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Bringing a 15th century building’s data network up to 21st century standards

last modified Feb 19, 2021 11:53 AM
The Network Infrastructure team at UIS has just completed work on transforming the data network at The Old Schools. The network had been unreliable, difficult to support and in desperate need of updating for many years.

The team was chosen to carry out the work after having successfully completed several other large-scale networking projects around the Collegiate University. They brought with them extensive technological knowledge, as well as their experience of the complexities inherent in working on the University’s historically sensitive estate.  

Initially, the team conducted a review of the network and the fabric of The Old Schools buildings. They concluded that the best way to proceed was to replace all the legacy networking rather than just a few of its older elements. This approach would provide the staff working at Old Schools with a fast and reliable network for the first time in its history. It would also enable the latest technology, including Wi-Fi, across the whole site.  

The project was no small undertaking due to the nature and historical importance of the buildings. They are all Grade 1 listed which brings with it many constraints. Floor tracks needed to be dug, radiators changed and holes core-drilled through walls in order to open cabling routes through the building. All of the work was planned and carried out in a discreet and aesthetically sympathetic manner.  

Work started in October 2020 and was completed on-time in January 2021. It was a very aggressive timescale for such a large and difficult project involving both internal and external parties. When staff finally return to work in the buildings after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it is hoped that the only thing they will notice is the increased data speeds and greater connectivity across the site – not evidence of the physical installation work that enabled it 

Old Schools rewire 250x250

Project Lead, Gary Arber, commented: “A project of this nature can be incredibly difficult to get to the start line. This proved exactly the case here. Once all the extensive pre-start hurdles had been jumped I could put together a team of like-minded people to make this project a success. UIS has good people and we really can deliver results when we work as a team and pull in the same direction. Adding some tried-and-tested external third parties, and the fantastic Old Schools Facilities Team (Joanne Black and Andre Farrington-Bone), proved a recipe for success.” 

If you have any queries about this project or would like support for one of your own, please contact the UIS Networks team (networks@uis.cam.ac.uk) or Gary Arber (gca24@cam.ac.uk). 

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