Customer Success Story
Public Wi-Fi helps Hertfordshire bring community together post-COVID
Hertfordshire, known for its historic estates and beautiful countryside, lies within easy commuting distance of Greater London. As the local authority, Hertfordshire County Council delivers services to 1.2 million residents, including adult and child social services, public health, road and transportation safety, community protection, and libraries.
Hertfordshire County Council is upgrading the Wi-Fi network at more than 300 government offices and community hubs not only to provide residents with a secure, safe, and welcoming environment, but also to engage the community post-COVID.
Business to support including some of the country’s leading businesses, including internationally renowned creative media, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences industries.
Government-run offices and community hubs being refreshed with MIST AP45s.
Implemented with the MIST system to assist streamlining network operations and troubleshooting tasks.
Network-related trouble tickets since deploying Juniper wireless.
Engage the community post-COVID
The Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) was exploring ways to create a secure, safe, and comfortable environment for its residents after the isolation of COVID. As in many communities, the pandemic had taken its toll on mental health, and the Council wanted to create community hubs where people could visit and engage.
“We are trying to improve people’s mental health in the community by trying to give back the sense of togetherness in our people-centric community centre.” says Mark McCullough, Network Manager at HCC. “During lockdown, people felt isolated and vulnerable as they sensed they were losing their bonds with those around them.”
Public Internet access has long been available in Hertfordshire libraries, social centers, and other community hubs, but slow wireless LAN was not fit for the expanded community engagement objectives.
With a small IT team responsible for a large network (over 12,000 connections – 8,500 users) that serves citizens, government offices, and libraries, HCC needed a modern and easily managed wireless network.
Marvis is an AIOps helpmate
After a year of testing, HCC chose Juniper wireless networking for its next-generation Wi-Fi network. Juniper wireless access points work in conjunction with the Juniper Mist cloud architecture driven by Mist AI™ to deliver network user experiences that are reliable, predictable, and measurable.
“Juniper was seen as the leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure at the time when we were looking. Also, Juniper did not press us for engagement on our PoC and they left us to it. As a result, we felt no ‘salesy’ pressure and our perception was they had total confidence in the technical capabilities in their product. We also went with the 2S support model, which gave us Marvis AI assistant on top. We got this at a decent price which undercut the offering from other suppliers over 3 years. Juniper has developing their AI system for longer than other competitors, we felt we would be in better hands with their system”.
With over 300 sites to refresh, the IT team have particularly appreciated Juniper’s ease of deployment. The Juniper AP45 Access Points fit neatly into the existing mounting brackets at the council’s locations, the team used a mobile app to simply scan QR codes on the APs and set them using the Juniper Mist cloud.
AI-driven operations with Juniper Mist Wi-Fi Assurance cloud service and the Juniper Marvis Virtual Network Assistant streamline network operations. IT sets up key wireless experience metrics, and Wi-Fi Assurance automatically tracks them and optimizes the Wi-Fi.
When problems arise, Marvis is ready to proactively identify and resolve issues to stop the network blame game. For instance McCullough notes that Marvis quickly pinpointed some hidden DNS problems during HCC’s Wi-Fi testing phase.
Transform community connections
Juniper’s wireless access solution delivers real-time insights into the exact performance and service levels that mobile users and devices are experiencing. It automates corrective action with network self-tuning that identifies and fixes problems before they can negatively impact user sessions. As a result, no network-related trouble tickets have been raised at HCC sites with the new Juniper wireless. But more important than a quiet helpdesk is the impact of better connectivity on the community.
“We are trying to encourage people to come back together,” says McCullough. “It’s essential for us to have good technology like Juniper in our community hubs to improve the mental health of our community.”
With Juniper, Hertfordshire residents have access to faster wireless Internet in libraries, community centers, and other public buildings. Residents can come to their community hubs to meet likeminded people, volunteer, or sign up for a garden allotment. They can get social care for their children, older relatives, or family members with disabilities as well as help with the rising cost of living.
McCullough notes that the Council’s 8,500-strong staff will also benefit from office Wi-Fi that is faster, more secure, and supports more mobile devices. IT staff can be more productive, too, with an AI-driven network that delivers proactive insights and actions for continuous, high-quality user experiences.
With most of HCC’s workforce working from home during the pandemic, many are now adopting a hybrid working style. Having good workplace Wi-Fi is essential for workers and this can often encourage workers to engage in frequent office visits, because they know they will have a stable and reliable internet connection . McCullough adds: “ It’s important to maintain good contact with our colleagues and be physically present in the office at times. Having good connectivity in the workplace is another benefit of physically coming in to the workplace.”
Published August 2023