Improving the Student Experience: Intelligent Lockers at UCL
14 August 2019
Over the past year, Intelligent Lockers have been made available to UCL students for personal storage and charging electronic devices.
The project has been a joint development by Library Services and ISD, working with UCL Estates. The Cruciform Hub acted as a pilot site with 44 lockers, which launched in May 2018. Following a snagging period to address teething issues, the service was extended with additional banks of lockers rolled out to replace existing lockers and added in line with demand from students and library users.
Ben Meunier (Director of Operations, UCL Library Services) said:
“This is a service which UCL students have been requesting for some time, via surveys and ad hoc requests. We have a small number of banks of key-controlled lockers at some sites, however it has been challenging to manage. This new system is easy to use for students and it ensures that we can easily monitor whether lockers are being emptied as necessary. I am very grateful to the project team in ISD and Library Services who have helped to bring this project to fruition, particularly Maria Fernandez as Project Manager and the Library team at the various sites where we now offer card-controlled lockers.
Meeting student needs for storage solutions
UCL is London's leading multidisciplinary university, with over 40,000 students from 150 countries. Students have to carry books, laptops and other equipment across the city to help them with their studies and keeping everything safe and secure is a major challenge.
As an education provider UCL sets high standards in UCL 2034: the university aims to give students the best support, facilities and opportunities. That requires the university to cater for the whole spectrum of student requirements. One of the issues students had highlighted in past surveys was the need for easy-access secure lockers to store their possessions on campus. UCL recognised the need to offer a new service, available at the touch of a student’s ID card.
UCL worked with suppliers iLockerz for four years, to develop a suitable provision for intelligent storage solutions on campus.
Launched in May 2018, the service gives students access to metal lockers for short a termloan of one day or over the weekend. The keyless system is accessed via the user’s UCL ID, and they then follow the on-screen instructions.
Users can then store and leave their items, safe in the knowledge that they are securely stowed away. Many of the lockers also incorporate USB fast-charging so that electronics are charged and ready to use on collection.
Students no longer need to worry about hauling heavy books, laptops and study equipment across the city-wide campus and busy streets of London. This not only removes the physical burden of carrying bags but provides peace of mind so that they can focus on their studies.
Maria Fernandez, Senior Project Manager in IT Change and Project Delivery said:
“Delivering the Intelligent Lockers has been gratifying inasmuch as it is a service that the students had repeatedly asked for in the Student Survey. While the Intelligent Lockers for Students is not the most complex project or the largest budget I have managed, it is a project that has required large doses of perseverance. The project has encountered multiple challenges of different nature during the 5 years that has been intermittently in existence. I was a student myself hence I could identify with the benefits of having a locker to store your personal belongings while in the Library. Despite the many challenges, I thought that it was important to deliver a service requested by students – that has been my motivation to overcome the challenges faced.
The project is allowing UCL to gain much greater flexibility in managing locker use and ensure that we meet the requirements of our users. The touch screen control panel on the front of the iLockerz informs users of how long they can loan a locker before sanctions are put in place. For Library Services, that means much of the day-to-day management is automated whilst the software ensures that staff can monitor usage as and when required.
Banks of lockers have been installed in the Student Centre (over 120 lockers, distributed in the building) and in the Science Library Research Grid (46 lockers, 4th floor).