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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Delivers Live, Interactive Zoo Experience to Remote Schools Using Cisco Wireless Network


Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is making a trip to the zoo an entirely new experience for school kids around the country.

The zoo is now providing video learning programs from many of its animal exhibits throughout the 168-acre park using Cisco® wireless mesh technology provided by Total Systems Integration, Inc. TSI is a Cisco Premier Certified Partner, Advanced Wireless, and Wireless Mesh Authorized Technology Provider (ATP).

Prior to the implementation of wireless technology, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo would broadcast animal education programs from within the walls of its two media centers. This meant that program presenters had to show animals in their zoo exhibits through the use of pictures and videos. Today, a program about orangutans, for example, can be broadcast from the actual viewing area where the primates reside.

“For those children who may not be able to easily visit a zoo and learn about these wonderful animals, this is really the best possible alternative,” said Cathy Ryan, education specialist and distance-learning coordinator for Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. “When children can see the animals from their exhibits in vivid detail, and interact with the program presenters, the result is a much richer learning experience. Our return on investment is the excitement on the students’ faces.”

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo currently offers more than 30 program titles free of charge, available to any K-12 school across the country throughout the year. The response thus far from participating schools has been very positive. “This program allows the students to learn not just by hearing, but by seeing, doing, and being a part of the activity,” said Dianne Keller, librarian and high school technology coordinator for the Gladewater Independent School District in Texas. “This has been a very effective way for our students to learn about animals.”

To enable interactive video feeds from animal exhibit areas, TSI crafted a mobile video studio that is housed on a rolling cart. It can be easily transported to many areas around the Zoo for distance-learning programs. As the zoo’s strategic technology advisor, TSI also designed, deployed and supports the wireless network. The outdoor wireless network comprises 20 Cisco Aironet® 1500 Series lightweight outdoor mesh access points and wireless LAN controller, which provide wireless connectivity to the mobile studio.

“Given the variety of terrain and structures at the zoo, wireless mesh was the best technology available to create high-performing and low-latency coverage areas for video,” said Bob Lynch, director of sales and marketing for TSI. “Cleveland Metroparks Zoo can now share its great knowledge of animals and conservation efforts with people anywhere in the world. We’re excited to be able to deliver a leading-edge communications solution that is changing the zoo experience for students across the country.”

Internet connectivity to the zoo is provided by OneCommunity, a non-profit organization that provides broadband network access to educational, government, research, arts, and cultural, non-profit and healthcare organizations.


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