MOBOTIX AG, a leading manufacturer of digital high-resolution, network-based video security systems has released details of a project at Leeds City College to secure access to critical data centres and communication rooms across multiple sites.
On 1st April 2009, Leeds City College was formed following the merger of three of the city’s renowned colleges; Leeds College of Technology, Leeds Thomas Danby and Park Lane College Leeds & Keighley. Then in 2011, Joseph Priestley College also merged into the expanded new college, serving a community of over 40,000 students and employing in the region of 1,500 staff, making it one of the area’s largest employers. In 2012, the College was given an OFSTED rating at “Grade 2, Good, with Outstanding features”, for the overall effectiveness of its provision.
Behind the scenes of the merger, four ICT infrastructures combined for the delivery of services while benefiting from the natural economies of scale created by the new larger entity. Following a tendering process, Leeds City College selected Express Data Ltd to lead a project to help design and build an integrated data network. Express Data is a trusted and long serving technical adviser and installation specialist that had previously worked with Leeds Thomas Danby College.
The new network would be built around a highly resilient fibre core to ensure that the loss of any one critical data centre or network link would allow for an active failover and continuation of ICT services. Another consideration was around the physical security of critical data and networking elements spread across Leeds at 15 college sites. “We run approximately 300 application servers and 770 network switches in support of over 40,000 students, 1,500 staff and have committed to a 98 % uptime,” says Dave Newsham, Service Delivery Manager for Leeds City College, “We are very proud to have consistently achieved this benchmark and making sure that critical network elements are properly maintained and secured with fully audited access is an essential requirement.”
Although the legacy colleges had previous installations of CCTV, these were predominantly focused on monitoring building access, common areas and car parking. Unfortunately, the notion of CCTV monitoring for ICT assets was supported in only an ad-hoc fashion by a few of them. Following due diligence and after seeking advice from Express Data, a solution based on MOBOTIX CCTV benefiting from distributed technology and built-in local storage was created to fulfil the technical implementation criteria while reducing the need for an expensive CCTV central control room or network upgrade.
“The majority of the locations are darkrooms or places with almost no footfall,” explains Newsham,” this means that most of the cameras show black screens or static images, and as such, there is no requirement to transmit high resolution video over the network all the time. However, if somebody enters these areas we need to be able to see exactly who it is and what they are doing. To meet this requirement, we have set up alerts to only send video back to our MxControlCenter software when there is a scene change such as a door opening or person entering a data centre or comms room.”
Newsham and his team also benefited from the built in temperature sensors in each MOBOTIX camera, “Although we have environmental monitoring at the larger sites, MOBOTIX now provides us with a solution for smaller comms rooms and as a backup to the other sensors,” he adds.
To date, Express Data has installed 20 MOBOTIX cameras across college sites including a number of Q24 and Q25 hemispheric models that cover entire rooms in high definition quality. “The use of hemispheric cameras providing a 360 degree viewpoint means that can monitor larger areas that would normally require several cameras with just a single MOBOTIX unit. This approach makes the deployment easier while reducing cost and complexity,” says Newsham.
“Our plan is to use MOBOTIX across the entire critical ICT infrastructure and the reliability and performance of the implementation has been faultless since the first unit went in during the summer of 2009,” adds Newsham, “We are now looking at some of the ‘bells and whistles’ such as out of hours alerting and integrating monitoring into our new NOC (Network Operations Centre) and the MOBOTIX technology is certainly up to the task.”