When Deborah Munt joined Central College Nottingham two years ago, the radio estate was ready for an upgrade. After completing an audit, Deborah discovered that she had a mixture of 24 rented analogue radios, and 20 radios that had been purchased. Some of the issues were – poor signals, interference between channels, frequent cut-outs and some coverage black spots, and equally, the college was using VHF frequencies instead of UHF. As a first step, Deborah bought some Hytera TC610 radios, which staff across the college loved. They were rugged, stood up to the rough and tumble of day-to-day life across the campus, and what's best of all – they worked.
Central College Nottingham, UK
PD60X Portable Radio
PD66X Portable Radio
However, analogue was never going to be the long-term solution for the college. The challenge Deborah and her team were facing was huge. The college had multiple sites across the city, many of them high towers with basements, so staff were not just moving across the city, they were moving up and down as well.
There were different day-to-day challenges for staff, too. Across campus canteens, receptions, libraries, cleaning staff, night classes, maintenance teams, there were many different radio requirements.
It was clear that the college needed to switch to digital (DMR) radio. They contacted Radio Links Communications Ltd of St Neots in Cambridgeshire, an Authorised Hytera dealer, and invested in 51 digital hand portable radios, comprising a mixture of PD60X and PD66X units with LCD displays. Staff working in receptions, librarians, cleaners and canteen staff took the PD60Xs, while security, premises officers and facilities managers took the PD66Xs with screens.
The signal was tested across all buildings, but the litmus test was the campus on Maid Marian Way – a campus which had never had consistently good radio coverage across the site. As Deborah says, “If you can get a signal there, you can get a signal anywhere.” Hytera's DMR system achieved the perfect solution to their radio coverage issues, first time.
The Hytera roll-out has been extremely smooth, with communication across the sites for Facilities Managers and three call groups for all staff. The improved coverage and call quality has meant that Deborah no longer has to answer any queries or respond to any radio-related problems.
The safety features within the radios help the College meet their Health & Safety requirements. Staff who are working at night – for instance, cleaners, security or librarians – are often on their own. With the Man Down functionality and Lone Worker features, radio users can alert the Security Department in the case of a problem or emergency.
An extended feature of the Hytera system is the ability to integrate with other technology across the campus. The radios can integrate with Access Control and CCTV systems, and they can also be integrated directly with campus speakers in order to communicate messages directly across a tannoy system.
The business case for DMR has been proved, and is providing the backbone to a full, future-proof communications system for the 21st Century.