Redbridge Libraries in London are required to provide internet access to the community, especially to those who cannot easily get online. But their ability to do provide digital inclusion was made difficult, because they were suffering issues with the reliability of their WiFi service. Customers were experiencing log-in difficulties and the group help desk often struggled to keep up. Their existing WiFi service offering was providing guest WiFi from another supplier – it simply wasn’t working well, and service was poor.
They had too many instances where the WiFi connection was lost at one or all libraries and they were receiving numerous complaints from their service users. When a complaint was raised with the help desk, staff found them only to be reactive, rather than proactive – if indeed they could be reached in the first place.
Ultimately, with the increase in the number of customers bringing their own devices to the libraries, the pressure on the network was simply too much. Redbridge Libraries rightly realised that their service was no longer fit for purpose.
Redbridge Libraries believed that customers coming to their facilities should expect a reliable service. As this wasn’t the case for long periods of time, visitors became frustrated and the number of complaints their staff received rocketed.
The lack of a reliable WiFi service was beginning to portray Redbridge Libraries in a very bad light and visitors began to question the value of the libraries. Staff were becoming demoralised after having to deal with constant complaints from customers about any unclear timetable as to when the WiFi would be working again.
In our initial site visit, we visited all 10 library locations to ascertain the reason for the current issues and design a new fast and robust network. After our survey, we identified the need for better coverage; we increased the amount of access points and improved positioning to provide full coverage. We also installed higher capacity lines to increase speeds.
The libraries benefited from the SupaFi guest registration and management service to ensure compliance and validation of users onto the WiFi, along with our content filtering service to ensure only appropriate content could be accessed. The job also contained very tight timescales. The contract ended with previous supplier and they had set cancellation dates on lines. That meant we were required to install and transfer all new lines within a three-week period, as well as to install the new equipment in the libraries at the same time
From day one, Performance Networks was incredibly flexible and offered to work with us to identify the issues and mould their services to our needs. From the very beginning their helpdesk was very responsive – often alerting us to a problem before we even knew there was one and always keeping us up to date with progress reports.
Performance Networks also dealt with our customers directly as sometimes a problem can derive from a setting on their device that is preventing them from accessing the WiFi. Regular performance reviews are also undertaken and they suggest ideas to improve our service, e.g. advertising, etc.
When we took over the network at Redbridge Libraries it supported 13,000 users per month. Last year, the system averaged 72,000 users per month. From the first meeting to completion, the project took less than two months. We continue to provide full support and proactive monitoring for the libraries and their customers, seven days a week.
Our new WiFi service is now virtually fault-free, and customer complaints are almost non-existent. We are now able to run iPad sessions to promote our online resources and offer digital skills training – particularly to the older generation who are now increasingly using IT.
Our customers can now register for WiFi in our libraries with no issues and without help from staff. We also have access to reports on usage and the service is fast and reliable. We couldn’t be any happier.