About Brent

The London Borough of Brent (LBB) is located in North West London, forming part of Outer London. Its population is estimated at 312,200 people.

Trial stages

David Boyd of Unified Consultancy provided the borough with the Purple WiFi solution to match their needs and Xirrus high-density access points.

The project began with a 30 day trial conducted at the Brent Civic Centre, which is located in a prominent area of the borough. The new Civic Centre streamlines all aspects of the Council’s activities and has become a new hub for the community where residents can meet, shop and eat.

The trial was also conducted at the Brent Civic Centre Library, primarily because many of the proposed sites were libraries. The government’s digital inclusion initiative is to equip the whole country with skills, motivation and trust to go online. Libraries will be an important part of reaching this goal.

Rollout

After a successful trial, the solution was then rolled out in four more of the borough’s libraries; Kingsbury, Ealing Road, South Kilburn and Harlesden. The new guest WiFi solution has also been successfully implemented at William Dunbar House, Willow Children’s Centre and Harlesden Jobcentre Plus. Looking forward, there are at least two additional sites planned this year.

Installation challenges

London Borough of Brent already had an existing guest solution and wanted to run the two systems concurrently to compare performance and to ensure Purple WiFi met all of their needs.  The primary challenge was ensuring Purple WiFi was effectively marketed to the public to ensure a sufficient level of data was collated to allow comparison of both systems.  Unified Consultancy distributed instruction leaflets to visitors in the Civic Centre to raise awareness of the new system and also ran a staff education initiative to ensure they were aware of the new system and the value it adds.

Another challenge involved ensuring the IT lending library devices were all pre-registered, ready for immediate use without registration. This challenge was resolved by the Purple WiFi helpdesk, who manually pre-registered the devices in bulk, using their MAC address.

A winning solution

Although there was an existing, free, form-based guest WiFi solution, it offered limited reporting, no social media interaction and no content filtering.

A solution to match the wide ranging needs of the different venues was presented through regular consultation with the IT department, communications team and the library managers, all of whom had differing requirements for the system.

  • The IT team wanted a solution which was secure, easy to use and manage, reliable and that met the relevant data retention and protection regulation
  • The communications and library teams were primarily interested in the end user experience, more detailed visitor reporting, whether the data could be exported to their existing mailing software and how the system could increase their social media exposure. Unified Consultancy and Purple WiFi were able to meet all of these requirements and more.
  • Content filtering was also required to ensure visitors cannot access inappropriate websites. With state of the art content filtering, Purple WiFi gives Brent the ability to choose which categories of sites to allow and which to block.

Purple WiFi was integrated seamlessly with Xirrus’ high density, modular access points. A combination of Xirrus models were deployed, primarily the XR4430 however, XR1230, XR2230, XR4830, and the 802.11AC capable XR630 were also deployed where required.

In the two months following the rollout, ‘Likes’ on the Brent Council Facebook page have increased by 51% and Likes on the Brent Libraries Facebook page have increased by over 95%, greatly extending Brent’s social exposure.

Why Purple WiFi?

Purple WiFi was chosen because of the ease with which it could match the varying needs of each of the venues.

David Boyd, Director of Unified Consultancy, said: “Purple WiFi is a fantastic Guest WiFi solution which simplifies the registration process for the visitor whilst providing the venue owner with increased marketing opportunities, social media exposure and visitor statistics

Tim Butler, Networks and Communications Team Leader at Brent Council, added: “Although we did have a guest WiFi solution in place we decided to migrate to Purple WiFi’s cloud solution after taking advice from Unified Consultancy. It offered more methods of logging in using social media accounts, making it much easier for visitors, with the option of form access.  It also meant we could target certain demographics with relevant e-shots to advertise specific events held in our libraries.  Being able to report in detail on the users accessing our WiFi network is one of the main benefits of Purple WiFi. This will enable us to target certain user profiles with relevant e-shots for upcoming events.  Having a cloud solution has also greatly simplified the support requirements.”

Gavin Wheeldon, CEO at Purple WiFi, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Unified Consultancy and Xirrus to provide a secure, robust and scalable guest WiFi solution for the London Borough of Brent. This is a great example of Purple WiFi working across multiple community venues, bringing real value to both the council and Brent’s residents.”