The former Almondvale Shopping Centre and the new Elements Square extension
Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions were chosen to meet the demands of The Centre
Livingston in West Lothian, has been at the centre of a massive regeneration programme with substantial investment from Land Securities, one of the UK's leading real estate investments trusts. With a local shopping population that has grown by 70% since 1998, the former Almondvale Shopping Centre and the new Elements Square extension have been rebranded as The Centre - now one of the biggest shopping centres in Scotland.

Land Securities chose Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions as technology partner, to enhance the customer experience and to future proof the security systems required to meet the demands of a contemporary retail and leisure development.

The original Almondvale Shopping Centre security system was installed over 15 years ago, prior to the redevelopment and extension of The Centre which began in 2006 and was completed in October 2008. In late 2005, Siemens entered into discussions with Land Securities to design and implement a phased three year upgrade, valued at over a million pounds, that would allow the system to be extended into two new car parks and Elements Square, the 375,000 sq ft extension.

Land Securities' technical services manager John McLean explains: "It was a challenging development project that involved ensuring the continuity of existing systems during the works. Siemens adopted a multi disciplined approach, working closely with the building services team, architects and contractors to ensure that our security systems were never compromised."

Siemens provided Land Securities with a managed service package which made allowance for key phases in the retail development scheduled to take place in 2007 and 2008.

Blane McConnell, Business Development Manager for Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions, explains: "Our track record in working on complex multi-site developments, together with our innovative financing model meant that Siemens was perfectly placed to provide seamless support throughout the duration of the project."

The first phase involved the installation of PTZ Colour/Monochrome Dome cameras and fixed cameras to provide coverage of the new 2-storey ‘Centre Car Park 2'. Siemens created and installed a fibre communication network, which has the ability to transmit high definition images from multiple camera sites, providing a cost effective and secure solution.

Siemens' approach ensured that that The Centre's security systems were never compromised

Siemens were instrumental in the rebuilding of the new Comms Room and new Central Management Suite, where the number of cameras has increased four-fold with capacity for further expansion, when required. The Central Management Suite features a new monitor wall with sixteen 19" split screen TFT monitors and a central 40" ‘Event' TFT monitor. A separate console sits in front of the monitor wall and features two operator positions, each with a matrix control keyboard and two 15" TFT spot monitors.

The Central Management Suite is manned 24 hours a day by a team of security personnel. The team monitors and controls cameras not only throughout the shopping centre but also from an additional remote site at Dundee.

The existing 15-year-old camera matrix, with a finite capacity, was slow and cumbersome to use. It has been replaced with a new matrix and a new modular digital recording system.

John states: "Compared to the original 15-year-old recording system, the new system is unbelievably fast, there are three main reasons why it is proving invaluable. The clarity of the high definition images, speed of the retrieval of information and the fact that we have done away with paper handling as the data can be loaded straight onto disk."

Phase two consisted of the installation of new PTZ Colour/Monochrome Dome cameras and fixed cameras in new 4-storey state of the art The Centre Car Park 1. Additional cameras were installed in a link corridor to The Centre Car Park 2 from the additional shopping centre. Siemens installed another fibre communication network to support the required video and data transmission requirements. The DVR capacity was also increased to accommodate the new cameras.

John explains: "We have almost one million square feet to protect including wide pedestrian walkways, stairwells and parking areas. Our philosophy is to provide a security prevention service ensuring that all our customers feel safe and can shop with confidence. We have excellent safety standards with well lit access areas. Our car parks are brightly lit with music playing to add to the feeling of safety and protection."

 The Centre – one of the biggest shopping centres in Scotland
Siemens provides stylish security upgrade for Scottish retail & leisure development

The final, major phase of the development was designed in association with BDP Architects, Wallace Whittle and consultants, the Blackwood Partnership.

Elements Square was built with the modern day shopper in mind, featuring double height glass shop fronts, terracotta and zinc walls and granite flooring - to help give the feeling of shopping on the high street indoors, enabling customers to meet, relax and eat whatever the weather.

Siemens had to ensure that the front of house cameras all met with the architects' aesthetic requirements and included stainless steel finish PTZ dome cameras and unobtrusive bespoke grey painted fixed dome cameras. The finishes were required to fit the contemporary styling and blend with materials including zinc cladding and stainless steel as defined by the architects.

The DVR capacity was increased to accommodate the additional cameras and now features 15 x 16-channel recording servers that are now archived via 77 terabytes of RAID5 storage. Critical service spares including cameras, fibre transmission cards, monitors and DVR system components are held on site to minimize system down-time.

In October 2008, The Centre celebrated the opening of the latest major development, Elements Square and the rebranding of Almondvale Shopping Centre to The Centre. PTZ domes and fixed cameras were installed to cover all front and back-of-house areas and a fibre network was installed to link the signals from all the cameras back to the control and monitoring locations in The Centre Management Suite.

Today, the Centre accommodates over 155 units featuring many high street names including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, River Island and Warehouse with restaurants including Wagamama, Ask, Nando's, reaching 80 per cent of Scotland's population within a one hour drive time.