STCS ENABLES SMART EDUCATION SOLUTIONS/ STUDENT CONNECTIVITY FOR
University of Hail
Ha'il Province, North-western Saudi Arabia
Services and Solutions provided
Smart wireless network: consultancy, network design, and implementation.
Network security (Cisco ISE)
Physical security: CCTV, Biometric Authentication, Entry Barriers.
“STCS has enabled the University of Hail to deliver on our promise of providing complete e-learning facilities to our students; fulfilling our commitment to provide the latest technology to support, enable, and advance academic studies.”
Founded in 2006, the University of Hail’s vision is to achieve leadership and excellence in education, research studies, and community service. It drives continuous improvements in the value it delivers to students and staff, in line with the principles of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030; development of a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation.
The University’s main specialities are engineering and medical; there are three laboratories in each of its three campuses. The entire estate incorporates around 45 buildings spread across a vast area, serving the needs of more than 30,000 students.
Education fulfils a fundamental and critical role in realising these goals. Of equal importance, technology accelerates achievement and supports the acquisition of knowledge. The bulk of Hail’s student population attends campus equipped with personal mobile devices. The University recognised that it had to assimilate these behaviours into modern teaching methods by bringing wireless connectivity onto campus.
[Name and title] explains why the University identified the need for a significant step forward in its network infrastructure: “Our University has to be equipped with the technology it takes in order for us to make a significant contribution towards the building of society and a strong knowledge-based economy for Saudi Arabia. We needed to become a ‘smart university’ to achieve these goals, and to raise perceptions among potential students that UoH is the place to be.”
To bring e-learning capabilities into the University’s services required a modern infrastructure – based on fiber optics communications – to provide the foundations for a smart wireless network. Before this project commenced, students had had limited access to the Internet, and communications in and around the campus were slow. [name, title] asked STCS to bring connectivity up to date and ready for the future. Of particular focus was the need to give students easy, any time access to the student portal.
The brief to STCS was wide-ranging. In addition to seamless Wi-Fi coverage, Hail was looking for greater control over the flow of students into its laboratories; ensuring that access was allowed only on an authorised basis. Physical security was as much a concern to the University as cyber-security.
Future-proofing the network: When STCS network engineers started planning the new network they discovered that no reliable drawings existed to allocate appropriate locations for the wireless access points – essential in providing connection to the existing wired network. To solve the problem they brought in experienced AutoCAD engineers to create precise site drawings. The University is now equipped with 1,000 access points.
Visibility, security, and control: This infrastructure in itself opened up a broad front of security concerns which STCS addressed with the implementation of Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). The University now benefits from secure access management and visibility across all network components. Administrators can see which devices are on the network at any time, operate policy controls to permit appropriate access to appropriate individuals, and ensure device compliance. STCS engineers transferred knowledge on how to work with these solutions through an intense process of knowledge transfer to the customer’s own IT teams.
A smarter, safer and more secure environment: Physical security was also a concern to the University. The STCS team provided a flexible service by planning and implementing both an extensive CCTV network and physical arm barriers at key points across all three sites. STCS also installed biometric authentication systems to provide reliable traffic flows within the laboratories. The system only permits student access to the labs when their schedule necessitates a lab session, eliminating overcrowding in the labs and providing a better working environment for authorised users.
Name says that the team from STCS demonstrated a high level of commitment to problem solving as the implementation rolled out: “They encountered numerous physical and logistical hurdles. Any of these seemed to me to be compelling factors for the schedule to overrun. I was very impressed with their ability to think and work round every problem, however, and the entire complex, multi-faceted project was complete on time and within budget.”
Modern learning: Across all campuses, and for all students, faster wireless internet access has created a more modern learning environment and stimulated more interaction between students and faculties via the student portal.
Peace of mind: A safe and secure environment has enhanced both the benefits and the pleasure of student life. All CCTV cameras are served by one Communications Centre providing constant vigilance across the estate.
Future proofing: The University of Hail and STCS have become partners in future-proofing the University’s value, capabilities and relevance in a thriving economy and are working together on Phase II of the University’s digital transformation: building a private cloud.
The diagrams created by the STCS team to facilitate access point planning have now been adopted as standard reference documents for any future developments on the campuses.
STCS is committed to continuous improvement for our customers and embracing the future now. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the STC Group, we are the leading ICT services and solutions provider in KSA with over 800 employees serving customers from 35 cities within the Kingdom.
We share a future vision with our customers – where the needs of society, the enhancement of education, the attainment of better citizen and customer outcomes, and safer, securer and smarter environments are not just a long term aspiration; they are achievable now. For STCS achievement thrives on finding better ways of doing things for our customers. This is the true spirit of innovation.