Consolidated CCTV Control Centre Boost for Cheshire West & Chester

Effectively we wanted a provider that would become an extension of our own team. QSG met those requirements and has devised a solution that is already producing cost and time saving benefits for us.
Peter Johnson, CCTV Manager for Cheshire West & Chester

Security systems specialist Synectics Security has helped unitary authority Cheshire West & Chester streamline security operations by upgrading and integrating CCTV provision in three town centre locations, and consolidating control to one main management base in Chester.

Prior to 2009, Ellesmere Port & Neston, Northwich and Chester (approximately 326,000 residents) fell under three separate authorities. When structural changes to the local government system were introduced, the three boroughs were replaced by one unitary authority – Cheshire West & Chester.

The merger presented a need and opportunity to upgrade CCTV provision in the three town/city centres, integrate the systems and maximise efficiencies by converging the three separate control rooms into one. As the largest of the three existing control rooms, Chester was chosen as the base for the new converged CCTV control centre.

Following a competitive tender, and having worked with the authority in the past to rectify legacy system faults, as well as upgrade and integrate new cameras, Synectics Security was selected to meet the brief.

Key considerations for Synectics Security were enabling the new control centre to fully integrate with historical analogue and more modern digital systems, making use of private/leased fibre optics and existing ICT networks and providing secure footage access and sharing capabilities, as well as facilitating the audit trails necessary for such a system.

The solution developed and implemented by Synectics Security meets these objectives and, over the five-year terms of service, will result in an estimated saving of £70,000 on line charges alone.

The new Chester control centre consists of three operator positions, two supervisor GUI, one review and three remote viewing stations, all operating on a single integrated system delivering quicker and more robust management access and processes.

A key feature of the centre is a master matrix wall consisting of 17 x 46″ Flatvision screens capable of displaying footage from 256 camera locations across Chester, Northwich and Ellesmere Port & Neston. Using Synectics wall controllers, authorised users can tailor their own specific settings, access and remotely control cameras, and generate reports using a wide range of selection criteria.

Peter Johnson, CCTV Manager for Cheshire West & Chester, said: “When deciding on the best way forward for CCTV across the authority, we conducted a detailed evaluation and risk assessment that revealed the benefits and potential pitfalls of integrating three different legacy systems into one configured network. What we needed was a team that would listen to our findings and use their own knowledge and experience to develop, implement and maintain a bespoke solution, in partnership with us.  Effectively we wanted a provider that would become an extension of our own team. Synectics Security met those requirements and has devised a solution that is already producing cost and time-saving benefits for us.”

Another key feature of the newly installed control room is the groundbreaking remote evidence software specified and integrated by Synectics Security. This facilitates secure 24-hour access by key third-party organisations, such as the police and HMRC, in line with data protection principles – the first system of its kind in the UK.

For Graeme Gerrard, Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary and ACPO lead on CCTV, the remote evidence feature is a significant development. He said: “Being able to access high-quality CCTV footage of suspected criminal activity quickly and securely is so important for modern-day policing. Through the new Chester control centre, we are able to do this without requiring system or personnel downtime.”

The new control centre is part of a wider body of work Synectics Security is undertaking for the council, with future initiatives including the full integration of a Co-Sign radio system and the development of an urban traffic control system.