Revenue generation for the public sector control room is always a hot topic but never more so than at the moment with threats of serious budget pressure.
This has meant for some control rooms a re-examination of their purpose and the scope of their activities.
While a number of town centre CCTV monitoring schemes have in the past sought to avoid going outside their core surveillance brief, there is a growing long term trend now, for revenue generation and maximum value leverage, toward the integrated monitoring centre.
It is not uncommon to find local authorities offering a comprehensive range of security and out of hours’ services within their facilities, putting their activities at the centre of the organisation. While this isn’t a guarantee of future prosperity, it does enhance the control room’s contribution at the same time as keeping revenue inhouse.
A further important consideration is that by doing so, the authority retains control over the types of security systems, technology and service contracts used, and helps avoid being propelled down the proprietary product route. Not so much “arms length” as “hands on”.
Inevitably, a variety of disparate monitoring and control systems will be in use within the typical control room.
However software development technologies and co-operation between manufacturers has meant that it is now possible to pull together most security applications into a single management platform.
The benefits of using such a system are obvious, providing a common operator interface, universal reporting across all systems and, perhaps most importantly in the current climate, delivering optimal efficiency.
Bold Communications is a well known name among those providing open platform integrated security management systems.
As it approaches its 30th birthday, the Company has, for most of that time, been a principal UK provider of monitoring solutions supporting a wide range of commercial and public sector central stations.
A Bold customer for the last 8 years, The Safer Runnymede Control Centre recently upgraded its monitoring software to the new Bold Gemini solution.
Runnymede won the Public Sector Security Award in April 2009 for significantly reducing the number of burglaries, auto theft, damage and personal attacks.
This is managed at their multi-function room, which in addition to CCTV monitoring, deals with care-line calls and is a fully equipped alarm-receiving centre.
With a well established relationship with local Police, Runnymede can provide an effective alarm response.
The functional specification for the Gemini software was led by the requirements of Bold’s group of central station customers, including many council control rooms.
As this is such a diverse group, the result was a very comprehensive system design which then had to be developed into a live product with multiple communication methods and many different alarm signalling protocols.
But what made Gemini different is the integration to other security technologies.
For example CCTV monitoring software, access control and lone worker systems, were designed in at the planning stage and not added as an afterthought.
The result of this is the sheer useability of the product and it was this that persuaded Runnymede to choose Gemini.
An essential part of the innovative approach is the use of dynamic reporting allowing instant access to the SQL database to obtain management information according to a schedule or on an “as required” basis.
Setting up new monitored sites and administration is vastly simplified and configurations are created which specifically match the user’s needs.
With a familiar Window’s™ interface following Microsoft’s™ Fluent User conventions, Gemini can be quickly mastered by control room operators.
Gemini also offers a sophisticated web access administration and reporting module, and a SMS receiver, used by Runnymede for communicating directly with the public by text messaging.
Many integrated projects now also require customisation which is handled by Bold’s UK development team.
The project for Runnymede was co-ordinated with a Bold project consultant attending pre-install meetings with contractors and other involved parties to ensure the end result was in line with the client’s requirements.
Operator and administration training was provided to ensure that the maximum benefit was obtained from the system and out of hours support made available as required.
Having now fully implemented Gemini, Runnymede is able to monitor all current alarm panel types and will be able to accommodate new technology as it becomes available in the security market.
Brian Kelly, MD at Bold comments, ‘At the moment Runnymede monitor fire, intruder and panic alarms for all their council properties – as part of their programme of partnership working.
Their requirement to monitor a number of alarm types via a range of transmission methods fits with the Gemini open platform integration approach and we have been pleased to provide a system configuration which ideally matches their present and future needs.”
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