Reliance High-Tech takes the university challenge at UCL with dedicated on-site team


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As well as offering an unrivalled level of higher education, University College London (UCL) is also committed to keeping students, staff and visitors as safe as possible. This is achieved thanks to an ongoing partnership and framework agreement with Reliance High-Tech, which applies its expertise across the entire UCL estate.

Now one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary universities, UCL was founded in 1826 to open up higher education to those who had previously been excluded from it and in 1878 was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms with men. With more than 21,000 staff and nearly 40,000 students from 150 different countries, UCL is now the largest higher education institution in London. As a measure of its ongoing international success, it recently came eighth in the 2020 QS World University Rankings, making it the highest rated institution in London, third in the UK overall and fourth in Europe.

Mix and match

UCL comprises a complex multi-site estate of over 230 historic and modern buildings, which are located across greater London and beyond. The day-to-day supervision of its security services infrastructure is the responsibility of a dedicated on-site team, which aims to run the operation in line with UCL’s commitment to keep people safe as they go about their business.

“UCL has always taken a great deal of pride in its determination to lead from the front, which is why we have always taken our security infrastructure seriously,” explains Mike Dawe, UCL’s Security Systems Manager.

The team at UCL oversees a broad range of security issues on a regular basis including the provision of ID and/or entry cards, the installation and maintenance of CCTV and access control systems, the management of a video management system (VMS), as well as offering general advice on any security matters. With such a diverse estate and an “open campus” policy, UCL required expert systems integration. So two years ago, after carrying out a review of its provision in this area, Mike initiated an in-depth tender process and invited Reliance High-Tech to take part.

Perfect fit

As one of the UK’s independent electronic security systems integrators serving major public and private sector organisations, Bracknell-based, Reliance High-Tech boasts over 40 years of experience and has highly accredited in-house design, installation and maintenance teams.

“We have an enviable track record in successfully working across a variety of large and unique estates, so when we were offered the chance to tender I was confident that our skills and experience would be a great match for UCL,” states Don Dixon, Reliance High-Tech’s Corporate Solutions Manager. “We were delighted to win the contract based mainly on our ability as an organisation to offer high-level integration skills and IT knowledge. We welcomed the opportunity help maintain a consistent security solution across UCL’s entire multi-site estate, which includes over 900 cameras and 2,000 doors, as well as almost one petabyte (PB) of electronic CCTV storage.”

Team building

After carrying out a full assessment of UCL’s requirements, Reliance High-Tech deployed seven full time personnel. This team comprises two senior service engineers, who are primarily responsible for overseeing commissioning, as well as four service engineers, who focus on service activity and planned preventative maintenance (PPM). These personnel are complemented by a dedicated designer, who helps to turn projects around quickly and efficiently and understands the requirements of UCL when working with other on-site mechanical and electrical contracting teams.

“Strategic PPM is an effective way for UCL to maintain consistency across the estate, ensure regulatory compliance and keep all technology, including its Gallagher access control system and Pelco VMS, working optimally,” comments Don Dixon. “Uptime is crucial, as in the event of an incident, UCL needs to locate any evidence quickly. System design and accuracy is therefore a key part of our brief, and everything needs to be installed and commissioned to the same high standards.”

Team building

Mike Dawe concludes, “Our primary objective is to keep the campus open but secure and this presents a number of unique challenges. A dedicated on-site team of service engineers, familiar with the diverse buildings across a large area, and how they operate, is essential to support this.”

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