When Andisa started working with Ripon Cathedral to provide IT services we were genuinely surprised. We expected an organisation operating from a 1300 year old stone building with a primary objective of “community care and well-being” wouldn’t have much need for IT. However the opposite is true.
- Orders of service must be printed on time.
- Documentation and information must be professionally presented .
- Security is paramount because the staff deal with very intimate personal details.
- The staff all need access to data even though they often work on their feet, meeting members of the congregation in the Cathedral, offices, homes or meeting rooms.
- Often people are volunteers and so reliable repeatable systems are paramount.
- Services rely on network based audio and visual systems.
- The main buildings are protected by CCTV that also relies on the network.
It’s fascinating that an organisation with so much personal contact embraces the modern world of IT.
Andisa worked through the “Insight process” to understand what equipment is on site, how the network is configured and who does what / what their needs are.
As is often typical, the network had grown organically because of the project led approach driven by grant and charity funding. There was some remedial work to do to create an Envirovent that is easily managed.
During the Insight process Andisa also ran a technical audit, confirming that items such as backups were operating properly, that antivirus and other software was up to date.
We also added a personalised TeamViewer icon to each desktop.
We also checked the permissions set on the file store to make sure that “the right people had the right access”.
Now when a user calls for help the first instinct is to share the desktop so that our technicians can see exactly what the user is describing. Most support is performed quickly and remotely. The end result is less interruption and more productivity.
The network was configured differently in each building and in some areas the access to the system had become unreliable.
This lead to frustration and “IT complacency” with volunteers accepting that they needed to walk to a different area if they needed to access documents.
In response, Andisa has installed Mikrotik routers and cleaned up the VLAN design that is responsible for segregating the various areas of the network. Now the network is reliable, meaning that people can access the information they need, when they need. The chance of interruption during critical times is far less and if an issue occurs then it can be fixed remotely.
There is further information about Mikrotik networks visible at https://www.andisa.net/services/mikrotik-consultancy/
The biggest area for improvement was Wi-Fi Access. The Cathedral is spread across approximately 8 buildings and the Wi-Fi was made up from separate locally managed networks. To change a password you had to log onto each access point.
This also meant that public access had several passwords depending on what area you visited. It was difficult for visitors to access information as they walked around the Cathedral.
The verger team also struggled to use their tablets to control the equipment and so people had to climb towers to access equipment directly.
If something went wrong during a service the team could not fix the problem there and then!
Andisa have installed a Ubiquiti Unifi system with Wi-Fi now linking all buildings that people work from. The network is secure and supplies different Wireless networks for different purposes – public, audio, staff etc however access is managed centrally from one central portal. People can now roam from building to building easily, maintaining their single Wi-Fi configuration. This in turn makes it easier to change passwords and control access as needed.
The portal also allows managers to see who is accessing each area and locate devices.
There is more information about Ubiquiti Wireless networks at https://www.andisa.net/tool/wireless-networks/
Now the infrastructure is reliable and supportable we have been focusing on projects to further enhance usability and to give cost savings.
- Extending the network
The Cathedral is central to most of the buildings that are used for accommodation and offices. There was already a wireless link between three of the buildings however it wasn’t in the best configuration.
The two towers provide a brilliant central point for inter building links – good visibility, little external clutter and rock steady!
Andisa has reconfigured the existing link to improve reliability and then extended it to link all of the buildings into one network.
Three buildings that previously had their own dedicated broadband now use the cost free wireless link. 100% return on investment will be inside 12 months! See our page explaining inter building links
- VoIP Telephones
The extended interbuilding link can now support VoIP telephones and we are trialling its use.
The selected phones connect via Wi-Fi and so can be moved from office to office easily. The number just follows the phone.
Line rental is a fraction of original costs and the Mikrotik routers provide QoS or quality of service, reserving bandwidth to guarantee quality calls.
Again payback will be in months not years!
IT is easier to support and is well documented meaning that the network is now simple to adapt to support the real needs of the Cathedral.