Stonyhurst College, a prestigious Catholic Boarding and Day school in the Jesuit tradition is set amongst the rolling North Lancashire hills. The school recently undertook a security survey across the campus a number of areas were highlighted for improvement. Event Safety Group were contacted to evaluate the campus’ existing radio communications networks. The existing network a 2 channel VHF High Band Analogue system with around 120 radios, had served the college well for a number of years. However a significant increase in users to the system over the last few years had brought along a number of capacity issues, this partly due to one channel being a designated emergency calling channel for the onsite medics featuring PSTN interconnect through a Zetron 35a micro connect. This meant that all existing talk groups except for the medics were restricted to one single 12.5KHz channel and wasn’t effective utilisation of the available spectrum.
Following a thorough evaluation Event Safety Group made a number of recommendations to upgrade the existing network, whilst also including value added functionality and streamlining communications across the large campus. Following careful consideration of the proposals, Stonyhurst decided to go for a phased migration to a Digital DMR system. This would initially involve the replacement of one analogue repeater with a new Radio Activity, Kairos repeater configured in a hybrid mode for both DMR tier II and Analogue, this will allow the migration of all talk groups except the medics to move over gradually onto digital talk groups as and when budgets allow. Initially the in house security team were upgraded to all digital, the radios selected being Tait TP9335 VHF handportables and TM9300 fixed base units. The Tait portfolio of radios all offer durability (Tait Tough!), ease of use and backwards compatible to analogue as standard. The TP9335 and TM9300 are high end systems radios, capable of operating in a number of modes: DMR tier II, III, MPT1327 and Analogue. They also feature a large backlit LCD screen that clearly displays all relevant information.
The upgrade to digital has allowed for a number of key improvements to communication, notably the use of text messaging and status updates, along with individual and group calling as standard. At the suggestion off Paul Wilmore, Event Safety Groups senior radio systems engineer the college has also started a phased roll out of alarm integration to the system. This utilising the SMC Gateway has allowed for status messages to be paged to all radios in the security talk group, as and when alarm conditions change. Initially the intruder alarm to the historic libraries has been fitted, previously this was on an externally monitored phone line connection, this made no sense given the 24hr onsite security presence, the security team would only be alerted should the alarm be activated, now they are alerted as and when the alarm is armed, activated or disabled. The historic libraries house some of the most precious items in the school’s collections, most notable being a Shakespeare first folio. In time it is envisaged that the majority of the campus’ intruder and fire panels will be so connected, allowing for all communications through a single radio, significantly improving response time to incidents.
Going forward the college has capacity to further upgrade the system by replacing the remaining existing analogue repeater with a second Kairos digital repeater, this would then allow for upgrading to a DMR tier III trunked system should they wish. This system provides the college with a highly scalable solution and maximises spectrum efficiency, that can be customised into the future dependent upon their changing needs.
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