During the summer of 2020, the UK experienced a Government imposed “lock down” to protect the NHS from the ravages of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the City of Chelmsford and its surrounding parishes, initiated implementation of a different type of protection, a major upgrade of their security systems. Three months later, the city has an abundance of ‘state-of-the-art’ CCTV cameras now providing an invaluable safety functionality to its entire community.
Thanks to an intrinsic partnership with Link CCTV Systems, a long-established service provider, Chelmsford City Council has been able to accomplish a multi-functional, multi-faceted upgrade. A partnership stretching back some 25 years has seen successful security solutions identified and resolved, employing the latest and very best technology for the benefit of all the city’s citizens and the greater community at large. The city has grown significantly in recent years, and so has the requirement for enhanced security provision right across the catchment. Link CCTV Systems has been ‘ever-present’ in ensuring that the locality has been sufficiently protected.
Commensurate with the tender evaluation process, Link CCTV were invited to demonstrate their commitment to the benefits and principles of social value by evidencing activities within the local community. To this end, Link CCTV were happy to sponsor the local SOS community buses. Focussing on providing a safe haven, particularly in the midst of the night-time economy, the Essex-based charity buses offer help, advice and welfare provision to vulnerable individuals.
The most recent enhancement of the Chelmsford CCTV system commenced in April 2020, days after the Government implemented restrictions to suppress the growth of Covid-19 infections. 200 new, high-quality cameras were installed in strategic locations, including public parks, playing fields, community shopping centres, high streets, car parks and pedestrianised thoroughfares. This initiative alone increased the scope for security and safety surveillance by a factor of 20%, increasing the total camera count to over 500. Each camera in the city was upgraded to a High Definition (HD) variant, which is fed back to a central Video Management System (VMS). This vastly improved the quality of the pictures relayed back to the Control Room and assists the operators in navigating the platform with ease.
The Control Room itself, which was renovated during a previous Link CCTV upgrade, now hosts a number of 40” wall-mounted monitors which are overseen 24 hours a day throughout the year. The optical clarity of the monitors is not compromised when the footage is down-loaded. Notwithstanding Chelmsford’s renowned ‘Purple Flag’ safety status, the sharpness of the CCTV image quality has already proved both vital and significant in the provision of evidence for police investigations.
Maldon District Council is a neighbouring authority to Chelmsford. A request from Maldon to help facilitate an upgrade of their own system from analogue to High Definition was duly approved. Accommodating all the council’s properties, these too were seamlessly integrated into the Chelmsford system with round-the-clock sophisticated coverage.
The execution of Link CCTV’s detailed implementation plan allowed the installation to be completed within 3 months, a whole month ahead of schedule. This afforded effective security for Chelmsford and its surrounding areas much earlier than planned. The city’s modern surveillance system has established a future-proof and cost-effective solution that not only keeps them at the forefront of surveillance technology for years to come, but also enhances the safety of its 180,000 residents within the catchment.
“This project was of particular interest to Link CCTV Systems, having supplied, installed and maintained the City Centre CCTV systems of over 25 years,” said Ryan Mitchinson, Managing Director at Link CCTV Systems.
“In 2016, we installed a new FLIR VMS to manage the main city centre cameras’ and began the process of migrating all of the remote Parish Council and other public building systems across to the new platform. This phased migration was accomplished by 2018 after introducing 25 new servers across the city.”
“Whilst some of these upgrades included the replacement of their analogue camera modules, many continued to operate their original legacy analogue units.”
When discussing the latest upgrade to Chelmsford City Council’s security systems, Ryan added: “During the latest phase of works, all of the city’s cameras were upgraded to HD whilst also introducing multiple new sites and High Street systems. It gave me great satisfaction to witness the final remote systems being connected to the main Chelmsford VMS, allowing the total CCTV camera count to exceed 500 units, all virtually mapped to allow every operator to easily navigate the platform.”
The new technological improvements have not gone unnoticed by the on-site security team either. A conversation with some of the security operatives soon revealed their satisfaction.
“The improved quality of the cameras has helped us and the Essex Constabulary in supplying clear footage and compelling evidence for prosecutions”, said Nicholas Hunt, CCTV Supervisor at Chelmsford City Council.
Nicholas goes on: “Having such good camera quality, especially when the light is low, has helped us capture evidence of offences.”
Spencer Clarke, the Public Protection Manager at Chelmsford City Council, was asked how the install has assisted with capturing events: “The improvement in image quality has enabled us to pick up car index plates with relative ease”
Regarding the upgrade, Spencer revealed; “Having everything on one VMS platform and having consistent quality throughout is a really great asset.”
Spencer continued, expressing his delight and satisfaction with the work undertaken by Link CCTV Systems: “In terms of project management, from a client’s perspective, Link CCTV have been a real pleasure to work with. They have been reliable, customer focussed, and outcome focussed. The Install Team were a great bunch who portrayed a real sense of camaraderie. Ongoing support has been first class. With such a big install, there are always going to be some blips, but these were always resolved promptly and efficiently.”
May 14, 2021