Prepared to Respond at OldhamOctober 2011
Situated against the picturesque backdrop of the South Pennines, Oldham Council's remit extends across a mix of urban and rural areas. While this rustic scenery is a source of pleasure for most of the time, the weather can turn severe with floods and heavy snow on occasions. In addition, the town itself has not been immune from some of the social issues associated with many post-industrial areas.
As part of the Council's strategy to create a timely response to these and other challenges, investment has been made in a new state-of-the-art Emergency Management Centre (EMC). Central to this strategy is supporting the community in the face of a range of natural and man made risk factors. However, the Oldham EMC is not just for crisis handling. It also carries out a range of routine but essential tasks such as providing a 24 hour contact point for the authority and public space CCTV monitoring.
The EMC provides high quality local security monitoring services, with a Mobile Response Team and a close relationship with Greater Manchester Police. Another essential part of the alarm and CCTV monitoring operation is the Bold Gemini security management solution. A wide range of alarms from council property are handled on the system selected for its capability to support so many different types of security products.
In common with many such organisations, security system deployment has evolved over many years to embrace a combination of legacy and new security technology. In addition, there is an obligation to leverage the EMC's resources to deliver as much value for the local community as possible. However, one of the key issues is pulling together multiple systems and technologies into one management platform which can support different generations of security product.
Despite the increasing popularity of IP for new alarm and video solutions, the existing installed base remains predominantly analogue. Users now expect that any technically advanced monitoring solution will provide flexible and efficient workflow processes; what can be more challenging is the ability to integrate across different communications technologies and provide tools to enables the control room to respond quickly and effectively to events.
Gemini is a customer-centered solution designed around the need to manage information and events intelligently and efficiently, regardless of how they are communicated. The process for managing both incoming signals and outgoing commands are handled within the customer record, linking to and easily making available all relevant situational data.
This means that operators can access all the information and processes needed, when they need it, without suffering overload. The system's modular design means that it evolves as the requirements of the monitoring operation evolve and develop.
The functional specification for the Gemini software has been led by a diverse group of users including commercial BS:5979 Cat II alarm receiving centres and specialised public sector and inhouse monitoring operations. The system capability is as diverse as the users who inspired it.
All industry standard alarm signalling protocols and many CCTV monitoring products and lone worker monitoring solutions are supported. What makes Gemini distinctive is that cross product integration capability was considered at the product's design stage rather than as an afterthought, resulting in a compelling solution for the Oldham EMC.
A further major benefit of Bold's 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 "ad hoc" 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 is quickly mastered by control room operators.
The Oldham project was co-ordinated with a Bold technical project consultant to ensure the end result was in line with the client's requirements. Maximum benefit was obtained from the system by onsite operator and administration training and a 24/7 helpline. Oldham now has the capability to monitor all alarm panel types and remote event activated CCTV including Dedicated Micros and Adpro FastTrace.
At the control room, Martyn Scholes, Business Development Manager at Oldham Council, explained the thinking behind the multi-functional control room, "The Emergency Management Centre is a vital part of our drive to protect public safety and assets in the unfortunate event of natural or manmade emergencies, working in partnership with the emergency services and of course the public. For security monitoring, this includes taking care of local schools and other civic property. Taking on responsibility for such a wide range of services not only enhances the value of the EMC to the local community, but also embeds its activities into mainstream council services rather than simply being just another Public Space CCTV monitoring control room.
This has been a successful project because of careful planning and selecting the right solutions for the facility. We found that Bold Gemini fitted well with our strategic approach of making all the required information relating to an event available and simple for the operator to access, with an intuitive interface and situational structure. Gemini provides a level of refinement and useability which the operators appreciate."
While there is constant stream of innovation in the security industry and new opportunities to rationalise costs and improve service levels, there aren't always easy ways of exploiting these opportunities and retain existing investment. With solutions like Bold Gemini, it is now possible to effectively manage existing and legacy systems at the same time as taking advantage of new technologies as they become available; Oldham Council is fully availing itself of this approach.