The Students’ Union at UWE run a number of bars and shops across multiple campuses, with an estimated annual turnover of £3m. All of this trading goes through a centralised EPOS system which has to work flexibly and reliably.
When I entered my role as IT & EPOS manager for the organisation, I had inherited a separated bar and retail database, outdated EPOS hardware which was proving unreliable and insecure, and card payment machines which did not function properly and were not PCI DSS compliant. Working with senior management, I implemented a three year plan to refresh ageing hardware, increase security and expand our EPOS capabilities.
In the first three months of joining, I coordinated moving our main bar to a new £10m building, along with setting up a new shop. Working with network contractors and our EPOS provider, new tills were deployed in the shop and bars, along with new integrated card payment terminals. Remote tills were set up which the shop and bar can deploy at a moments notice with relative ease, allowing sales data and trends to be seen instantly which was never possible before.
One of the goals set was to create a Loyalty system, linking information from our 30,000 strong membership database and utilising student ID cards which every student has. NFC card readers were deployed and software was written to decrypt and decode the student ID number from the card and pass into the EPOS software. The organisation now has a functioning loyalty scheme allowing management to analyse, drill down and segment information which was never possible before, while increasing engagement with our services.
I led work on upgrading our card payment systems. When I joined, card machines in some of the shops were outdated, unreliable, expensive, did not accept contactless and were not PCI-DSS compliant. In our main shops and bars, integrated card payment terminals were deployed along with point of sale advertising and Apple/Android Pay support. I negotiated with card merchant providers to obtain a much improved card transaction and terminal hire fee, and agreed new terminals to be deployed in our smaller bars and shops. All of this has improved reliabilty dramastically
In the Summer of 2016, a new database was launched which combined the shop and bar databases. The new database has reduced unneccesary workloads, allowed even further integration with the Loyalty database and has improved reliability. The server now runs on a high availability clustered database server with a dedeicated application server. New tills were deployed to the main bar, further improving reliability and introducing new front display point of sale advertising to engage customers.
In March 2015 and March 2016, I led a team to broadcast the Students’ Union Election Results live from our on site venue.
2015 Results Show
In 2015, we broadcast the results from the RED Bar venue on the UWE Frenchay Campus. The broadcast reached over 300 students live, and continued to obtain views on YouTube and Facebook after the broadcast. This was all achieved on a very small budget, using resources that were already available.
Our team was responsible for setting up the stage, lighting, sound and visual streaming equipment. With assistance from the union’s graphic designer, on screen graphics and title cards were created within XSplit Broadcaster.
HP HD 4310 and Microsoft LifeCam Studio webcams were used for video capture, creating a four camera setup with two stage shots, an audience shot and an overall room shot.
A custom PHP web application was created (XSplit Titles) to create and store the on screen titles. Text could be pre-loaded and recalled quickly, with the intention to expand functionality and introduce Twitter feeds.
A late requirement to the broadcast was to run titles and VTs on both the stream and on stage. This was achieved by setting up a machine with PowerPoint and VLC, and then attach to both digital screens in the room/stage and capture in XSplit.
The stream was broadcast on UStream to over 300 students watching live, and later distributed on YouTube and Facebook.
Similar to 2015, we broadcast the Students’ Union election results from our new Students’ Union Bar in Frenchay. A similar setup was achieved, a wide angle camera showing most of the venue and a camera in the front for the stage. A plasma screen was placed in the background of the stage showing animations, a screen in front of the podium to help prompt the presenter. VTs were also run through both the webcast and the screens in the venue.
I need to give a huge thanks to my “Stream Team”, for without these guys these amazing web streams wouldn’t be possible at such a high quality. Thank you to Mikey Burton, Edd Burrell and Emma Brown for assisting me with these projects.
Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) is an independent organisation network set up to be a representative voice for all users of Mental Health Services in Bristol. The organisation required a website to be built to allow them to promote their network digitally.
This project involved consulting with the committee and attending general meetings to discuss options and feedback. A full project plan was developed for this website, including research, website setup and development, and training material.The goal of the website was to keep things simple on the homepage, and allow the user to explore the website through different pages.
The homepage opens up with any number of large striking images, powered by the Master Slider WordPress plugin. Underneath, a brief one line introduction of the organisation, and latest news from BIMHN. Clear and consistent navigation is at the top of every page, with the full logo on the home page, and an inline logo elsewhere on the site and when scrolled down on the homepage.
Each page is simple, with a sidebar on the left for pages, with sidebar page navigation, or on the right for blogs or news articles. Social Media is integrated to the website, with share buttons on every content page. The site is set up to allow blog posts and news articles, with the ability to keep them separate in the backend. A calendar page also exists for events by BIMHN and in the Bristol area.
The website uses the Bootstrap 3 framework and uses WordPress as the CMS.
The BIMHN branding was designed by the team at Union Design in Bristol.