Reliance High-Tech takes security systems university challenge at UCL

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

Now rightly renowned as one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary universities, UCL was founded back in 1826 to open up higher education to those who had previously been excluded from it. In 1878, UCL became 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, UCL 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.

UCL comprises a complex multi-site estate of over 230 historic and modern buildings located across greater London and beyond. The day-to-day supervision of the university’s 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’ve always taken our security infrastructure seriously,” explained 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 and the operation of a video management systems (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. That being so, two years ago (after carrying out a review of its provision in this area), Dawe initiated an in-depth tender process and invited Reliance High-Tech to take part.

Perfect fit for UCL

“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,” stated 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.”

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 M&E contracting teams.

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

Mike Dawe concluded: “Our primary objective is to keep the campus open, but at the same time secure. 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.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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