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Building smarter underground

Building smarter underground: Copenhagen Metro

The Copenhagen Metro expansion and CMT (the main contractor on the project) look to Atea for innovative IT that can withstand the unique challenges and hardships of working underground.

Begun in 2011, the Copenhagen Metro expansion is a sprawling, multibillion dollar (22.4 billion kroner) construction project. It is immensely complicated not only in terms of building new infrastructure underground: the project is overcoming huge hurdles in the IT area, too.

Martin Lauritsen, the IT Director at CMT—the main contractor for the project—describes it as one the most complicated IT undertakings he has faced in his career. He chose Atea as partner for the installation of 95% of all IT installations on the project. This includes: laptops, networks, printers and print solutions, mobile phones, servers, data storage, as well as secure backup power-supply units for critical equipment when standard power needs to be disconnected during excavation work.

Everything in constant motion underground

Since this project involves more than 20 construction sites around Copenhagen, the IT infrastructure supporting it has to be flexible and robust. In essence, the workplaces that need to be connected are constantly moving while tunneling work progresses. Lauritsen explains: “when we get to a construction site, first we have to find out how we can establish an internet connection that can be moved easily on short notice. But we can’t just lay cables anywhere. So the job often involves finding creative solutions to cover all corners of the site.”

The project also involves dealing with the challenges of working with large, heavy IT equipment. For example, this included having to deliver and install 105kg printers at 2nd floor locations: a job that didn’t always include the luxury of having a freight car at their disposal.

Durable IT in a tough environment

Keeping IT operational in an underground environment is a unique challenge. Amid all the dust, moisture, mud and concrete flooring, equipment has to function reliably. This influences the hardware choices that CMT makes in consultation with Atea. “Of our 180 laptops in use on the project, only four have simply been too broken to repair,” Lauritsen says. “Getting that level of performance shows you a lot of thought has gone making purchasing choices that match with where the products need to perform.”

Security needs to be just as bulletproof. On the project site, there are many confidential documents and design drawings that have to remain in authorized hand only. Therefore, printer choices are informed by that need. “We chose to change our entire print solution to a leased model at Atea about a year and a half ago, Lauritsen explains. “This means we currently have printers, central controls, automatic toner orders, and we save 30 percent in electricity on an annual basis.”

Keeping it simple and flexible

Since the start of this project, it’s been vital to have flexible IT solutions: you can’t always predict how many servers and how much data storage you’re going to need. Lauritsen explains: “We’re a large company that generates a lot of data, so it has been important to scale our IT as needed.” Just as important: solutions have to keep things simple. And working with Atea helps to keep everyone focused on what counts. As Lauritsen concludes: “Don’t just fall in love with some new smart feature. It could end up complicating your work. Be realistic and use your energy the right places.”

Adapted from original post on Atea.dk

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