|Safe houses have unusual and demanding requirements which must be considered when providing a security system|
Safe houses play an essential role in protecting vulnerable families, but ensuring the security of a safe house is a difficult and challenging task. A leading Liverpool-based social housing landlord has, however, found that an integrated electronic security system based on equipment from Siemens Security is providing an effective and dependable solution at one of its most sensitive properties.
The system was designed and installed by T G Baker Limited., a company with more than 30 years of experience in CCTV, access control and intruder detection projects. To ensure that this safe house would provide the best possible protection for residents, a security system was required that would meet a number of unusual and demanding requirements.
For example, as with most security systems, it had to guard against the entry of unauthorised persons but, in this application, the design of the system had to take into account the possibility that the persons attempting to gain access might also be receiving assistance from the safe house residents themselves.
In addition, the system not only had to cater for external security, covering approaches to the property and access points, it also had to provide coverage of the interior areas, to ensure that there was no misuse of fixtures, fittings and furnishings. It was important, however, that the installation should be unobtrusive, as one of the organisation's key objectives is to provide accommodation that is welcoming and comfortable for the residents.
The final key requirement was ease of use the staff at the safe house are invariably busy and, as a result, if the security system was complicated or time consuming to operate, it was unlikely to be used to its full potential. Presented with these requirements and the need to remain within strict budgetary limits, T G Baker developed an all Siemens solution based on SiPass Entro access control products and IR 100 intruder detectors, complemented by a CCTV system using Solaris dome cameras, Eventys digital video recorders (DVRs) and flat screen displays.
|The Siemens solution consisted of intruder detectors complemented by a CCTV system|
"Our experience of these products, all of which are supplied by Siemens, is that they are versatile, dependable and they offer excellent value for money," said Chris Aspinall of TG Baker. "And there's also another very important benefit of working with Siemens. Since the company is a single-source supplier for components covering every aspect of the project access control, intrusion detection and CCTV we could be completely confident that achieving the high level of integration needed would be straightforward to meet the very demanding criteria required by the client."
The system supplied by T G Baker covers the 39 self-contained flats, each with its own access door, that make up the property, as well as common areas, the main reception area and the external areas surrounding the buildings. The doors for the flats are provided with keyless access systems operated by smart cards. With this arrangement, it is easy to achieve a high degree of security for the residents, while allowing authorised staff to gain entry to any of the flats should it become necessary for them to do so. Smart cards that are lost and those belonging to residents who have left the safe house can be instantly deleted from the system, making improper use impossible.
Entro access control, integrated with an audio intercom system, is also provided for the two main entrance doors to the premises. These doors are arranged in an "air lock" configuration to give maximum protection against unauthorised or forced entry. Sensors are fitted to the windows of the flats to monitor the extent of opening. If a window is opened only wide enough to provide good ventilation, these sensors are not actuated. If, however, the windows are opened further to a point that would allow an intruder to be admitted, an alarm signal is sent to the main control panel, alerting staff of the need for further investigation.
| External areas are protected by PIR beam detectors linked to the CCTV installation|
External areas are protected by PIR beam detectors linked to the CCTV installation. If a beam is broken, a CCTV camera is automatically diverted to cover the area of the disturbance and, once again, an alarm signal is sent to the control panel. Images from the appropriate camera are also highlighted on the monitoring station display screen. The CCTV installation makes extensive use of Siemens Solaris fully functional domes which are unobtrusive, and combine remote pan and tilt facilities with a 26 times zoom to allow close examination of areas of interest.
These are complemented by a number of CVVS vandal-resistant domes. In the interior areas a number of CFVS fixed cameras are permanently directed on sensitive areas such as the main entry points to the property. All images collected by the CCTV system are automatically recorded by the high capacity Eventys DVRs, allowing them to be easily reviewed if and when required. Monitoring facilities for the whole installation, including CCTV display screens, are provided in the main reception area for the safe house, which is continuously manned. The installation has been designed to work with the minimum operator intervention, but also to draw the attention of the operator immediately to any situations that may require further investigation.
According to Chris Aspinall: "The security system makes the lives of the residents and staff much easier and safer. It gives comprehensive coverage without being obtrusive and, from an installer's viewpoint, the Siemens equipment is easy to work with, as well as being reliable".