with drone- or robot-based surveillance.
  • Keeping academic and operations staff connected with group communication applications such as push-to-talk (PTT) and push-to-video (PTV).
  • Using connected digital billboards to spread general information, provide emergency announcements, help with wayfinding, engage visitors and make campus life simpler.
  • Providing secure point-of-sale terminals throughout the campus to support ticket sales, food and beverage services, concerts and events. These capabilities can be complemented with drone- or autonomous vehicle-based delivery services.

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Making schools and higher education campuses smarter

Explore how Nokia is enabling the future of education

Nokia is the undisputed leader in private wireless networks and critical communications. Our solutions are part of Nokia Bell Labs’ Future X architecture, leveraging Nokia’s leadership in wireless networking, broadband access, IP and optical transport, cloud platforms and cyber security.

The future of education is now!

Even in the year 2021, bridging the digital divide is a bigger challenge for cities, school districts and schools than what we may have perceived. But providing cost-effective and reliable broadband access to facilitate distance learning for students in unserved or underserved households is perfectly possible. Thanks to private wireless solutions, there’s no need for costly, time-consuming digging of trenches and cabling to extend broadband to homes. No more hassle and hidden costs with DIY solutions. And IT administrators have full control and visibility of the network, users, devices and applications.

Elementary, middle, high school and university staff and students can benefit from private for 4.9G and 5G networks that provide them with fast and affordable broadband services to access learning and development resources remotely. While the same network infrastructure can be used for digitalizing campuses, enabling research and powering operations.

The future of education is connected, and it’s powered by Nokia.

Accelerate digital-era success with the power of intelligent networks

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