The importance of good on-campus security has been highlighted once again by the recent tragic events at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, USA.
And while this is obviously an extreme example of what can occur, fast reaction to potential emergencies is always the key to saving lives by getting medical, maintenance or security personnel to where they are needed without delay. This requires dependable and uninterrupted communication between all emergency staff, for which an up-to-date digital radio paging system is ideally suited. Even today, no other technology is as reliable and fast as paging for linking people (and equipment) together.
The DP6000 Digital Paging System not only provides a fast and ultra-reliable communications network, it is also a system that can be easily tailored to meet special requirements like those of the Leiden University campus. “The campus is scattered all over the town and many separate paging systems were being used. Each paging system had its own specifications and only a small number of the buildings were covered, and no centralized calls were possible. But we knew from previous experience with the DP6000 that we could deliver a complete paging system providing total coverage over the whole area,” says Jan Verasdonck, Innocom’s CEO.
The variety of buildings on campus is enormous as it is the oldest university in the Netherlands with a history going back to the 16th century. It consists of nine faculties: Archaeology, Arts, Creative and Performing Arts, Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Science, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Theology. It also houses Schools of Management and Education. Today, there are approximately 17,000 students and 4,000 staff members.
Basically, Innocom delivered enough transmitters to cover all the buildings of the university and the techniques to avoid collisions between paging calls. A specially designed switchbox was placed in each of the university buildings from where alarm calls are fed into the central system. These alarms automatically trigger all kinds of paging calls to, for instance, first-aid teams or fire teams to ensure fast and well-organized assistance for every situation in every building. With this system people anywhere on campus can be reached, as wells as in remote places where other kinds of communication, such as cell phones, do not function.
“We were not able to use copper wiring between the buildings since the university considered this would be difficult to maintain in the future,” says Jan Verasdonck. “Instead, the university wanted us to use its sophisticated new fiber-optic IT network for the paging equipment. This presented us with some challenges since an IT network is not designed to synchronize VHF or UHF signals. Fortunately, Atus helped us here with specially designed software to cope with this demand. We also developed IP paging inputs ourselves using existing I/O switches. And, using our own software, we created a fool-proof signaling system from all of the different buildings to the central system. We can connect all kinds of urgent information immediately to the appropriate team of well-trained professionals within the university.”
Innocom started installing the DP6000 system in 2005 with the Kamerlingh Onnes Building. Currently housing the university’s Law faculty, this listed building is named in honor of the celebrated low-temperature physicist, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes,who conducted his experiments on liquid helium there and for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1913. In 2006, Innocom completed all the buildings in the old center of Leiden, and in 2007 the installation will be extended to the university’s Leeuwenhoek site. But it won’t end there. After 432 years the university is still very ambitious. Further improvements are constantly being sought and there are plans for new buildings. Jan Verasdonck: “And we are ready for that. We can match up to their plans, and we can easily integrate any expansions in the paging system we have already designed for them.”
Although the installation is not yet complete, the faculty administrators and security services are very satisfied with the result so far. They have responsibility for the safety of 21,000 people and with this system they are able to ensure rapid response to all kinds of emergency situations. And, since the system is privately owned, they don’t have to rely on third-party providers for the continuity of their emergency communications network.