Tellemachus provides Cumbria with efficient surveillance system
Cumbria, the second largest county in England, encompasses some of the most rural and remote areas in the country, with its population dispersed throughout the county.
Supporting town centre management and law enforcement, up until 2012, a total of six independent CCTV systems were in operation across Cumbria, operated independently by six district councils. At the time, it was acknowledged by Richard Rhodes, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) that they were out-of-date, expensive to run and based on analogue technology. Added to this, there were funding shortfalls facing the various district councils who struggled to find the finances to run their stand-alone systems. The implication being that without action taken, by the end of 2013, there wouldn’t have been any operational CCTV cameras left in the county!
Considering the problem and in an effort to develop a sustainable and effective CCTV system that would help protect communities across the breadth of Cumbria, the PCC launched a countywide CCTV project, commissioned in conjunction with Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow district councils and implemented by Cumbria Constabulary.
To start the ball rolling, the PCC, Local Authorities and Cumbria Constabulary worked with a consultant to write a business case for the requirements of the new system. In essence, the system would need to provide greater all-round efficiency of operation.
To meet its goals, the new system would need to tackle an upgrade in the quality of the existing cameras, link the cameras within the towns of Carlisle, Barrow, Workington, Kendal, Whitehaven and Penrith together and link those six towns to a central location with long distance video and control transmission system. In addition, the system needed to meet a number of financial and technical challenges, these being:
- Be financially viable within CAPEX budget & with minimal ongoing yearly expenditure
- Cover geographically diverse locations
- Provide high-grade image quality to meet the latest Home Office CAST guidelines
- Provide a minimum of 30 day recording via expandable NVR technology
- Allow full control, management and audit of all operator functions
- Enable integration, monitoring and control via any Police Force PC or designated mobile device
- To include an ‘Evidence Store’ for Criminal Justice System
- 7 control rooms consolidated in to just one, with additional monitoring resilience from 4 other CCTV terminals located in area police stations
- Full system subject to external IT penetration testing
With the aims of the new scheme defined, the project was put out to tender under OJEU legislation, with a large number of companies tendering via the European standard process. Leading their reply to tender with a proposal that detailed a joined-up physical security, communications and IT system that would yield superior surveillance system performance, along with greater efficiencies and operational cost-reduction, Systems Integrator Tellemachus was awarded the contract to supply the new scheme. Their selection was sited as being due to the company’s response being the most compliant to the specification issued, allied to being highly cost-effective.
The £2.5m contract awarded covers the installation and 7 years managed service level agreement (SLA), to which Tellemachus is solely responsible to maintain the entire system and in every circumstance.
Reducing ongoing revenue charges, Tellemachus used their wireless & IP knowledge to build a new supporting infrastructure based on best of breed IT equipment, replacing the existing and costly cable based transmission infrastructure with a high-speed wireless network.
A full wireless spectrum analysis of the six towns was undertaken and a mixture of licensed and un-licensed wireless equipment was specified and installed, requiring three different manufacturers’ equipment to be fully integrated. The new cameras not only provide highly detailed colour images in very low light conditions, but have been added to the system and sited in intelligent locations using valuable police data on crime hot spot areas. A valid reason for each new camera location provides effective surveillance on typical town centre issues, such as anti-social, drunken or disorderly behaviour, or organised criminal activity.
The system’s benefits encompass:
- Exceptional image quality from the HD cameras (even in low light) giving the
required identification and recognition capabilities
- Six towns are now cost-effectively monitored from one remote central location
- Secure Wireless & IT infrastructure maintained with minimal ongoing revenue
- Live & recorded images and designated evidence archives accessed directly by
relevant police teams from remote locations
- Remote central monitoring of all equipment enables proactive maintenance and remote fault rectification
- A reduction of onsite maintenance requirements/costs
- Ability to view video whilst on the move, via smartphone and tablets
- Fully scalable to meet future needs
- User-friendly and intuitive software reduces training time
Covering six towns, Cumbria now operates a CCTV scheme that can provide reactive and proactive support to incidents with a single control room. Providing high-quality video, the new system provides situational awareness, detection and evidential video for prosecution use, initially using 53 cameras across the county. To maximise incident support, the system is pro-actively and reactively monitored by a Dedicated Monitoring Unit in liaison with other Communications Centre staff, located within the Communications Centre at Police HQ, Penrith.
Advanced integration provides the key
With no compromise to the physical security of the system, Tellemachus monitor the IT, communications, and security installation network infrastructure and connected devices for integrity & performance 24/7. Enhanced system operation is assured with the ability to remotely diagnose any occurring issues and rectify them remotely wherever possible. If a problem does occur that is not remotely repairable, then the remote diagnostic capability allows Tellemachus to diagnose the issue and dispatch an engineer to site armed with the right parts to fix the problem in one visit, saving on system component downtime.
Caroline Leonard, CCTV Manager, Cumbria Constabulary said:
“Since the new system went live, we have been conducting performance monitoring on a monthly and quarterly basis, to produce quantative and qualitive data and to give us management information on the systems contribution to prosecutions and resolution of incidents.
“The new centralised IT infrastructure allows us much better access to CCTV footage than was previously possible. We can now access video footage via the Tellemachus Digital Evidence Management System instantly, either centrally or from the dedicated CCTV machines co-located in Custody stations. The system handles all video, audio and multi-media storage, to provide a single repository of information, essential to supporting the evidential information gathering process.
“The benefit of instant access to video is that unlike with the previous system, we no longer need to burn evidence to a DVD initially as the migration to a central Evidence Store allows authorised users to access the evidence from many locations. Police officers no longer need to travel to an outlying district to retrieve video evidence, it’s now available at their fingertips. This process saves valuable handling time, resource and money, meaning the system allows staff to do more. The HD quality of the video and quality of zoom capability are a tremendous aid to ID people and car license plates.
“From the control room, we can share video information directly with the police patrols, which is a far superior situation than just relying on voice communications when it comes to identifying suspects.”
The new system meets the guidelines set by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter, including the provision of restricted ‘privacy’ zones and high image quality. Mick Kelly, Head of Communications for the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, said:
“The new Cumbria system has passed Step 1 Self Assessment for certification to Compliance to the CCTV Code of Practice. It’s clear that Cumbria Constabulary are meeting the standards for ensuring operational transparency and how the system is used to protect people.”
As experts in the field of physical, IT, security and communications systems design and integration, Tellemachus have delivered a joined-up single solution into a corporate environment. They have provided the expertise to integrate the police force infrastructure into a new unique and secure dedicated IT network, which is greatly more cost and performance effective vs. traditional BT Redcare links. The complete system has been subject to detailed User Acceptance Testing and external IT ‘CHECK’ and penetration testing, to ensure full IT system security and integrity.
The quality of video footage and the ability to instantly access it from key locations can greatly shorten the investigation and judicial process, where arrested suspects may plead guilty when being confronted with the video evidence. Juries and magistrates can also see the powerful evidence for themselves too, enabling easy identification of an accused. This reduces the judicial process time and incurred court costs for all parties involved in the criminal justice system.
Chief Inspector Kevin Spedding, Police Project Executive, said:
“CCTV is a very important tool we can use to help solve crime and keep our local communities safe. The new system provides consistent and improved CCTV coverage across Cumbria. We know CCTV acts as a deterrent for would-be criminals, it helps track offenders and gather intelligence led overt and covert evidence., It’s not just a great aid for counter crime applications, the visual information we see can also be used to assist other emergency services, where perhaps we may identify the need to attend an injured person, or to detect the whereabouts of a missing person.
“The joint working of all parties involved with the new Cumbria system shows how public sector organisations can work together to provide a framework for CCTV that protects the community, whilst maintaining their right to privacy, as well as providing value for money. In the future, if and when required, government matched funding with PCC and district councils will allow camera expansion to other locations and the system has been designed to enable this.”