Challenge: The vast scale of the project presented a number of challenges for our trained engineers and determining a suitable WIFI coverage solution was recognised as being of paramount importance. Five key outcomes:
- Ensure the WIFI would reach throughout the site.
- Allow people to connect to the WIFI, either guests or residents.
- Enable staff to move throughout the home without losing WIFI connectivity.
- Provide segregated networks for the staff and residents.
- Bring the project in on the allocated time of 12 months and within budget.
Survey stage was a vital stage of the installation process as it was necessary during this stage to stimulate the installed Wi-Fi signal ensuring it would work efficiently providing connectivity in all areas of the building after installation. As part of their feasibility study ADS tested their baseline process on a 120-bed care home. It was also necessary to research potential solutions before deciding upon the final solution. Over a two-month period ADS developed a prototype survey wi-fi unit. At each stage, the prototypes were then tested, and any issues found were noted and used to develop subsequent units until we had a unit, we were happy with. The final three we produced were portable wi-fi survey units, with built in battery power that was capable of achieving the required level of performance on site. The units could disassemble to fit into a car boot in less than a minute, helping to improve efficiency during the survey process. The units were built on caster wheels enabling it to be pushed around and manageable for one person. This enabled ADS to be spread across more than one site at a time. In addition to the prototype survey unit, we developed a new survey program that enabled us to record wi-fi signal values in tabular format, which was user friendly and saved more time. Running parallel to the we began the development of a prototype technical process that allowed us to execute the installations at a faster rate – Dray Tek Access was selected to work with the prototype. It was time to test the prototype at a care home site. The process was as follows:
- Carry out wi-fi survey.
- Office team create installation plans and drawings.
- Installation of cabling and infrastructure
- Installation of IT equipment (access points, switches, patch leads)
- Site Testing
The initial site test was unsuccessful and there were several issues around ADS’s hardware working with the DrayTek software and the following technical uncertainties had to be overcome:
- VLAN Configuration – although VLAN setting worked on switches the method of implementation was incompatible with access points.
- Draytek Router – the new access points were shipped with versions of software and some did not work due to a technical problem with the routers. We found a technical solution for this which meant that access points needed manually updating again to the latest software to be compatible with the router software.
- Incompatible access pint databases between Draytek routers, access points and ADS. This required several months of testing and developing fixes before established versions of software and databases were found.
- Communication – access points and software required a special type of network traffic to monitor and send updates to access points. This would mean that some ISPs would modify the traffic and communication would be either non-existent or intermittent. In collaboration with an independent IT expert ADS tested access points internally before sending them to site.