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12.10.2016, 15:21

Software to Transform FM Delivery at UK's National Oceanography Centre

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South African company Solution House has taken control of site management at the United Kingdom's largest marine science and research institute after including software to handle facilities-related processes in its bid.

South African company Solution House has taken control of site management at the United Kingdom's largest marine science and research institute after including software to handle facilities-related processes in its bid.

It means the UK’s largest marine science and research institute is now having its facilities management processes transformed through the introduction of unique software, known as Incident Desk.

Having to rely on time consuming manual incident reports will be a thing of the past for the NOC - with these replaced by automated mobile incident management for security and maintenance staff.

The South African developed software is a universal incident and service request sourcing, routing and management engine that provides site and facility managers with advanced functionality. These include recording, tracking, visualising, alerting, escalating and reporting on any number of site-related incidents, from infrastructure repair, scheduled service checks, intrusion alerts and criminal incidents among others.

The decision to opt for Solution House’s Incident Desk software was made in light of the NOC needing greater mobility, simplicity and efficiency - particularly for an organisation that encounters a variety of specific challenges; such as sea level change, the oceans’ role in climate change, predicting and simulating the behavior of the oceans, development, the future of the Arctic Ocean and long-term monitoring technologies.

Ensuring safety for over 2,500 scientists, engineers, technologists, support staff and students across its two sites - while also having to comply with relevant legislation - were also key factors for the NOC.

“We are delighted that Solution House has taken control of our site management and is now making the vital changes needed after being our preferred bidder,” NOC Security Supervisor Paul Dent said. “We believe that through the use of the Incident Desk software our facilities management systems will be transformed making us far more mobile, efficient and saving us time. 

“In past years this complex function was primarily managed through a system of physical Daily Occurrence Books (DOB), which made it time consuming, labour intensive and difficult to manage in real-time,” Mr Dent explained.

“Regardless of how many rules you put in place, using a manual DOB system means you can’t really get an accurate sense of what’s happening in and around the NOC at any given point, which is not ideal for a busy site with highly sensitive equipment and research facilities.”

The NOC typically has multiple “incidents” it captures and tracks, including building management alarms and checks, fire alarm activations, water leaks, electricity supply failure, lost and found property and criminal offences.

“What we needed was a digital alternative that would not only replicate our manual DOB processes and help us manage multiple incidents more effectively, but also give us more ways to quickly and accurately report and track them as they happen. Typically we record about 3,000 security related incidents / occurrences every month,” Mr Dent continued.

With a large team of security officers and maintenance staff, it was critical the system could send relevant alerts to duty staff, as well as allow them to enter alerts into the system from anywhere on the NOC site.

“The software had to be easy to use, fully reportable and user configurable,” added Mr Dent. “Incident Desk was the only one that met all three selection criteria, was reasonably priced, and was backed by exceptional customer service and after-sales support from Solution House.

“Importantly, it also featured a mobile component – via a native smartphone app – that immediately elevated the functionality to a level none of the other packages could match.”     

Solution House Director Tiaan Janse van Rensburg says flexibility was key to winning the bid.
Solution House Director Tiaan Janse van Rensburg says flexibility was key to winning the bid. © Solution House
Solution House Director Tiaan Janse van Rensburg revealed that being able to offer the NOC a flexible solution was key in winning the bidding. 

“Site managers typically have to work with multiple software systems from different solution vendors, which for a campus site could include CCTV, building management systems, license plate recognition, access control and so on,” he said.

“At a basic level, these systems generate alarms or exceptions that can be automatically logged and managed by Incident Desk, giving site managers a centralised console for incident management.

“But Incident Desk can also go a step further by replacing the many purpose-built management systems or processes such as maintenance, health and safety or security, thereby consolidating these otherwise disparate processes and management systems rather than simply managing their incident alerts.”

The NOC is also currently in discussions with Solution House about potential future add-ons to the system, including a real-time security guard tracking and reporting system.

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