The University of Essex

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Overview

Based in the heart of Southend-on-Sea, The University of Essex’s Southend Campus opened in 2007. The first development was the Gateway Building, a modern, state-of-the-art facility situated near to the high street in a busy town centre location. The second was a recently acquired deconsecrated church in a historical part of the town called Nelson Mews. This former church was to become the home of the university’s innovative East 15 acting school.

Challenge

The church was successfully converted into an auditorium and several studios but when it came to establishing a communications link between this and the Gateway Building it soon became clear that traditional network options provided neither an attractive nor a practical solution. The university considered several options. Wireless was ruled out for two main reasons. Firstly, attaching a dish to the church’s steeple would have been unsightly and out of character with the area. Secondly, line of sight is renowned for disturbance with trees and birds causing interruptions that can seriously impact services. Brian Wilby, Deputy Director of Computing Services, who is responsible for networks at the University of Essex comments: “Both line of sight and a number of cabling options were quickly dismissed. They would have created lengthy disruption to traffic through the town centre and the routes would have been hampered by existing trees and ageing underground pipe work. There just didn’t seem to be a sensible option.”

Solution

Following a consultation, it was decided that using a combination of sewer network and existing CCTV camera ducts to lay the cabling would meet their requirements. The proposed solution was then outlined to the local Council who give it their seal of approval.

Results

Patented technology designed for laying cables in the sewers provided a fast and cost-effective way to link up the two locations. As well as the deployment process being considerably faster than traditional methods, avoiding the costs that would usually arise from the complex negotiations required to dig up roads and pavements, enabled additional savings for the client.

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