Upgrading to a single, open-architecture command and control platform has allowed Bromley Council to benefit from a range of surveillance and security integrations that have led to improved incident detection and response times, and facilitated enhanced collaborative working capabilities with the police.

Bromley’s public protection priorities

With over 420,000 cameras, London is one of the most surveilled cities in the world. Keeping its residents safe and public areas secure is a daily challenge.

As London’s largest borough, with a population of nearly 330,000 people, it’s a challenge keenly felt by Bromley’s surveillance team. Here, tackling crime and anti-social behavior, and maintaining public safety, is an ever-growing task – one that requires the efficient and effective monitoring of large geographical areas.

Keen to increase public confidence in the safety of the borough, the Safer Bromley Partnership was set up in 1998 to ensure that public sector agencies, voluntary groups, and businesses work together with local communities to reduce crime and anti-social behavior, and to ensure safer, well-maintained public spaces.

The surveillance operation in Bromley – a key component of the Partnership – is comprised of hundreds of cameras placed at strategic locations across the borough including town centers, busy pedestrian areas, and other open spaces that experience anti-social behavior.

The surveillance system is monitored for the purposes of public safety – as well as crime detection and prevention – including detecting traffic offenses, such as illegal use of bus lanes.

Meeting evolving needs

Prior to upgrading to an open command and control platform, Bromley had two separate surveillance systems in place - one used for recording video footage from public-space cameras and the other for controlling the cameras throughout the borough.

In an effort to reduce crime in ‘hot spot’ areas and tackle the growing problem of fly-tipping – which was costing the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds each year – an increased number of mobile cameras had been deployed. These cameras were a much needed addition to the borough’s public safety and crime prevention toolkit, however are also an additional resource to manage.

The local authority needed a solution that would bring these separate, individually managed systems into a single, unified environment. An open, integrated command and control solution would enable operators to immediately react to incidents with responsive camera control, thereby improving detection and response time and maximizing operational efficiency.

William Ogg, CCTV Manager for the London Borough of Bromley, said: “From the control hub we monitor over 200 cameras – a mix of analog and IP – 24 hours a day. It’s a tough challenge, which means we are always looking at ways we can support the surveillance team and use our technology more efficiently and effectively. We knew that upgrading to an open-platform solution that could facilitate greater levels of integration with existing systems would be key to this.”

Adopting a unified approach

Implementing Synectics’ intuitive Synergy 3 command and control platform has brought the two surveillance systems together into a single monitoring and management environment, facilitating greater levels of integration, enhancing viewing and recording capabilities, aiding incident response, and ensuring future scalability.

Monitoring and managing mobile cameras is now a seamlessly integrated function with the implementation of Synergy 3. Operators at the control center are able to access and collate data from both permanent and temporary cameras, providing them with greater geographical coverage and situational awareness.

Importantly, the flexibility to quickly add and/or move mobile cameras between fly-tipping and anti-social behavior hot spots across the borough – without an impact on infrastructure and while maintaining command and control continuity – has provided the surveillance team with the flexibility to adapt to trends and proactively monitor issues.

Supporting a paperless audit process

The ability to combine, collate, and control data through a unified single platform, paired with Synergy 3’s integral reporting functionality, has transformed the Bromley control room into an entirely paperless operation. All activity is automatically logged in real time to create a secure and auditable record of incidents and actions.

Pinpointing problems with precision

The GIS mapping functionality within Synergy 3 has also helped to significantly reduce the time and effort necessary to pinpoint a particular location or person(s) of interest. Along with operational efficiencies and reduced detection/response times, this has paved the way for enhanced collaborative working between the control room and the police.

Operators at the control center are now able to locate and review incidents more quickly, which has already proven useful by preventing incidents from escalating and therefore saving police time. Using Synergy 3, the team can also now send video footage directly to the smart device of a police team on the ground, as well as provide them with detailed reports for incident types, trends, and locations, to assist with gathering evidence and resolving cases.

The improved system capabilities have led to a rise in the number of requests from the police for incident tracking, footage review, and evidential support.

“During a recent incident where four individuals were suspected of anti-social behavior, we were able to, upon request, directly stream the captured video to the police officer’s mobile device. Upon reviewing the footage, the officer was quickly able to identify the culprits and make the arrest. A case like this would have typically taken days – or even weeks – to review the footage and gather all the necessary evidence. Thanks to our upgrade to Synergy 3, it took less than an hour to resolve,”

William Ogg, CCTV Manager, London Borough of Bromley.