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How COP26 printed sustainably, securely and anonymously

UK technology solutions company Pylon One had the enormous task of preparing the event space for the 2021 COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Not easy.

Part of its remit was to solve the challenge of enabling delegate printing. Sounds simple, until you look at the numbers: 180+ printers used, 170+ languages spoken, 250,000+ print jobs in three weeks…
Compounding the challenge was the need to ensure anonymity for delegates while following the United Nations’ desire for rigorous printing sustainability processes.
Fortunately, Pylon One had iTS (Info Technology Supply), Advanced UK team and PaperCut to help delegates print securely and safely.


UN wanted sustainable, anonymous, and secure printing:
“We got a brief from the UN of what they wanted to achieve,” says James Botting, senior engineer with Pylon One. James oversaw key infrastructure, servers, virtual and hardware environments, as well as the core networking and internet access for the COP26 conference.
“The UN with their print solution requires a certain level of sustainability,” adds John Houchin, director at Pylon One. “Which means that they don’t want it free, open, anyone can print anything to anywhere. They want to secure it, they want to be able to limit it.”
Compounding this was the need for anonymity: “There were areas where you were not allowed to know who people are,” says James. “They were an important delegate and we needed to allow that user to print without being able to identify them.”

Create unique script for seamless, secure delegate printing
The solution, when it came, was simple yet powerful. And all it took was a little thinking time from PaperCut and its partners iTS and Advanced UK.
“We created a script for PaperCut MF so that when the user printed, it would come up with an eight-digit number that was unique to their print job,” says James.
And that would be displayed on the screen for a certain period of time,” he continues. “And they could go and release their job at any printer and then the next person who would use their computer would get a different code.”

Zero printing problems for the world’s primary Climate Change conference
“Most of the people who printed with the solution were actually using it a little bit like an internet café,” laughs James. “So there were a large number of areas in the site that were built out with just generic laptops that are all signed in with the same user account.”
With the eight-digit code providing security and anonymity, Pylon One easily met the United Nations’ printing goals.
“The best thing that can be said about the user experience of PaperCut was that to 99% of people, it was invisible,” says John. “Once they had got used to how it worked, they didn’t need to know how it worked - they just knew that it did work.”
“The UN were our end client and they were very happy with the solution.”