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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.
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
“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."
"To measure success, you have to look back at how the project was delivered. Although we faced some unexpected challenges along the way, by working together we achieved a fully functioning network for the start of term. All the switches were replaced, and cabling completed in the very narrow window of opportunity, during the summer break.” Reece added.
Redundant links were also added to all network cabinets around the school, meaning in the event of a single failure the network traffic would automatically re-route through the backup link, thus avoiding the downtime inherent in the previous network design.
Managing the network has become considerably easier, Reece said. "Previously every network switch was managed independently. If we needed to make a configuration change to one of the switches we had to manually replicate that change across the network estate. With Dell EMC's management platform, that challenge has been alleviated."
"I want ICT to provide outstanding customer service at all times. ICT is at its best when it's integral, but silent. I want it to be an enhancer, help the school operate more efficiently, as well as be integral to teaching and learning."
With the new network in place, Reece's thoughts have now turned to the future. "We're looking to introduce an official BYOD policy next September, meaning pupils' personal devices can be utilised in the classroom. The new network is integral to facilitate this development.
The integration between Dell EMC and Aerohive was a key factor in our decision making. It will ease management and bring everything together in one place."
With the ability to manage the entire Bedales wired and wireless network via one platform, the project to enable BYOD is one step closer. "We'll be able to identify the traffic routing across the two networks, and as a result better support the BYOD policy. Accessing the wired and wireless networks from one user interface will save time and will enhance performance through the benefit of new statistics and analysis at our disposal."