WHEN the new £790million Forth crossing opens in four years’ time, it will be partly thanks to the expertise of a Selkirk-based company that the bridge is actually in the right place.
The Networking Company specialises in IT and network support, and installing business computer networks across Scotland.
The Networking Company provides broadband, internet services, hardware and off-site backup, among other services, to the nation’s businesses.
Started in 1999 by husband-and-wife team, Allan and Pauline Williams, the firm, which is based in Selkirk’s Back Row, now has a workforce of 12.
At the end of the summer, a team of four from The Networking Company found themselves scaling cranes and floating on barges, all part of work to ensure good wireless communication links between the various operations to make sure the new bridge’s massive legs were positioned in exactly the right spots.
“The new bridge is supported on three legs and obviously it was crucial these were sited in the right places,” explained Mr Williams this week.
“They were lowered into position from a giant barge and we were contracted to ensure there were wireless communication links between the cranes and the GPS units on the legs.
“They were working to tolerances of just a few centimetres and if there had been a loss of communication for any reason and the legs ended up located in the wrong positions, it would have been a pretty big problem.”
Mr Williams explained there was on-going monitoring of the legs which are all now in position.
“Because we had to work at height and work on the water, we had to undertake specialist training to cover those risk areas, including jumping into swimming pools and swinging about suspended in the air which are not usual activities for people involved in IT support!” As well as the Forth crossing project, The Networking Company ensures some 70 holiday parks across Scotland have public wireless access and is now one of the largest providers of such services in the country.
Mr Williams, who has worked in the IT industry since 1986, says his team of Borders communications experts are also working on providing long-range wireless links across Loch Fyne for caravan sites.
“When it comes to tourism, if you are wanting to attract people out of their homes and into rural parts of the country, increasingly you are having to supply services such as internet links,” he told TheSouthern.
“We are also working on sites in Yorkshire, Cornwall and Devon. As well as that, we have been involved with a project in the Ettrick and Yarrow areas, so it’s a busy time.”
There is also another exciting development that The Networking Company is involved in and could see Scotland as the ideal location for the new technology used to host data servers.
“While California might seem a great place for that kind of thing, when it comes to natural disasters it is not so great.
“Yet Scotland could be the ideal place and we’ve been working on a project involving a data centre in Dumfries. The idea is if something happens to your building, such as it burns down, your data and files are safe because they’re hosted somewhere else.
“Co-location of data servers is something we’re starting to get more involved with.”