Wi-Fi solutions provider Xirrus announced today (15 January 2014) that Brent Council in London, UK has deployed Xirrus access points (APs) to deliver a high-performance Wi-Fi network for its 2,600 staff and the visiting public at its headquarters, leisure and care centres.
Brent Council selected Xirrus to deploy 70 Xirrus wireless arrays across eight floors of the council's brand new headquarters, which includes its library and care facilities. The installation was completed in less than three weeks and has already had a very positive impact on the council's internal and external operations.
The council selected Xirrus due to its unique multi-radio array architecture, which requires significantly fewer access points to provide robust, high quality coverage and excellent Wi-Fi throughput across large spaces.
Stephan Conaway, CIO at Brent Council, commented: "In choosing a wireless provider, it was crucial for us to be able to demonstrate cost efficiencies and minimal disruption to council operations. Competitors quoted us between 240 - 300 access points, whereas with Xirrus we were able to deploy 70, which had obvious cost-benefits as fewer arrays meant considerably less cabling, switch ports and energy usage.
“Flexibility was another differentiator as was future-proofing our investment. This is an important factor as we approach the standardisation of 802.11ac in 2014 since we can easily add or swap 802.11ac modules into the existing Xirrus modular array chassis."
The introduction of wireless connectivity has improved employee productivity and delivered cost savings through streamlining internal processes. Staff are now able to access documents and resources at anytime from their mobile devices, while visitors and members of the public are able to use the free Wi-Fi when using council facilities in the library and care centre.
On a typical day 1,400 staff and 400 visitors will be active on the wireless network at the same time. On heavy work days and at peak times, the user numbers will easily exceed 2,000. All staff have smart phones enabled for Council email and for a range of productivity applications and a third of staff work with iPads as part of their daily work. The wireless connectivity makes paperless working a reality.
The heightened consumer demand for connectivity was a key driver behind the council's investment in Wi-Fi. In the library, school pupils and members of the public are able to use Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as iPads, smart phones and Wi-Fi enabled laptops. The library itself maintains a lending library of iPads and laptops for public use.
People are free to move around the library when learning, reading or conducting research, whereas previously they were confined to a connected PC at a desk. Since introducing the wireless network, Brent has seen a several fold increase in visitors to its central library with more members of the public coming in to use library facilities. Members of the public are also able to make use of free Wi-Fi when using care services or when walking about the new building or eating in the cafe.
"We believe that Wi-Fi is mission critical to council operations, helping us provide high-quality services to members of the public as well as creating a productive working environment for our staff. We were very impressed with Xirrus' approach to the whole project, from the initial consultancy to the final delivery and are looking to introduce additional Xirrus access points and arrays in the coming months," added Conaway. The performance of the Xirrus installation in the new Civic Centre is excellent.
Sean Larner, VP International at Xirrus, said: "The proliferation of mobile devices means we continue to see mass demand for Wi-Fi everywhere, whether it be civil servants capturing information on iPads in the office or school pupils using e-readers in the local library.
“The installation of Brent is an example of how local councils are utilising high-capacity Wi-Fi to overhaul the service they provide to the public. This smart approach to IT enables the introduction of BYOD schemes and gives staff paperless access to documents on the go, promoting a better flow of information and saving valuable time and resources."
Brent plans to continue the deployment of additional Xirrus wireless arrays throughout the remaining Brent administration buildings and libraries to provide a single borough wide WLAN in early 2014.
See also interview with Stepan Conaway:
Xirrus Wi-Fi network provides new ways of working at Brent Council