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Efficient surveillance capabilities - The hallmark of Synectics CCTV software

Royal Holloway University enjoys effective surveillance with Synectics software
Royal Holloway's management first turned to CCTV in the mid 1980s to provide basic security

Situated 19 miles west of London, Royal Holloway University of London in Surrey enjoys an international reputation for the highest quality teaching and research across the sciences, arts and humanities.

Founded by Victorian visionary, Thomas Holloway, its picturesque surroundings have provided countless opportunities for many generations of students and continue to provide the launch platform for many diverse and successful careers. Its Victorian architecture dominates sumptuous grounds in which its students learn and socialise. Unsurprisingly, it has also become a popular centre for corporate conferences and hosts year round banquets. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, the spectacular Grade 1 listed Founder's Building dominates the 135 acre site, whilst newly constructed accommodation blocks and modern tutorial facilities are home for much of the year to a vibrant community of 7,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Integration provides the key

With such a vast network of facilities, large foot-fall traffic and people movements throughout its expansive grounds, Royal Holloway's management first turned to CCTV in the mid 1980s to assist with fundamental site management, and to provide basic security. This early system consisted of a handful of cameras, placed at specific points around the site. Over the subsequent years, the system was expanded through many incarnations and evolved to include different cameras and equipment from a wide variety of manufacturers.

The operators have access to 100+ CCTVs via workstations equipped with Synectics' SynergyPro software

David Cox, CCTV Authorising Engineer for Royal Holloway takes up the story: "When I became involved with the college in 1998 the system was quite disparate, as the many staggered evolvements had resulted in a surveillance package containing a myriad of manufacturers' equipment of varying ages, which consequently was beginning to cause some control issues. Upon taking responsibility for the site's electronic surveillance, my priority was to re-evaluate the whole system, and in particular how we would effectively control it. The piecemeal control was replaced with a Baxall control and multiplexing system. After several years of service however, it became apparent that the needs of our multi-vendor hardware would be best met with a comprehensive control solution, provided by integration specialists, Synectics."

Rapid expansion at the campus has led to the original control room being recently complemented with the addition of a second control facility located in a new ‘services' building. Connected to two Synectics Tesseract switching matrices via a network of fibre-optic cables, both facilities enjoy access to the system's 100+ cameras via workstations equipped with Synectics' award winning SynergyPro control software. From the control desks, comprehensive camera coverage allows system operators to monitor the campus' extensive grounds, in addition to interior hallways and security sensitive rooms, such as the physics labs and picture gallery, which contains many important and valuable works.

Flexible control

SynergyPro control software provided the Royal Holloway team with a solution to the system's ‘multi-vendor hardware' issues, as David explains: "At the time, we had nearly 70 cameras including PTZ and domes supplied by a wide variety of manufacturers. By turning to Synectics for our control solution we were able to cohesively integrate the system's various manufacturers protocols, transforming the system into one effective unit and fulfilling the university's security remit to ensure that the students feel protected whilst they are on and around the campus."

The vast Royal Holloway site is criss-crossed with a myriad of leafy paths. These picturesque, quiet lanes provide students with a place for thoughtful study, and although not dangerous, can take on a more foreboding quality during the hours of darkness. To counter this, the university highlights to all students a number of ‘preferred routes' through the campus' grounds. Well-lit at night, and comprehensively covered by the CCTV system's cameras 24/7, these routes provide a worry free passage around campus for all students, day or night. "If students do feel apprehensive," adds David; "they can contact the control room on a direct telephone number and the trained operators will track them around the campus via the high-tech system."

Royal Holloway University ensures safety with Synectics’ surveillance software
Tracking persons on campus is simple and intuitive with Synergy Pro's touch-screen navigation technology
Tracking persons or events on campus is made simple and intuitive for control room staff via Synergy Pro's touch-screen navigation technology. David explains: "SynergyPro's graphical map display allows both experienced operators and new staff to be instantly ‘at home' with the system, and to directly relate to the cameras displayed via on-screen maps to the cameras situated around the site." Affording additional camera control and PTZ functions, the SynergyPro software used at the university, is complemented with Synectics' multi-functional ‘Navigator' control unit. This joystick based user interface features user assignable side-mounted buttons, to enable the rapid selection of the ‘Next' geographically located camera from the current one being viewed. This can prove invaluable to control room staff when tracking individuals through the campus's ‘preferred' routes.

Reliable system expansion

During the last academic year, additions to the university's facilities include several new accommodation blocks, which will be comprehensively covered by the CCTV system. David elaborates: "Camera additions to the system are easily integrated into the Synectics control system, allowing new cameras to be included into the mapping system and tagged numerically for ease of identification and selection."

As Royal Holloway continues to go from strength to strength, and student numbers increase, the campus will continue to expand through measured developments designed to meet the needs of its worldwide student base. Specifying a Synectics solution, with its associated third party equipment protocol interfacing, has given David the flexibility to choose the best technology available with which to develop the CCTV system's performance, whilst retaining the intuitive and simple control the operators have become accustomed to.

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