CLEAR SIGHT CITY SURVEILLANCE
TCA, security provider to North Lanarkshire District Council, implements Panasonic CCTV across the borough’s urban spaces
The result has been impressive. The council has seen a reduction in the number of criminal and anti-social incidents within the residential blocks, the cameras have contributed greatly to this. The people living in the blocks feel safer as a result.
How to maintain fully city surveillance visibility even in challenging winter conditions, notorious for causing condensation and water spots
Panasonic’s maintenance busting range of CCTV cameras is equipped with Clear Sight coating and dehumidification technology to ensure full visibility
The Scottish winter can be a challenge for any technology. But, for CCTV surveillance systems, which are expected to provide the images that keep our streets safe, it can be especially difficult.
Securing the streets of North Lanarkshire is the task of TCA. TCA is an Arms Length External Organisation (ALEO) of North Lanarkshire Council, a limited company with responsibility for providing shopmobility solutions for those with short or long term mobility issues, promotion of urban regeneration and security for the Council and for other, mainly public sector, organisations in and around Lanarkshire.
Over two years, TCA has rolled out around 300 Panasonic CCTV cameras across North Lanarkshire, mainly within 27 high rise blocks, but increasingly these are being selected for use in town centres.
Each tower block is monitored externally by two PTZ domes, four static cameras in the entry vestibules and a dome in each of the two lifts. In addition, there is a 2-way audio link in each of the lifts.
“Some of the local authority housing had gained a reputation locally for crime and anti-social behaviour and, as such, the Council wanted to address these issues through deployment of CCTV and other measures,” said Graeme Good, Business Manager at TCA.
“We consulted with our integrator Scotshield Fire & Security, which suggested that we trial the Panasonic dome cameras, with a view to installing both internally within the lifts and entrances to the blocks and externally on the blocks themselves.”
"The result has been impressive. The council has seen a reduction in the number of criminal and anti-social incidents within the residential blocks, the cameras have contributed greatly to this. The people living in the blocks feel safer as a result."
Tried and Tested
The performance of the cameras in the tower blocks persuaded TCA to look at utilising them within town centres too.
“We had mainly box style cameras previously, which caused a number of issues. It was more obvious where they were pointing, they tend to be noisy and, as they become more obsolete, the parts are increasingly expensive,” adds Graeme Good.
“So we decided to install Panasonic dome style cameras instead. The difference in image between the old SD and the new Full HD cameras is phenomenal. We are now in a position that we can retrospectively identify things.
“A camera in the Motherwell area has on several occassions been used to catch vehicles that were used in some pretty serious crime. The quality of the footage and the evidence packs that we are giving the police is exactly what they are looking for.”
Weather proofed operation
ClearSight Coating is an invisible protective layer that allows water to sheet over the surface of the dome rather than form droplets on the camera cover. Equipped with self-cleaning functionality, it uses rain water to wash dirt away effortlessly.
The TCA monitoring and control centre at Coatbridge
Panasonic System Solutions provide city surveillance within North Lanarkshire
“On many models, when the rain stops, you tend to get a coating of dust on the dome, which the camera then focuses on,” says Nikola Graham, Operations Manager. “We just haven’t seen that with the Panasonic cameras. In fact, we have actually halved the number of maintenance visits, which we think probably equates to a £50,000 annual saving.
“We tried other models in the past without the same level of success. Often, especially when we lost power to the units, we’d see a build up of condensation. Again, not with the Panasonic cameras.
“It is difficult to quantify how valuable this weather proofed technology is. Contractually, we are committed to providing coverage across the authority area. Water marks, dust build up and condensation would mean we couldn’t provide the level of coverage we are contracted to. It’s not a good excuse for not getting a vital piece of evidence, or missing a vulnerable person leaving the high rise. Somebody would certainly bring us to account and ask us why we’ve not done something about it.”
In total, 875 cameras are monitored round the clock, while a further 300 cameras are linked in and monitored out of hours,
if an alarm is triggered. Utilising tours and salvos, the control room in Coatbridge has eyes trained on 21 Full HD monitors.
Various triggers, such as alarms within the lifts, will show as priorities for the operators.
Relieving exam stress
The cameras installed within the tower block lifts allow TCA to proactively manage any potential problems with faulty lifts.
The 2-way audio and Full HD cameras mean it’s possible for operators at the TCA control centre to talk to anyone stuck in the lift and raise the alarm with lift engineers. Since installation, the average time to have an engineer on site is now between 20 and 30 minutes.
Nikola Graham, Operations Manager at TCA, said, “People always have this perception that big brother is watching you. But the feedback from the estate officers and from resident forums is very positive.
“One morning we had a girl stuck in the lift. It turned out she was on her way to an exam and was obviously upset that she’d be penalised for arriving late.
“We took some details and reported the incident to her school, which allowed her to enter the exam slightly late.”
“In addition, quite often there are a lot of false alarms. So we can quickly ascertain if the situation requires further attention.”
Protecting vulnerable people
TCA sees part of its role as being responsible for protecting vulnerable residents, using the cameras on several occasions to notify authorities if vulnerable people are seen leaving the high rise towers unaccompanied or at unusual times of day.
“We were alerted by police of an elderly lady, who had been classified as a missing person, getting on a bus in Glasgow,” says Graeme Good. “One of our operators using knowledge of the expected route was able to identify the lady sitting on the front seat of a moving bus as it travelled through Wishaw town centre. It meant we could inform the authorities and get her picked up at the next stop.”
“It’s great credit to our integration partners that some of the cameras we monitor are 16 years old,” adds Graeme Good. “Every time we have a fault we will appraise whether it’s cost effective to repair the unit. If not, we’ll continue with the roll out of Panasonic, which have been virtually faultless thus far.”