One of Europe’s largest utilities operators is now able to centrally monitor and control vital security and safety systems including crewed facilities, uncrewed sub-stations, and Category 5 sites critical to national infrastructure.

Responsible for underpinning a nation’s electricity and gas supply infrastructure, this utilities business sought a reliable and robust mechanism to up-scale the reach and capability of its Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) – the heart of its safety and security operations.

The organisation realised it would require a sophisticated and scalable command and control platform to enable centralised monitoring and management of systems protecting its vast network of sites and assets. This needed to integrate and interoperate with a wide mix of third-party technologies and devices (existing and planned) deployed across its numerous and varied operational locations. The Synergy solution from Synectics provided the perfect answer.

“For a project of this scale, delivering heightened situational awareness through systems integration is essential. However, just as important is the understanding of business priorities, which has enabled us to ensure that ARC operators have the processes in place to protect such a vast number of sites.”
Brett Longley, Technical Sales Manager, Synectics

Combining data for a comprehensive view

Tailored to meet the customer’s exact needs, the solution integrates data inputs from a multitude of site-based systems such as emergency alarms, sensors, analytics, perimeter detection, audio call points, and access control. Pairing this data with GIS mapping and video footage from COEX specialist camera stations and third-party cameras gives ARC operatives a real-time, geographically accurate view of any anomalous event detected, and the immediate ability to investigate the situation visually through automated camera prioritisation.

Rapid action, reliably and securely logged

Interoperable control via the Synergy solution enables ARC-based operators to take rapid action in response to unfolding events or incidents. This allows them to cut power, change the voltage to perimeter fences, unlock areas to aid rapid evacuation, lockdown zones to prevent intrusion or control lighting, for example. Audio point systems also enable staff in the control centre to speak directly with colleagues at the site.

Any data received or actioned – either through automation or manual input – is securely logged for an authenticated audit trail in line with industry regulations. The incident locker ensures that all footage, data, and metadata associated with incidents are captured, encrypted, and securely stored should it be needed.

Smart recording and storage

Given the scale and geographic spread of the sites covered, network and bandwidth capacities were a key consideration. Synectics configured the solution to adapt to changing priorities, incorporating smart recording and data streaming to minimise network and bandwidth load.

At the source, all video is recorded at a high-quality frame rate and then scaled down for satellite transmission to the ARC. However, if an event or alarm is detected, the system automatically reverts to the superior frame rate to enable real-time footage review.

Decision-making made easy

Following detailed consultations with the customer, as well as the ARC operators who would be using the platform every day, Synectics also tailored the solution to support protocol enforcement and consistent decision-making.

This was achieved by creating a database of rules for specific incidents in line with the customer’s standard operating procedures. With this database established, dynamic workflows were created to guide the ARC operators through the most appropriate next steps for any given scenario. The workflows, triggered automatically when specific alarm and operator input criteria are met, ensure both rapid and consistent incident response – crucial for high-security sites.

Data redundancy eliminating critical risk

The Synectics solution also reflects the need to eliminate the potential for data loss or downtime. Multiple redundancy levels have been built to remove any single point of failure, including hot-swap technology, backfilling capabilities, and a ‘backup ARC’ with full data replication.

Synectics is working closely with the organization’s in-house team to roll out the solution to 60 sites by the end of 2021.