Direct, clear communication with perfect coverage for Maastricht University
Maastricht University (UM) is the Netherlands’ most international university with over 20,000 students and 4,400 staff members. UM is located across various campuses and buildings in the city of Maastricht, separated by a river, which creates challenges to ensure coverage and accessibility of mission-critical communications. We gladly accepted this challenge.
An optimally functioning emergency response team is essential
Stefan Coumans, 32, is a Functional Information Manager for the Service Centre and is responsible for the operation of various systems since June 2012. Facility Services includes the management of the University’s systems for two-way radio, emergency response team calls and CCTV. Stefan also supervises the implementation of new functionalities and explains why Maastricht University was looking for a solution for its outdated systems. Stefan explains: “The increasing number of students, employees and buildings put the old system to the test. Outdated hardware and limited coverage and reception caused frustration and unnecessary waste of time during emergencies. We had to find a new solution so that the Emergency Response Team could function optimally.”
Limited coverage problems
The biggest challenge in terms of mission critical communication is the scattering of campuses and buildings throughout the city of Maastricht, separated by a river.
Stefan explains: “The university premises are scattered across the city; it’s a mix of two campuses and separate buildings, from new office blocks to landmark buildings. The coverage in basements and other corners of these buildings often leaves much to be desired. With the new TETRA system, this has largely been resolved and we have coverage everywhere, even in hard-to-reach places.”
Multiple call groups
TETRA is a robust and user-friendly solution for communicating over specific groups that are in contact with the UM control room. Stefan explains: “We use a total of six groups, two of which are important to the Emergency Response Team. This causes no confusion and is clear to all emergency responders.”
Maastricht University’s requirements
Flash was already the maintenance partner for the old system. Stefan explains: “Together we looked for a suitable solution that would meet the requirements and Flash recommended a solution based on the TETRA standard, which is a robust and user-friendly solution for communicating over specific groups that are in contact with the UM control room.
The old system did not offer sufficient coverage. Stefan explains: “Every building is unique and has its own characteristics, such as laboratories with hazardous substances, many corners in landmark buildings, and cellars and/or staircases. That’s why each faculty has its own Emergency Response Team. Central coordination takes place from one shared control room where all alarms such as fire alarms, personal safety and oxygen alarms are followed up according to a pre-established protocol.
Because of the poor coverage, a direct connection was often made between the two-way radios in a building. As a result, the control room missed out on conversations and did not always receive all the messages. This is inefficient, risky and very undesirable.
Because the control room did not receive all the calls immediately, time was wasted during emergencies. A new solution was needed. Stefan explains: “Our specific requirement was to have coverage in all buildings, everywhere. For a number of days, Flash conducted coverage measurements with several people throughout Maastricht in order to determine suitable antenna installation points. Our Emergency Response Team has extensively tested the two-way radio system. Everyone was surprised at how clear the speech was compared to the old installation. That alone was already progress. Besides that, the coverage of the system was far more extensive. Thanks to Flash’s expertise in this area, the number of transmission points has remained the same as before, but coverage has significantly improved. The rental model also takes away the hassle of breakdown maintenance, preventive maintenance and administration for UM.”
Maastricht University sets itself apart through its innovative educational model, international character and multidisciplinary approach. The institute is therefore looking forward to further innovations in the field of mission-critical communication in the future. Stefan explains: “We are currently examining how we can apply this system on a wider scale and link it to other systems, but there are no additional projects at the moment. We are quite content.”
Even more reasons why Maastricht University chose Flash:
- Integration with other systems;
- Optimal coverage;
- Clear speech;
- Good implementation and training;
- Communication with multiple call groups spread across the city;
- Coverage in the most difficult premises and cellars;
- Good solutions for the Emergency Response Team.
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