Connecting Devon and Somerset roll-out reaches award winning Dartmoor Zoo

Standing out and being unique is something that Dartmoor Zoo prides itself on. An award-winning family attraction, home to over 200 animals and set in 33 acres of beautiful countryside on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, it welcomes around a 100,000 visitors a year and many more enjoy it online through its web presence and other virtual media.

Before the Connecting Dartmoor & Exmoor programme, Dartmoor Zoo was stuck on a 1.2mbps broadband speed that kept dropping out and was run over 5 separate phone lines. Like any business this poor connection was holding the company back and preventing them from developing further.

With the arrival of Airband Community Internet, delivery partners for the Connecting Dartmoor & Exmoor programme, Dartmoor Zoo is now enjoying significantly better broadband speeds, enabling it to invest in a new on site IT networks and move to a cloud based system.

Achieving charitable status in 2015 has given the Zoo security for the future and brought its founder, Benjamin Mee’s dream of creating not only an outstanding family attraction but also a centre of excellence for research, conservation, and education, one step closer.

Benjamin Mee, Founder of Dartmoor Zoo explained “We were having to drive to Plymouth to be able to connect to the internet or even send emails, it made our frequent ‘We bought a Zoo’ discussions with Hollywood frustrating, let alone trying to manage the day to day business of running a Zoo.”

“Connecting Dartmoor Zoo has been a pleasure for Airband. It’s demonstrated just how important quality, fast broadband is to businesses, let alone charitable organisations who rely on growing an online presence to build awareness and encourage people to get involved,” said Redmond Peel, Managing Director of Airband.

Utilising Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the site, Dartmoor Zoo is looking to develop its visitor and educational offer with a ‘Dartmoor Zoo’ App, QI codes and augmented reality. The Dartmoor Zoo website and social media presence will be enhanced by the further development of its 3D guided tour, supported by live feeds from animal enclosures.  And most importantly to Ben, better connectivity will enable Dartmoor Zoo to further develop its reputation for conservation and research and build stronger links with global partners.

Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, said: “It’s great news that businesses like Dartmoor Zoo now have access to high-speed broadband through the Connecting Dartmoor and Exmoor programme.

“We are committed to seeing Dartmoor and Exmoor become truly digital and the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is playing a vital role in helping us become some of the best connected areas in the country.”

Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth at Devon Country Council, said: “The arrival of superfast broadband is one of the most important developments in Devon and Somerset. Superfast broadband is transforming the way we live and work. For businesses like Dartmoor Zoo, it can help deliver a competitive edge, which will help them attract new customers and find more efficient ways of working, whilst households can use it for a wide range of purposes, such as online learning, entertainment and shopping.”

The zoo’s Conservation and Research department has links with universities and higher education institutions enabling research into cognition, behavior, conversation, animal welfare and the social sciences. The new Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science building in partnership with Plymouth University supports students to undertake research placements as part of a range of degree and postgraduate courses.

Jo Rumble, Communities Officer for Dartmoor National Park said: “The role of a Dartmoor enterprise at the forefront of education and research is a great asset to the local area and delivering better broadband can help share and drive understanding further. Working with Connecting Devon and Somerset we are helping residents, businesses and visitors to make the most of the National Park by delivering better broadband.”

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said: “It is fantastic that residents and businesses in Dartmoor and Exmoor now have access to superfast broadband. Access to a high-speed broadband connection should not be limited to those who live in ‘hot spot’ areas and should be an accessible and affordable option to everyone.”

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