The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) is the UK campus of Queen’s University. The campus which comprises of several buildings is situated at Herstmonceux Castle, its impressive design, unique brickwork, beautiful gardens and idyllic setting within the Sussex landscape have attracted people for the past 500 years. Today it continues to attract students interested in actively participating in a unique learning experience in an international setting.
The BISC had a legacy WiFi network which required redesigning and upgrading to accommodate the ever-increasing digital requirements of a modern university. The existing WiFi network was not performing efficiently enough to cater for the needs of the size of the campus and the number of students it accommodated.
Many factors needed to be considered, including; the size of the buildings, the required coverage, the number of devices accessing the network (capacity), current infrastructure, interference, and the construction of the building (in this case a castle).
Performance Networks were awarded the project following a tender process carried out during 2019. Engineers conducted a WiFi survey – an essential part of the planning and design phase of a wireless network in any set of premises or location – and advised the BISC on what solution would provide the most stable, secure WiFi network to meet their needs.
The environment was challenging. The Herstmonceux estate consisted of an area which spread across 550 acres, which also housed students in their on-site accommodation. Coverage was required across the entire facility.
The stability and coverage of the WiFi network within the student accommodation was particularly important in providing students with a home from home experience, along with much needed security when accessing educational learning online. The solution provided by Performance Networks needed to ensure that students could stream, game, watch, study and share online -securely and reliably.
Performance Networks commissioned a state-of-the-art Extreme Networks solution providing the BISC with full coverage and fast WiFi across the facility along with a centralised control and analytics solution.
The Extreme Cloud IQ dashboard provides in depth usage and performance metrics along with network-wide visibility, allowing hassle free ongoing management and fault resolution for the BISC IT team.
As student experience and wellbeing is of the highest priority to the BISC, Performance Networks utilised the Private Pre-Shared Key (PPSK) feature offered by Extreme in the student accommodation buildings.
PPSK provides each student with their own secure private network. Meaning they can connect devices like smart TV’s, games consoles and other IOT devices just like they would at home. This also removes any log in screens and security issues that are common with standard public or guest networks and in turn improves the user experience.
The project was delivered within tight timescales over an academic holiday to ensure any disruption to ongoing operations was minimised.
We were grateful that Performance Networks pulled out all the stops to deliver a project within a very tight timescale and to budget. From the planning to the implementation, the Performance Network team worked closely with the BISC IT team, ensuring what was provided best suited the BISC’s needs. And even when things did not go to plan, the Performance Networks team adapted quickly to the new situation and came up with alternative approaches which delivered the same objectives to the same cost. The rural location and older buildings with their associated infrastructure make any BISC IT project a challenge, but Performance Networks overcame every obstacle without hesitation, delivered as promised and followed up with post-implementation support which was unfailing. We would happily turn to Performance Networks again for future projects.Sarah Butler – Librarian and Head of Learning