Kew Gardens is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, and as the UK’s 15th most visited attraction, welcomes 1.3m people through its turnstiles annually.
While the priceless collection of 7m plant specimens is of historical importance, so is the site itself. Opened in 1759, it was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2004.
As part of its Science Strategy 2020, one of Kew’s main aims over the next six years is to make its resources accessible across different channels, reaching a broader and diverse audience. Challenged with how Kew Gardens could better leverage IT infrastructure to improve the visitor experience, and help visitors understand the science of Kew and how they make a difference, they turned to LAN3.
Kew’s previous Wi-Fi system, run by Aruba Networks, was rolled out sporadically across the gardens, and the access points didn’t sync up to one console to provide an overview of all Wi-Fi activity.
For Jon Little, Digital Product Manager at Kew Gardens, the challenge was simple: visitors were increasingly expecting to be able to connect their mobile devices to a fast and reliable Wi-Fi.
Jon little said: “To make people feel at home we need to provide decent Wi-Fi, but more importantly it has to be easy to connect to, and available when our visitors are onsite.
“I believe decent Wi-Fi is going to matter as much in the future as clean toilets and the quality of the food served on feedback sites for visitor attractions.”
The deployment began by replacing the old Aruba units with Aerohive. These units were placed across the park and in cafes, restaurants and the gates. Straight off the bat, Kew was able to use the Aerohive units to gain insight into usage rates.
Since the initial deployment, LAN3 has installed over 130 Aerohive access points within the park, allowing for a range of devices - from staff barcode scanners, to guest iPhones and iPads. The increased coverage has also allowed Kew to roll out iBeacons, sharing additional information on visitor locations with administrators who instruct managers to shift support staff accordingly.
Kew has also built an app which runs over the park’s Wi-Fi system. The app allows staff to share real-time updates on when flowering is occurring in sections of the park, helping bring visitor experiences to life.
“Going wireless is the crux of our Science Strategy 2020. As technology has expanded, the requirements for our business to go wireless and provide wireless services to both staff and visitors has increased significantly."
"I’m particularly impressed with the visitor insights the solution has given the team. We now know a lot more about our customers and can better cater for their needs, helping us deliver an exceptional customer experience."
Head of IT & Information Security, Kew Gardens
Deploying reliable enterprise Wi-Fi has provided greater insight into customer needs and interactions, and has allowed Kew Royal Botanical Gardens to provide a greater amount of services and support.
By choosing Aerohive, Kew now has a solution that is not only reliable, but also manageable and easy to use. This has led to a reduction in complaints from staff and visitors, who previously had to flag when the Wi-Fi was down.
“The Aerohive units are a lot more reliable and trustworthy, and not to mention the visibility – it’s phenomenal. I’m particularly impressed with the visitor insights the Aerohive solution has given the team. We now know a lot more about our customers and can better cater for their needs, helping us deliver an exceptional customer experience”, says Matthew Mills, Head of IT & Information Security, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.
Having a reliable Wi-Fi solution allows visitors to share their Kew Gardens experience - spreading the word on social media by uploading images of the gardens instantaneously. Wi-Fi has also helped bring visitors closer to the plants and fungi which the garden houses, as well as the scientists who sit behind the information being presented.