Following the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games, civil engineering contractor BAM Nuttall won the contract to transform the Olympic Park into a residential and public park, known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP).
The main works involved either entirely dismantling or modifying various stadiums and arenas, including the velodrome and aquatic centre, along with the redesign of footpaths, roads and bridges, as well putting in cycle ways and new access routes. The transformation project lasted from late 2012 to mid-2014.
Critical to the success of the project was the provision of wireless connectivity and an internet connection to ensure all contractors and other parties involved on the project could communicate and operate seamlessly.
Rob Youster, head of ICT at BAM Nuttall (pictured today), explains: ‘The strategy is everyone is connected. Essentially, the wireless system is for data transfer. When you get on site there is a need to access IT within a couple of days, with email being a key feature. We use cloud solutions and have our own data centre, and this allows staff to tap into live data and document management systems, such as autoCAD drawings, which are very large.’
BAM Nuttall brought in Trellisworks to create a wireless network as a managed service, along with the provision of an IP-CCTV infrastructure to ensure the site was secure over the two years. The two companies were both familiar with each other and the site, as they had partnered on the original Olympic 2012 construction and enabling project lasting from 2007 to 2012.
Trellisworks established a 100Mbps point-to-point radio link directed from the roof of Telehouse North (where internet bandwidth is sourced) through to BAM Nuttall’s initial site offices in commercial property in the centre of nearby Stratford.
Following the relocation of its offices onto the QEOP main site in early 2013, Trellisworks set up two further full duplex 100Mbps links to provide internet access as part of a fully managed service.
Both of these links went back to the Trellisworks’ base station on the roof of Guy’s Hospital, 14km away. Many internal site wireless links were also installed around the main site itself to provide remote locations with access to the network centre.
In addition to this, Trellisworks established an IP-CCTV infrastructure around the entire site, installing around 30 static and PTZ (point, tilt and zoom) Axis cameras to wirelessly link to a security network housed in the main site complex. This was a 24hr, fully guarded security network housed in the main site complex.
A wireless solution was the only choice at QEOP as there was no chance of installing wired solutions underground on the 560-acre site due to the nature of the work and the many different phases of construction both on the original construction contract and the legacy project.
For the latter, BAM Nuttall had an advantage in that its wireless infrastructure was still in place after the Games finished, so all the connections were there, whereas anyone else bidding for the contract would have had to build them from scratch.
‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit tower was a great location for the wireless equipment, so we established a point-to-point connection from there to Guy’s Hospital. It is perfect as there is nothing to get in the way.’
Youster says one of the challenges of the first contract was that the RF environment kept changing as the new buildings and venues were constructed, necessitating a fairly frequent change in position of the wireless equipment to maintain line of sight.
The opposite was the case on the legacy project as the RF environment got easier as the temporary venues were dismantled. ‘There were more cranes but because of the height of the Orbit, the fact that we knew the site well by then, and because we were the main contractor for the project this time, we were more in control,’ says Youster.
He adds that the amount of data created by the CCTV was a challenge, as when it is transmitted off site it can create a bottleneck, so the team had to keep redesigning the radio system to ensure the CCTV was prioritised.
Summing up, Youster says: ‘Our strategy is to establish perimeter wireless connectivity across every construction site, as we believe everyone should be connected in some way. We can’t wait three months to get a fixed line from BT and we need a VPN back into our data centre anyway.’