Siemens Building Technologies Security Systems, has been successful in winning an order worth £300,000 from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council for the complete refurbishment of the council's CCTV control room. The refurbishment will provide improved monitoring and recording facilities not only for Reigate & Banstead, but also for neighbouring Mole Valley Council. The procurement processes for this project took place under the terms of the framework established by OGC buying solutions, the trading arm of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which is part of HM Treasury.
The OGC framework, for which Siemens Building Technologies holds Catalist supplier status as a supplier of CCTV and security solutions, enables orders to be placed on the basis of advantageous pre-agreed terms and conditions. These framework agreements are aimed specifically at reducing the cost of procurement within the public sector as they offer best value for money from the 'best of breed' suppliers accredited under the agreement. The whole process is EU compliant and means that public sector can save time and money by having direct access to suppliers who have already been fully vetted and approved. Importantly, this method of procurement offers a reduced workload in terms of tender preparation, supplier evaluation and quality control.
For Reigate and Banstead Council, the benefits of using this scheme included its simplicity, and the relatively short timescale from the issue of tenders to the placing of orders.
In addition to its OCG approved supplier status, Siemens was able to bring a number of other important benefits to this project. Among these was the company's familiarity with the installation, as it supplied and maintained the original equipment, the established reputation of its equipment for performance and value, and its ability to handle all aspects of the work, including the appointment and management of subcontractors.
The work had been made necessary by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's decision to pool CCTV resources with those of neighbouring Mole Valley District Council. This decision was taken in conjunction with Surrey Police Authority, which works with both councils in the day-to-day operation of their CCTV installations.
As part of the new arrangement, the Mole Valley CCTV control room at Dorking Police Station will be decommissioned, with all monitoring and recording facilities for both councils provided by Reigate and Banstead.
The existing Reigate and Banstead control room installation, however, had insufficient capacity to cope with the extra inputs from the cameras operated by Mole Valley, and the age of the equipment meant that upgrading was an unattractive proposition. The decision was taken, therefore, to completely re-equip the control room, replacing the CRT monitors with energy-efficient flat-panel displays, and the existing tape-based recording systems with modern hard disk based digital video recorders (DVRs).
The new control room installation, which is now close to completion, will provide two operator stations, and will include 28 19-inch monitors and two 40-inch monitors mounted in a video wall. The system has been designed to provide total flexibility, and the operators can view images from any of the cameras connected to the system on any of the screens.
Programmed operating modes are also supported so that the system can be arranged, for example, to give priority to selected cameras or groups of cameras at particular times of day.
To complement the control room displays, Siemens is supplying and installing a new video matrix with sufficient capacity to handle inputs from 200 cameras. Since only 120 cameras are currently in use, this allows a large margin for future expansion.
Recording facilities are provided by a modular DVR system; this will initially comprise 10 modules, each with the capability of handling 16 cameras. The storage capacity of each module is 1.6 Tbytes, which is easily sufficient to allow images from all cameras to be retained for the required default period of 31 days. Should requirements grow in the future, the capacity of the recording system can be enhanced easily and economically simply by adding extra modules.
To ensure, as far as possible, that CCTV coverage is maintained while the new system is being installed, Siemens has planned the work in a number of phases, the first of which involved setting up a temporary control facility at Reigate Police Station. With this in place, the next step was to co-ordinate work with Surrey Police's contractors to totally gut the old control room, and then to install the new viewing screens.
These were then cabled to racks in the adjacent equipment room, where the new matrix and video recorders will be installed. The final step will be to remove the old control equipment and fit the new replacements, a process which can be completed in a very short time as all of the cabling required is already in place. It is only during this brief changeover period that the operation of the CCTV installation will be interrupted.
Siemens has worked in liaison with transmission providers BT and NTL in specifying necessary upgrades of existing transmission services including the leased fibre-optic lines which are being used to convey images from the Mole Valley cameras to the new Reigate and Banstead control room.
"Being able to use the OGC framework to buy from Siemens saved us a lot of time and effort," said Councillor Mrs Joan Spiers of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, "and we're also delighted with how smoothly the work is proceeding to date. When the new system is in place, we are confident that it will enable us to make significant cost savings, as well as helping us to enhance public safety and security."
"For us, a key factor is going to be the flexibility of the new system," said Richard Berryman of Surrey Police. "This will mean that we can, for example, easily home in on incidents and, if necessary, track people as they move between cameras. We're also looking forward to the new digital recording system which will not only give us much better quality images than the old analogue installation, but also make it a lot easier for us to find specific images that we want to review."
The Reigate and Banstead project is one of many that Siemens Building Technologies has, in recent years, handled for local authorities and police forces throughout the UK. In addition to surveillance systems, the company also has proven expertise in traffic monitoring and automatic number plate recognition.While it is willing to handle all and any aspects of a project, Siemens Building Technologies specialises in providing complete turnkey solutions that include all planning, management and sub-contract work.