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Street Wise in Bexleyheath

11 November 2010

Siemens designed and equiped Dubai's security centre

Thinking differently about how to maintain, update, finance and staff community security services is now a necessity as Jane Fenwick found in the London Borough of Bexley.

THE LONDON BOROUGH OF BEXLEY has looked closely at its community safety unit that monitored its CCTV camera system from the Town Hall in Bexleyheath. Its central location and in house service ethos was thought to be key to the continuation of this vital service. But, following a radical rethink earlier this year Bexley became the first local authority in the UK to adopt a new outsourced model for its CCTV system and security monitoring staff, under a contract arrangement that enables other organisations to share the facility and generate income for the Council.
Two years ago, the London Borough of Bexley considered re-developing its Town Hall site with a private developer. The relocation of the community safety unit’s CCTV control centre came under scrutiny. The state-of-the-art control room installed in 1996 in the Town Hall with analogue equipment was outdated and needed to be replaced with the latest digital technology.
As Maureen Holkham, deputy director for Neighbourhoods and Communities explained, Councillors and officials considered a number of options. They could retain the service and the risk in house but, as she explained, they did not have sufficient technical expertise to do so.  Alternatively they could join forces with a neighbouring Borough or outsource the service to a technology provider. This latter option, she explained, was the most attractive and following an OJU tendering process, Siemens was chosen to design, build, staff, manage and operate a comprehensive outsourced CCTV service for Bexley for the next 10 years. (See below for news of Siemens Siveillence portfolio launched in the UK last month)
The London Borough of Bexley is the fifth lowest crime area in London but, with an large elderly population, the fear of crime is high. As Holkham explained, the Borough’s ratepayers welcome the street cameras and have confidence in the service that gave them protection while they were out and about in the town centre. As a valued service, the decision to outsource the service was a bold one and not without its critics in the Council.
Under the deal, Siemens made a capital investment of about £1m in a new monitoring facility in an underused Council building a few minutes drive from the town centre. The annual cost to the Council for delivery of the comprehensive CCTV service of £680,000 a year is comparable to its current expenditure on this service. This cost will remain static for the term of the contract. The Council now has financial certainty through fixed costs, simpler budgeting, savings in procurement and technical upgrades throughout the term of the contract, ensuring that never again will its system be outdated and not be at the forefront of the technology available.
Another unique and forward thinking feature of the deal is that the community safety centre has been built big enough monitor additional systems across the Borough in line with Total Place thinking that seeks to bring services together within local authorities, and even offer the services outside the Borough. Siemens is currently approaching housing associations, shopping centres, leisure facilities and commercial organisations in the Borough or locally. They believe that there is good potential for gaining new clients and generating income to offset the costs both for Siemens, and for Bexley once a certain level of interest and income has been achieved.
Siemens fitted out the control room in a building which had previously served as family centre for problem families. It has been completely refurbished, entrance security improved and staff facilities provided for the first time for refreshment and screen breaks.
Compared to the previous Town Hall locations, the working conditions are light and airy. Staff were transferred under TUPE to Siemens staffing partner, Wilson James. A Siemens manager and former member of the Met Police is now actively seeking and integrating other clients who want to utilise Bexley’s state of the art facility and service.
The 24/7 CCTV surveillance continued without interruption during changeover to the new facility.
During the day and on Friday and Saturday nights, there are two operators and a supervisor in the the control room. This reduces to just one on weekday nights. They monitor the extensive network of Bexley’s cameras which also link into the local Pub Watch and a Taxi watch systems. As the number of clients and cameras to monitor grows, the team will be strengthened and bank of digial monitors extended. Alternatively, additional and separate monitoring centres can be built on the second floor of the building.
The modern digital technology is a great advance on the old system. Not only are the screens much clearer for the operators to see and less tiring to watch, the bank of four large LCD panels can each be divided into four parts, and then into four again as required. The two opertors can change the configuration at will and zoom in on selected views for closer monitoring on their desktop array of three screens. They are also in direct contact with the police and can follow incidents as they unfold. Primarily they monitor any suspicious behaviour, identify incidents and co-ordinate appropriate responses from the police, fire and ambulance services.
There is a separate room where the police can review incidents for evidential and collect evidence without interrupting the staff as they monitor current incidents. Siemens expects that this outsourcing model developed and implemented successfully at the London Borough of Bexley will be a viable option in other local authorities also looking at how to provide their services, reduce their risk and limit their costs into the future.
Outsourcing community safety
? Council reduces risk of managing high technology service
? Higher level of delivery with redcued costs over the long term
? Built-in expansion capability
? Guaranteed 24/7/365 service
? Skilled operators
? Saving in staff numbers
? Fixed costs and easier budgeting
? Latest technology
? Fixed personnel costs
? Latest monitoring technology to improve efficiency
? Defined service level agreements to ensure performance and reliability
? Integrated crime management
? Liaison with emergency services
? Complete outsource solution
? Maintenance and repair of existing camera network
Siemens launches Siveillance
Siemens last month launched in the UK  Siveillance Command, Siveillance Vantage and Siveillance SiteIQ,  a portfolio of intelligent command and control security platforms. The new Siveillance range will not only act as a security platform but also manage every incident through to conclusion. Operators are automatically prompted to take the correct action and the software will automatically set in motion a sequence of pre-agreed activities to ensure the right procedures are adhered to, as well as distributing essential information across multi agencies.
The key features of the Siveillance command and control portfolio are the improved assessment, management and resolution of critical situations, the distribution of crucial data and the co-ordination of computer aided dispatch for essential services. In line with the need for both the public and private sectors to lower costs, these software platforms will enable improved operational performance, safer communities, safer business, improved shared services, greater efficiencies and cost reductions.
Siveillance portfolio includes:
Siveillance Command –Typical applications include police, fire and ambulance services.
Siveillance Vantage - for corporations and public agencies that need to deliver command and control across typically critical national infrastructure, corporate businesses, transportation networks, financial and commercial institutions, manufacturers and local authorities.
Siveillance SiteIQ –provides video-based automated wide area perimeter protection 24/7 with proactive object tracking, providing both real time and recorded video access, ideal for  ports and airports.

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