At the University of Chichester, one of the main problems was the use of shared equipment such as keyboards, mice, VR headsets, mocap components, cameras and anything that could be used by more than one person and not effectively cleaned using traditional methods involving moisture or heat. Vernon Francis, lead technician, was given the rather large task of coming up with a way of navigating these difficult circumstances and turned to research that they were already carrying out into UVC technology.
UVC in simple terms uses high frequency light (254 nM) to kill bacteria and viruses that are exposed to it. There was talk of creating their own product, and exciting as that may be, there are several safety checks required to effectively create a UVC product. Vernon turned to Uvisan.
As touched upon above, the main problem faced by the University of Chichester was the potential spread of Covid-19 as devices and equipment are shared and used by multiple people. This may seem like a small problem but has multiple knock on effects and creates a much bigger problem when considering the broader picture. A brief overview of this can be seen below.
Library / student equipment hire – Hired equipment such as keyboards and mice were currently being sanitised using wet wipes. Wipes are largely ineffective, expensive and time consuming (you can read more about this here). Where wipes were not possible, equipment would be quarantined for 72 hours before being allowed to be handed over to the next student. In many cases, equipment was retired indefinitely.
VR headsets – VR headsets became unusable as wipes can cause significant damage to the sensitive equipment and when the headsets are in use they are placed in such close proximity to dangerous areas such as the nose and mouth. Unfortunately due to Covid, the VR department was unable to continue operation.
Interactive teaching aides – The large volume of the used devices and complex process of sanitation caused logistical and operational challenges to meet required criteria of safe and stable operation.
Cameras and accessories – A large part of the compass of activity focused around film production. As a key component to the whole operation, cameras and all accessories needed to be quarantined prior to use due to restrictions of being treated with moisture.
Stationary / shared equipment – In the more general sense, there are a significant amount of accessories, stationary, tools etc that you wouldn’t give a second though about picking up. In today’s world this poses an obvious threat.
General sanitation practices – Most places operate in a way where the overarching principles are ‘do our best, be careful and wipe everything down’ as a matter of routine in order to become Covid secure. There are no firm procedures in place, or the ones that are there are difficult or time consuming to put into practice.
Budgets locked – There are budgets set aside for everything in universities and Chichester is no different. The difficulty is that in order to purchase certain equipment, you must be able to operate it safely. Unfortunately this was not possible in some cases so budgets remain inaccessible.
Environmental impact – Wipes and PPE are incredibly damaging to the environment. Producing large quantities of waste wipes is far from ideal.
Increased expenditure – Wipes and PPE aren’t cheap, especially when buying such large quantities and there was also a requirement for additional equipment to aid where existing equipment was in quarantine.
Staff time cost – Lecturers and staff throughout the university were having to spend more and more time cleaning and sanitising equipment. A requirement in order to continue teaching.
Although some of the above may seem trivial, the reality is that it all adds up to a very significant problem. Is the university operating as safely as it could be? Is the university offering the best possible experience to the students? Is there a way that things could be improved? Many universities and other establishments are likely to relate to these problems and be in a similar situation.
After much deliberation, Chichester University decided to purchase 5 UVC Sanitation Cabinets and put them into use immediately. A brief overview of the changes are as follows:
Library / student equipment hire – Equipment such as mice and keyboards can now be stored in the sanitation cabinets where there is room to do so and/or run through a cleaning cycle which takes only 5 minutes. There is no quarantine time period so all equipment can be in circulation at all times facilitating the proper function of this vital resource.
VR headsets – Uvisan was originally designed specifically for VR Headsets and so slotted seamlessly into the VR department. The headsets can now be stored securely, charged and sanitised all simultaneously. More importantly, they are now back in use.
Interactive teaching aides – Tablets could now be stored in the cabinets, charged overnight and sanitised between classes. The cabinets have a capacity of up to 50 tablets and takes 5 minutes to sanitise, certainly quick enough to perform during class change overs.
Cameras and accessories – Cameras can now be sanitised prior to use and after each activity. Structurally complex and sensitive equipment restricted from moisture treatment can now be safely sanitised in matter of minutes.
Stationary / shared equipment – By giving certain items a ‘home’ in the cabinets, it became possible to significantly reduce the risk of spreading infection by placing such equipment in the cabinets as a matter of routine.
General sanitation practices – Touched on in the previous point, it was now possible to create solid, tangible sanitation processes in a number of departments and areas across the university. Great for the staff, great for the students, saving time and facilitating a much more organised approach.
Budgets unlocked – Being able to demonstrate a secure working environment allows for budgets to be unlocked for the all important equipment that university desperately needed.
Environmental impact – Uvisan is 100% recyclable and has no waste product, carbon footprint reduced and a strong move in the direction of ethical processes.
Reduced expenditure – Although there is an initial outlay, spend on wipes has decreased and by bringing back lots of equipment into circulation this has actually helped to save money in the long run.
Staff availability – No more frantic bouts of cleaning in between lectures freeing up time and generally helping everything to run a lot smoother.
There were a number of issues faced by Chichester and by purchasing the Uvisan cabinets they have since made some truly valuable improvements.
“At the University of Chichester we take pride in ensuring our students have the safest as well as the best experience across everything we do.”
“We needed a solution that was easy to use and would eradicate any infection risk without damaging the sensitive equipment used by our colleagues and students. The Uvisan cabinet was the perfect proven solution allowing us to clean all our equipment in a simple and quick cleaning cycle.”
Rod Matthews – University of Chichester