London West End CCTV – The Real London Eye
AMG Systems was asked to design and install a fibre optic transmission backbone to support a CCTV surveillance network. This would not only give first class, resilient coverage of the shopping heartland of Oxford Street and Regent Street but also extend to cover the tourist hotspots of Trafalgar Square and Hungerford Bridge.
Surveillance in the West End is not new. Westminster City Council (WCC) has been a driving force for public space monitoring in the fight against crime and disorder since the installation of London’s first CCTV system on Oxford Street in 1997. WCC worked closely with the Oxford Street Association to get this project off the ground, building a monitoring facility at Marylebone Police Station, and have since further developed the system. Working together with their CCTV Consultants, Aver Consulting Sola Consulting (ACSC), it was integrated into their own CCTV system based in the Trocadero Centre, Piccadilly.
“When the decision was made to consolidate CCTV resources in 2002, we once again nominated AMG to design the network and supply the transmission equipment, with ATEC Security looking after other aspects of the installation”, says Trevor Aver of ACSC. These schemes include Trafalgar Square, Belgravia, and the new Hungerford Bridge over the Thames. Together, they encompass an area of over 10 square miles, surveying landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. Six of London’s busiest tube stations also fall within the area.
“The all new West End Central Monitoring Station and Control Room in the Trocadero had already been created by WCC. However, the recently announced redevelopment of Marylebone Police Station would result in the closure of the second floor monitoring facility for Oxford Street. ACSC established a concept design with all the AMG transmission equipment moved to a secure location in the basement. We then asked AMG to undertake the important detailed design for a 5km fibre link and long distance transmission equipment to re-transmit all the video signals from the basement in Marylebone to the new centre in the Trocadero”, says Trevor.
Available in single or dual fibre variants, the AMG2000 is a highly cost effective solution for local area camera networks. Reliable and flexible, it transmits video, audio and data signals over multimode optical fibre for distances of up to 8km. “Single channel transmission is by far the most cost effective solution for Local Area Systems where all the cameras are within few kilometres of the control room”, comments Trevor. “An added bonus is that the AMG system is also very easy to install. The inclusion of auto gain control within the receivers gives the AMG2000 range a ‘Plug ‘n Play’ capability that we believe is unique in this field”.
A new matrix was installed in the Trocadero to integrate the entire system, which now consists of 115 cameras throughout central London with more planned. As a result, the Oxford Street cameras were upgraded, and the existing AMG2000 transmission equipment modified to operate with the new matrix.
Also incorporated into this new control room were video feeds from a 9 camera CCTV system monitoring the Hungerford Bridge installed by ATEC. The bridge forms a vital link in London’s train network, carrying every train arriving at or leaving from Charing Cross Station.
All the camera feeds presented to the video matrix are taken to an array of digital video recorders (DVRs) for archiving. This material is retained for 31 days and may be retrieved and viewed by control room operators during this period. This is a valuable weapon in the fight against crime and disorder in these very public spaces provided image quality is satisfactory. Because the AMG equipment transmits full bandwidth, uncompressed video over the network, WCC and other agencies can be assured of the highest quality video archive.
Security and Surveillance
Commenting on the scheme, Simon Adcock, Managing Director of ATEC said, “Westminster has seen enormous changes in its infrastructure. Our experience of working on this and other similar systems requiring high levels of system wide integration and control means that it is essential to employ the right mix of sophisticated CCTV integration skills coupled with a robust technical infrastructure.
AMG proved to be the right partner for this important metropolitan wide surveillance scheme. Similarly, there are new security considerations with heightened terrorist threats necessitating ever more sophisticated and reliable surveillance systems. The advanced capability of the AMG2000 Series allows Westminster to meet these needs and be sure that it can continue to keep its streets safe in the years to come”.
- AMG2000 used for both video collection from local cameras and as long distance transmitters between the new control centre and the existing infrastructure
- Digital video recording is provided for each camera
- No compression is used on the video feeds to ensure that latency is eliminated from the network and high quality signals are delivered to the DVRs and control room operators
- Control room can access in real time any camera
- System retains capacity for further expansion