Throughout my time at the University of the West of England, Bristol, I have been the main person maintaining the Hub Radio studios on Frenchay Campus. In 2015, the station relocated along with the parent Students’ Union to their new purpose built building, and Hub Radio received two rooms to locate their main studios in.
I was responsible for planning the studio relocation, taking into consideration the logistics of moving equipment safely, communicating with the University IT Services to ensure computer networking was set up correctly, and liaising with the University Estates department and Radica Broadcast Systems to ensure cabling was installed correctly for the studios and the AM transmitter.
The station now has two functioning studios, all with the ability to record or broadcast live. Each studio runs the PSquared Myriad Playout software, has a Voceware VClock display, has a dedicated phone line and aux inputs for laptops and media devices. Studio 1 is a 4-seat setup, while Studio 2 is a 2-seat setup with a separate DJ mixing area with Pioneer CDJs and Technics turntables. The studios are connected to a Allen & Heath IDR unit which allows for on-air switching and basic processing. Switching between automation and studio live on-air is controlled by software written by myself.
This has all been achieved with an extremely limited budget and small timeframe. Back end equipment was moved within a day, and Studio 2 was on air within three days ready for a live broadcast to thousands of new students.
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When I entered my role as IT & EPOS manager for the organisation, I had inherited a separated bar and retail database, outdated EPOS hardware which was proving unreliable and insecure, and card payment machines which did not function properly and were not PCI DSS compliant.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.