Use Synergy's mapping features more effectively
The surveillance tools boosting security and efficiency at one of the UK’s largest retail environments.
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Welcoming over 30 million people through its doors each year, the Trafford Centre in Manchester is one of the UK's largest shopping and entertainment venues.
While each retailer has their own surveillance and security set-up, it is the task of Lee Barlow – Operations Manager for Security and Data – and his team to secure all public areas, from management space, service areas and car parks to the food hall and miles of walk space.
“This is a huge operation. Even with an 80-strong team working in shifts around the clock, there is a vast amount to monitor and manage. We need to be smart about our approach. And that includes being smart about the technologies we adopt to make our lives easier and our visitors safer.”
One of the most recent technologies Lee and his team adopted is a remote evidence-sharing solution from Synectics.
The technology allows surveillance operators based in the Trafford Centre’s control room to share evidential footage held in a dedicated locker quickly and securely via a web link to authorised external stakeholders, including Greater Manchester Police, Metropolitan Police and insurance agents.
“It’s a huge advantage for time-sensitive incident investigation, but also regarding resource and cost. Currently, we share footage linked to around three or four incidents daily. It is shared instantly, securely and encrypted with all the necessary evidence certifications included."
“Previously, we would have had to save footage to disks or USB drives and physically mail these out to the respective contacts. A much slower and weaker evidence chain. Not to mention a costly exercise when you factor in postage for fast, secure delivery.”
Using their Synergy security and surveillance platform, the Trafford Centre team monitor and manage footage from around 700 Synectics cameras spanning the building itself and surrounding parking zones – an estate well over 2 million square feet in size.
Being able to quickly pinpoint the location of an incident and access corresponding location data that may add context to response – for instance, nearby facilities, exit points and proximity of potential support teams – is invaluable to Lee and his team.
“We used to rely on standard image mapping”, says Lee, “but we wanted to take advantage of Synergy’s latest capabilities, which allow us to pair geospatial (open) mapping and locally hosted CAD maps of the site. The difference is night and day in terms of the detail available and how easy it is to zoom in to investigate each event.
“We can also add icons, features and any other details that might be useful, as well as create macros that help us take specific actions at the click of a button. It’s very intuitive and informative, which is extremely useful when you have such a vast estate to monitor.”
With such high visitor numbers, public privacy is a key priority for the Trafford Centre. Here, Lee and his team make use of dedicated functionality in their surveillance solution to help them manage sensitive data appropriately.
From automating footage deletion in the evidence locker after a set period in compliance with GDPR, to digital masking of people and areas, Synergy supports and simplifies privacy protocols in many ways.
“We’re very aware of our responsibilities in this area”, comments Lee. “For example, our location means we back onto an Asda superstore and other Trafford Park facilities. Cameras on our roof monitoring outdoor areas of our estate pick up these locations, so we always ensure we mask those zones on screen.
“With Synergy, we also have the reassurance of knowing every operator action is logged, a valuable resource in responding to data privacy queries.”
While all of these specific areas of functionality have helped the Trafford Centre in its mission to protect the public and facilities across the estate, for Lee, the biggest benefit of all is knowing he can rely on Synergy to deliver.
He concluded: “With Synergy, I have no headaches. Because I know everything works. I know we’ll always have footage availability – and if anything happens, we have an incredibly robust failover server. I know that the Synectics cameras give us the crystal-clear view we need daily, and that we have a system that will easily allow us to grow and adapt. From adding new cameras to making use of edge-based analytics in the future. There’s much to be said for having this kind of reliability at your fingertips.”
Share evidence securely with the police, emergency services, internal teams, and third parties.
The Cloud Evidence Locker is natively supported in Synergy, enabling seamless upload and secure sharing of incident footage.