Gathering site-specific documentation

  • During the site survey interview (and prior to the site survey), proper documentation about the facility and network must be obtained.
  • Additionally, site survey checklists should be created and adhered to during the physical survey.

Before the site survey interview, you must obtain some critical documentation from the customer:

  • Blueprints
    • You need a floor plan layout in order to discuss coverage and capacity needs with network administration personnel.
    • Keep in mind that capacity and coverage requirements will be preplanned.
    • Photocopies of the floor plan will also need to be created and used to record the RF measurements that are taken during the physical site survey, as well as to record the locations of hardware placement.
    • Site survey tools allow you to import floor plans, and the software will record the survey results on the floor plan for you.
    • Blueprints can be located via a variety of sources:
      • The original architect of the building will probably still have a copy of the blueprints.
      • Many public and private buildings’ floor plans might also be located at a public government resource such as city hall or the fire department.
      • Businesses are usually required to post a fire escape plan. Many site surveys have been conducted using a simple fire escape plan that has been drawn to scale if blueprints cannot be located.
      • In a worst-case scenario, you may have to use some graph paper and map out the floor plan manually.
  • Topographic Map
    • f an outdoor site survey is planned, a topographic map, also called a contour map, will be needed.
    • Contour maps display Terrain information such as:
      • Elevations
      • Forest cover
      • Locations of streams
      • Bodies of water
  • Network Topology Map
    • Understanding the layout of the customer’s current wired network infrastructure will speed up the site survey process and allow for better planning of the WLAN during the design phase.
    • A computer network topology map will provide necessary information such as the location of the wiring closets and layer 3 boundaries.
    • Acquiring a network topology map from the customer is a highly recommended practice that will result in a well-designed and properly integrated WLAN.
  • Security Credentials
    • You might need proper security authorization to access facilities when conducting the site survey.
    • Meeting with security personnel and/or the facilities manager in advance of the survey will be necessary in order to meet all physical security requirements.
    • It is always a good idea to have the network administrator alert everyone that you will be in the area.

As a site survey professional, you will have created your own documentation or necessary checklists that will be used during the site survey interview as well as during the actual physical survey.
There are several types of survey checklists:

  • Interview Checklist
    • A detailed checklist containing all the questions to be asked during the site survey interview should be created in advance.
  • Installation Checklist
    • Many site survey professionals prefer to record all installation details on the floor plan documents.
    • An installation checklist detailing hardware placement and mounting for each individual access point is also an option.
    • Information about AP location, antenna type, antenna orientation, mounting devices, and power sources may be logged.
  • Equipment Checklist
    • For organizational purposes, document a checklist of all the hardware and software tools used during the survey

Deliverables

  • After the interview process has been completed and the survey has been conducted, a final report must be delivered to the customer.
  • Information gathered during the site survey will be organized and formatted into a professional technical report for the customer’s review.
  • Compiled information contained in the deliverables will include the following:
    • Purpose Statement
      • The final report should begin with a WLAN purpose statement that stipulates the customer requirements and business justification for the WLAN.
    • Spectrum Analysis
      • Be sure to identify potential sources of interference.
    • RF Coverage Analysis
      • Define RF cell boundaries.
    • Hardware Placement and Configuration
      • Recommend AP placement
      • Antenna orientation
      • Channel reuse pattern
      • Power settings
      • Any other AP-specific information such as installation techniques and cable routing
    • Capacity and Performance Analysis
      • Include results from application throughput testing, which is sometimes an optional analysis report included with the final survey report.
  • Pictures can be used to record:
    • AP placement
    • Identify problems interfering RF devices
    • Identify potential installation problems such as a solid ceiling or concrete walls.
  • Other recommendations and reports to be provided along with the site survey report:
    • Vendor Recommendations
    • Implementation Diagrams
      • Based on information collected during the site survey, a final design diagram will be presented to the customer.
      • The implementation diagram is basically a wireless topology map that illustrates where the access points will be installed and how the wireless network will be integrated into the existing wired infrastructure.
      • AP placement, VLANs, and layer 3 boundaries will all be clearly defined.
    • Bill of Materials
      • Along with the implementation diagrams will be a detailed bill of materials (BOM) that itemizes every hardware and software component necessary for the final installation of the wireless network.
      • The model number and quantity of each piece of equipment will be necessary. This includes access points, bridges, wireless switches, antennas, cabling, connectors, and lightning arrestors.
    • Project Schedule and Costs
      • A detailed deployment schedule should be drafted that outlines:
        • All timelines
        • Equipment costs
        • Labor costs
        • Particular attention should be paid to the schedule dependencies, such as delivery times and licensing, if applicable.
    • Security Solution Recommendations
      • Security expectations should be discussed during the site survey interview.
      • Based on these discussions, the surveying company will make comprehensive wireless security recommendations.
      • All aspects of authentication, authorization, accounting, encryption, and segmentation should be included in the security recommendations documentation.
    • Wireless Policy Recommendations
      • An addendum to the security recommendations might be corporate wireless policy recommendations.
      • You might need to assist the customer in drafting a wireless network security policy if they do not already have one.
    • Training Recommendations
      • One of the most overlooked areas when deploying new solutions is proper training.
      • It is highly recommended that wireless administration and security training sessions be scheduled with the customer’s network personnel.
      • Additionally, condensed training sessions should be scheduled with all end users.
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