Birmingham has been the focus for £6 billion of new investment, £500m of which was allocated to the redevelopment of the Bullring.

Phase One of the redevelopment of Bullring, a 4,500 square metres state-of-the-art Indoor Market, opened to the public in October 2000. The main Bullring development opened in September 2003 and has transformed the historical heart of the city, linking the markets and the New Street/High Street areas.

New open spaces, streets, walkways, improved public transport links and car parking have been created as well as numerous cafes and restaurants among 140 shops that include department stores for Selfridges and Debenhams department stores.

The statistics surrounding the redevelopment of the Bullring shopping area are somewhat impressive. 15,500 tonnes of steel, 90,000 cubic tonnes of concrete, and 12,000 square metres of glass has been used to create,110,000 square metres of retail space comprising over 140 shops, 3100 car parking spaces and 8000 new jobs.

Working with the City Council, the Birmingham Alliance has ensured a phased and structured approach to what is Europe's largest city centre retail regeneration project. The Birmingham Alliance is a partnership between Hammerson, Henderson Global Investors and Land Securities. It was formed to carry out a phased redevelopment of 40 acres - that's the equivalent of 26 football pitches - in the heart of Birmingham's city centre.

CCTV - an essential component

Not surprisingly, security and health and safety issues are of paramount importance when such a major redevelopment is undertaken and the provision of a sophisticated, integrated CCTV system has been regarded as an essential component.

There are very few CCTV manufacturers that have the capability to engineer a system of such complexity and even fewer that have the experience of doing so. Vicon'slink to the New Bullring came via the main contractor, Sir Robert McApline, having successfully worked with Vicon equipment on other major projects. Vicon were invited to cooperate with the design consultant WSP on behalf of the client, Birmingham Alliance, to produce the required solution at the Bullring.

The Bullring site employs 26 Vicon Kollector Elite digital video recorders

"In terms of its complexity, our engineering team has previously provided solutions for a large number of similar projects," said Mel Hatchard, Sales Director of Vicon Europe. "This however is one of the largest projects that we have so far participated in. Being involved at an early stage of the planning of the project was invaluable and greatly contributed to its success. We learnt so much from working closely with the building contractors and the various low voltage installers and have become so much more aware of the process, particularly the M&E elements, involved in a major construction. We literally had to learn a new language."

The initial phase of the CCTV project for the Bullring, which was carried out over a two year period, was completed in September 2003. Over 250 cameras have so far been employed but as new buildings and thoroughfares are brought into the development, there will be more work to do. The Vicon engineered CCTV system had therefore been designed with inbuilt expansion capabilities.

A variety of cameras have been used including Vicon Surveyor dome cameras. Aesthetics are important in a modern shopping centre environment and dome cameras are widely used because they are non intrusive but at the same time, are a powerful deterrent. The thief, vandal or thug cannot be certain whether or not the camera hidden in a dome is looking at them. The Surveyor domes cameras were specified for their attractive appearance as well as their high performance. The cameras which can be programmed to move to 79 different preset positions and/or 8 separate guard tours, have a variable pan speed of up to 300 degrees per second and a tilt speed of up to 110 degrees per second.

In addition to the Surveyor dome cameras, colour cameras on pan & tilt heads and fixed position cameras have also been utilised. The fixed cameras installed in the lifts are housed in vandal resistant stainless steel which matches their environment so that they do not look out of place.

All of the cameras are networked via fibre optic cable back to a control room where operators view images on twelve 42-inch plasma screens and eight 15-inch monitors. The powerful Vicon Nova V1400 matrix system handles all the video switching, control and alarm handling and AurorA multiplexers provide the split-screen digital images.

Shoplifters Beware! Vicon’s surveillance system watches over Bullring Retail Complex
A variety of cameras have been used at the Bullring including Vicon Surveyor dome cameras

There is no analogue storage of visual images, such as traditional VHS tapes and VCRs; all images are collected, stored and managed using PC workstation-like digital recorders. The site employs 26 Vicon Kollector Elite digital video recorders. These high specification machines fully exploit the very latest technology to allow operators to quickly and easily review any incidents and if necessary, provide the police with evidence. The Kollector Elite, which can record 240 frames per second, utilises optimised MPEG4 compression and has the capability to store on-board up to 900GB of video images. Additional storage can be provided by way of external RAID arrays.

All of the operator monitors are recorded in real-time. For police purposes, video evidence can be easily transferred onto a DVD/CD or the images can also be converted to JPEGs to allow them to be e-mailed.

The ViconNet software platform used by the Kollectors ensures that each channel of video can be simultaneously displayed, played back, archived and streamed live to any point on the network as well as the control room. The graphical user interface (GUI) of ViconNet is very clear and intuitive to use enabling click and drag selection of live and playback video as well as easy changes to configuration settings.

Vicon's "open" protocol allows the Vicon V1400 central matrix to integrate with the Bullring's Protec fire alarm system, a Hills access control system supplied by PAC and a SCi Data car park monitoring system. This integration will assist operators in monitoring life critical situations.

There is also the ability to interact with the internal CCTV systems installed by individual stores located within the Bullring. Shoplifters beware!

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