Chester Zoo has grown rapidly since its foundation in 1930 so that today it is spread across more than 125 acres, and is home to more than 15,000 animals and 500 different species. It attracts more than 1.9 million visitors each year - making it the most popular UK visitor attraction outside London.

 With further growth planned, Chester Zoo began a site-wide vulnerability assessment, led by the zoo’s then head of security, Nigel Peers, out of which flowed a series of recommendations for modernisation of the zoo’s security.

Zoo security requirements

The Zoo needed a fully-integrated and networked camera system to enable the security team to spot and act on all threats faster; tighten perimeter security; improve visitor and staff health & safety monitoring; and support keepers in assuring the welfare of the animals in their charge.  

The new system needed to be centralised to support the fully-professionalised security patrolling team. However, video also needed to be distributed effectively to enable health & safety officers, keepers and researchers, to view specific sets of camera images when necessary. All this was only possible working in close partnership with IP video specialist systems integrator NW Systems Group.

Improving image quality and coverage

NW Systems, once on site, initially discovered that many of the legacy CCTV cameras were generating poor images.  NW Systems replaced approximately 60 faulty CCTV cameras with new Axis network cameras. Meanwhile, all remaining CCTV cameras were networked using AXIS M7016 and M7014 Encoders, alongside all new network camera transmissions. A total of 160 new Axis cameras were installed and networked by NW Systems across the original or ‘core’ zoo, The Islands and elsewhere, together providing much more comprehensive coverage site-wide.

AXIS P3225-LVE cameras were installed in numbers across The Islands, partly because of their versatility and robustness making it possible to site them both inside and outside animal enclosures. 

Special attention was paid to siting of cameras for total discretion. Where surroundings required, camera housings were camouflaged, thereby offering highly unobtrusive surveillance. In addition, the newly centralised control room was fitted with the very latest video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems.

State-of-the-art IP camera system at Chester Zoo UK
The new IP video system also supports post-event follow-up - including supplying timely, high quality video footage to the Police when necessary

Tightened security at main entrance and car park

NW Systems also provided increased coverage across the recently renovated Jubilee Quarter, the Zoo’s main entrance and large car park serving it. It also installed several Axis Q6000-E PTZ Dome Network Cameras, alongside Axis C3003-E Outdoor Network Horn Speakers, clamped onto existing lighting masts throughout the car park.

This enables the Zoo’s security team to monitor activity around the 1000-vehicle capacity car park, for the protection of visitors and their belongings. The loud speakers can be used to transmit live messages to arriving visitors to guide them towards the entrance and to deter any potential wrong-doing.

Animal welfare and keeper safety needs

NW Systems was also called in to help solve a specific concern of the Zoo’s Lead Elephant Keeper, associated with opening large gates to let the elephants out of the Elephant House into the wide-open habitat and back into the elephant house at night.

The existing remote door control system was now supported by high quality live views provided by five-megapixel AXIS P1357-E network cameras covering the doors. These same cameras were also being used to capture the magical moments of elephants giving birth to their babies – three baby elephants have been captured on these cameras over the last 18 months. The video sequences were shown live via the Zoo’s website and recordings have been also been kept for marketing purposes.

Rationalise, network and centralise security operation

Over a three-year period, working in close partnership with the UK’s largest visitor attraction outside London and largest zoo in the UK, NW Systems has helped Chester Zoo to rationalise, network and centralise its security operation, underpinning the professionalisation of the Zoo’s security team. NW Systems has also provided the right platform for distribution of high quality video images to meet zoo keepers’ specific operational and research needs.

The new system also now supports keepers’ animal welfare and behaviour research requirements - helping them to spot and discourage inappropriate visitor interaction with animals. It provides vital evidence in case of any incidents which might result in insurance claims.

The IP cameras spot and discourage inappropriate visitor interaction with animals
The new system also now supports keepers’ animal welfare and behaviour research requirements

Potential threat identification

From a security perspective, helping the Zoo’s security team to identify potential threats more rapidly – using video images to brief patrolling officers on where to go and what to anticipate on arrival. The system enables the security team to assess and prevent escalation of any threat by moving rapidly and effectively to the scene and then, once there, acting in a way that is proportionate with a pre-identified threat. The new IP video system also supports post-event follow-up - including supplying timely, high quality video footage to the Police when necessary.

The result is a state-of-the-art IP camera system which transmits video from nearly 300 Axis cameras to a modern, IP-based centralised control room. It also offers the potential to deliver live and recorded video to patrolling officers’ mobile devices on the ground when the time is right. Vanderbilt networked intruder alarms have also been installed by NW Systems to further protect key buildings around the site.

"Chester Zoo now has a video security platform
which is highly reliable, expandable and future-proof"

Beyond standard security surveillance

Nigel Peers, Security Manager, Chester Zoo, summarised: “Chester Zoo now has a video security platform which is highly reliable, expandable and future-proof. We know that whatever our requirement in terms of intelligence, video analytics and integration with other physical security systems such as intruder alarms or access control systems; it’s possible to bring it all together with our new IP video system displayed in the Zoo’s new security control room. Speed and appropriateness of response to threats is now assured.”

Frank Crouwel, Managing Director of NW Systems, added: “I’m very proud that we’ve been able to work with Chester Zoo every step of their three-year journey to upgrade and harden their physical security provision; while also creating a camera system which supports many other operational requirements from visitor and staff health and safety, to animal welfare and behaviour research, as well as retail management and loss prevention.”

Gareth Simpson, Head of Site Operations at the Zoo said: “I’m very pleased that we selected NW Systems to help transform our security provision, working alongside our Security Manager Nigel Peers and the rest of my team.

They’ve been highly responsive and sensitive to our unique, multi-dimensional needs which go way beyond standard security surveillance: using cameras for everything from visitor and staff safety, animal welfare monitoring and behaviour research studies, right through to meeting and exceeding tightening Crowded Places terrorist-threat mitigation requirements and supporting the Police with any enquiries. NW Systems is a great long-term partner for us.”

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service

The 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament is bringing 32 national teams and more than 400,000 foreign football fans from all over the world to 12 venues in 11 cities in Russia. Fans are crowding into cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan. Given continuing global concerns about terrorism, security is top-of-mind. Protection of the World Cup games in Russia is focusing on an “integrated safety, security and service approach,” according to officials. Combining the term “security” with the terms “safety” and “service” is not an accident. An aggressive security stance is necessary, but at the end of the day, fan safety is paramount, and a service-oriented approach ensures a positive fan experience. Medical responders will be working side-by-side with police and antiterrorism personnel. Risk management best practices We asked Sean T. Horner and Ben Joelson, directors of the Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm focused on best practices in security and risk management, to comment on security at FIFA World Cup 2018. Although not involved in securing the 2018 World Cup, the Chertoff Group is experienced at securing large events and enterprises using risk management, business practices and security. Integration is another important aspect of protecting the games, says Horner. The use of multiple resources, including Russian military, intelligence and law enforcement, will be closely integrated to provide the best security for the large-scale event in each of the host cities, he says. The approach will be centralised and flexible, with resource deployment guided by effective situational awareness. Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city “There is a unified command structure at the Russian Federation level, and they will keep resources in reserve and shift them as needed to various events and venues based on any specific intelligence, in effect deploying resources where threats are greatest,” says Joelson. “There will also be some regional commands, and resources will incorporate a spectrum of police and military personnel ranging from the ‘cop on the beat’ to the Spetsnaz, the Russian ‘special forces'.” Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city, and additional forces can be shifted as necessary, he notes. Role of law enforcement In Russia, the lines of separation between law enforcement and the military are not as stark as in the United States, for example, where military forces are restricted from deployment for domestic law enforcement by the Posse Comitatus Act. In Russia, there is no such restriction.  A broad range of technology will play a role at the World Cup, Horner and Joelson agree. Technology will be used primarily as a force multiplier and a decision-support tool for security personnel. There are robust CCTV systems in many Russian cities, and mobile CCTV systems, such as camera towers or mobile security centres on wheels, will also be deployed. Technologies will include infrared cameras, flood lights, and ferromagnetic screening systems to scan hundreds of individuals as they walk by. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors. Behaviour analytics will be used as a decision-support tool. In addition to security in public areas, private CCTV systems in hotels, at transportation hubs, and inside the venues themselves will be leveraged. Video analytics and detection will help personnel review live view of people who may be acting suspiciously or who leave a bag unattended. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors Rigorous anti-terrorism measures A Fan ID card is required to enter the 2018 World Cup Tournament, even for Russian residents. The Russians have an aggressive stance against domestic terrorism, which will also help ensure the safety of the World Cup games, say Horner and Joelson. Terrorist group ISIS has promised “unprecedented violence” at the games, but they make similar threats at every major global event. Russia has been an active force disrupting ISIS in Syria, and experts suggest that losing ground geographically could lead to addition “asymmetric” terrorist attacks. However, Russia is leveraging all their intelligence resources to identify any plots and deploying their security apparatus to disrupt any planned attacks, experts say. Russia’s rigorous anti-terrorism measures include a total ban on planes and other flying devices (such as drones) around the stadiums hosting the World Cup. Private security In addition to military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel, private security will play a have a high profile during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Private security personnel will be on the front lines in hotels and in “fan zones.” They will operate magnetometers at entrances, perform bag checks, enforce restrictions on hand-carried items, etc. Private security will be especially important to the “guest experience” aspects of protecting the games. Private security will be especially important to the “guest experience” aspects of protecting the games Another private security function at the World Cup is executive protection of dignitaries and high-net-worth individuals who will be attending. Executive protection professionals will arrive early, conduct advanced security assessments before VIPs arrive, and secure trusted and vetted transportation (including armoured cars in some cases.) VIPs will include both Russian citizens and foreign (including U.S.) dignitaries attending the games. Private security details will be out in force. Aggressive security approach Overeager and outspoken fans are a part of the football culture, but Russia will deploy a near-zero tolerance policy against hooliganism and riots. An overwhelming force presence will take an aggressive approach to curbing any civil disturbances, and offenders will be removed quickly by Russian security forces. Strict restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol will be enforced in the venue cities before and after the matches. Officials will also be cognisant of the possibility of a riot or other event being used as a distraction to draw attention from another area where a terrorist event is planned. It will be a delicate balance between deploying an aggressive security approach and preserving the fan experience. Joelson notes that freedom of speech is not as valued in Russia as in other parts of the world, so the scales will be even more tipped toward security. “The last thing they want is for things to get out of control,” says Horner. “The event is putting Russia on the world stage, and they want visitors to walk away safely after having a great time and wanting to go back in the future.” Attendees should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations" Precautions for World Cup attendees Attendees to the World Cup in Russia should take some basic precautions, Horner and Joelson agree. For example, Russia requires a translated, notarised letter explaining any prescription drugs. The country has a more aggressive foreign intelligence environment, so visitors cannot depend on their data being private. Joelson recommends the usual “social media hygiene” and privacy settings. Visitors should not post information about their travel plans or locations, and it’s best to travel with a disposable mobile phone that does not contain personal information. Location tracking should be deactivated. Travellers should also beware of talking and sharing information with others, or of saying anything derogatory. “They should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations,” says Joelson. “If you bring a personal electronic device, you should expect that it has been compromised,” says Horner. Text messages and email will not be private, and he suggests creating an email address used only for travel. Don’t leave drinks unattended. Travellers from the U.S. should register at the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) operated by the U.S. State Department. “Plan before you travel and before you get to the airport,” says Horner.

The benefits and challenges of in-camera audio analytics for surveillance solutions
The benefits and challenges of in-camera audio analytics for surveillance solutions

Audio is often overlooked in the security and video surveillance industry. There are some intercom installations where audio plays a key role, but it’s not typically thought about when it comes to security and event management. Audio takes a back seat in many security systems because audio captured from a surveillance camera can have a different impact on the privacy of those being monitored. Audio surveillance is therefore subject to strict laws that vary from state to state. Many states require a clearly posted sign indicating audio recording is taking place in an area before a person enters. Analytic information derived from audio can be a useful tool and when implemented correctly, removes any concerns over privacy or legal compliance. Audio analytics on the edge overcomes legal challenges as it never passes audio outside of the camera Focused responses to events Audio analytics processed in the camera, has been a niche and specialised area for many installers and end users. This could be due to state laws governing audio recording, however, audio analytics on the edge overcomes legal challenges as it never passes audio outside of the camera Processing audio analytics in-camera provides excellent privacy since audio data is analysed internally with a set of algorithms that only compare and assess the audio content. Processing audio analytics on the edge also reduces latency compared with any system that needs to send the raw audio to an on-premises or cloud server for analysis. Audio analytics can quickly pinpoint zones that security staff should focus on, which can dramatically shorten response times to incidents. Audio-derived data also provides a secondary layer of verification that an event is taking place which can help prioritise responses from police and emergency personnel. Having a SoC allows a manufacturer to reserve space for specialised features, and for audio analytics, a database of reference sounds is needed for comparison Microphones and algorithms Many IP-based cameras have small microphones embedded in the housing while some have a jack for connecting external microphones to the camera. Microphones on indoor cameras work well since the housing allows for a small hole to permit sound waves to reach the microphone. Outdoor cameras that are IP66 certified against water and dust ingress will typically have less sensitivity since the microphone is not exposed. In cases like these, an outdoor microphone, strategically placed, can significantly improve outdoor analytic accuracy. There are several companies that make excellent directional microphones for outdoor use, some of which can also combat wind noise. Any high-quality external microphone should easily outperform a camera’s internal microphone in terms of analytic accuracy, so it is worth considering in areas where audio information gathering is deemed most important. In-built audio-video analytics Surveillance cameras with a dedicated SoC (System on Chip) have become available in recent years with in-built video and audio analytics that can detect and classify audio events and send alerts to staff and emergency for sounds such as gunshots, screams, glass breaks and explosions. Having a SoC allows a manufacturer to reserve space for specialised features. For audio analytics, a database of reference sounds is needed for comparison. The camera extracts the characteristics of the audio source collected using the camera's internal or externally connected microphone and calculates its likelihood based on the pre-defined database. If a match is found for a known sound, e.g., gunshot, explosion, glass break, or scream, an event is triggered, and the message is passed to the VMS. If a match is found for a known sound, e.g., gunshot, explosion, glass break, or scream, an event is triggered, and the message is passed to the VMS Configuring a camera for audio analytics Audio detectionThe first job of a well-configured camera or camera/mic pair is to detect sounds of interest while rejecting ancillary sounds and noise below a preset threshold. Each camera must be custom configured for its particular environment to detect audio levels which exceed a user-defined level. Since audio levels are typically greater in abnormal situations, any audio levels exceeding the baseline set levels are detected as being a potential security event. Operators can be notified of any abnormal situations via event signals allowing the operator to take suitable measures. Finding a baseline of background noise and setting an appropriate threshold level is the first step. Installers should be able to enable or disable the noise reduction function and view the results to validate the optimum configuration during setup Noise reductionA simple threshold level may not be adequate enough to reduce false alarms depending on the environment where a camera or microphone is installed. Noise reduction is a feature on cameras that can reduce background noise greater than 55dB-65dB for increased detection accuracy. Installers should be able to enable or disable the noise reduction function and view the results to validate the optimum configuration during setup. With noise reduction enabled, the system analyses the attenuated audio source. As such, the audio source classification performance may be hindered or generate errors, so it is important to use noise reduction technology sparingly. Audio source classificationIt’s important to supply the analytic algorithm with a good audio level and a high signal-to-noise ratio to reduce the chance of generating false alarms under normal circumstances. Installers should experiment with ideal placement for both video as well as audio. While a ceiling corner might seem an ideal location for a camera, it might also cause background audio noise to be artificially amplified. Many cameras provide a graph which visualises audio source levels to allow for the intuitive checking of noise cancellation and detection levels. Analytics take privacy concerns out of the equation and allow installers and end users to use camera audio responsibly Messages and eventsIt’s important to choose a VMS that has correctly integrated the camera’s API (application programming interface) in order to receive comprehensive audio analytic events that include the classification ID (explosion, glass break, gunshot, scream). A standard VMS that only supports generic alarms, may not be able to resolve all of the information. More advanced VMS solutions can identify different messages from the camera. Well configured audio analytics can deliver critical information about a security event, accelerating response times and providing timely details beyond video-only surveillance. Analytics take privacy concerns out of the equation and allow installers and end users to use camera audio responsibly. Hanwha Techwin's audio source classification technology, available in its X Series cameras, features three customisable settings for category, noise cancellation and detection level for optimum performance in a variety of installation environments.

How important is packaging in the commercial security market?
How important is packaging in the commercial security market?

High-quality products are the building blocks of successful physical security systems. How they are packaged may sometimes be seen as an unimportant detail or an afterthought. But should it be? Effective packaging can serve many functions, from creating a favorable customer impression to ensuring the product isn’t damaged in transit. Packaging can also contribute to ease of installation. On the negative side, excess packaging can be an environmental concern, especially for customers who are sensitive to green factors or to minimising waste. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Is packaging of products important in the commercial security market? Why or why not?