An old unused kitchen in the basement of the Council House is being transformed into a base for the city’s new CCTV control centre.
Contractors Ryearch have been on site for several weeks and have already completed much of the shell of rooms that will soon have a CSI-style bank of CCTV screens, together with servers and facilities for the team.
A separate corridor is being created to make a new entrance from the car park to the facility and outside trenches are being dug for the fibre optic cables that will link the network of cameras.
The scheme is not just about kitting out new premises, the system is being modernised and upgraded.
Project Manager Jamie Thompson said: “It’s an incredibly complex project. This is not just about moving some kit to a new location.
“We are using the move to completely update our systems and make sure different camera networks talk to each other with the new technology at the new site. At the moment there are two distinct sets of cameras – the CCTV and those that belong to the Traffic Control Unit. Under the new system the different teams will be able to share infrastructure, which not only makes financial sense but offers increased visibility within the city.”
There are over 300 cameras across the city, including those in parks, at Chelson Meadow, the Park and Ride sites, St Budeaux Square, as well as the city centre.
A bank of screens will be installed which will enable staff to view images from these cameras. The new technology will mean they will be able to call up images from many cameras at once if there is an incident – as well as instantly playback events – something staff are not able to do at the moment.
The Traffic Control Unit, which currently has fewer cameras, but can change traffic light sequences, will also have equipment in the new control room, and will be able to monitor traffic better as staff will access a wider number of cameras. As well as monitoring public safety and general surveillance, the system is linked to the city’s pubs, clubs and shops radios.
The new control room will have more responsive technology, capacity to link with other external alarm systems; increased CCTV visibility, a break-out space for staff, additional services to partners, a purpose built workshop and presentation/monitoring room.
The project work is being overseen by the Council’s Transformation Programme which is responsible for moving staff out of the Civic Centre in the Autumn, ahead of its redevelopment by Urban Splash. At the same time, work is being carried out to separate the utilities, and IT networks, so that the Council House operates as a separate entity from the rest of the Civic Centre.
Old oil-fired boilers in the Guildhall are also being replaced with gas boilers, which will also heat the Council House.
Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet Member for Finance said: “This is a complex project as it involves a number of strands of work, which are all connected and taking place at the same time.
“Once complete, the new CCTV control centre will have updated technology that will help keep our residents safe and help separate teams and organisations to work more closely. This is how we keep our city safe.”
The CCTV facilities will be moved from its current location in Mayflower Car Park which will be demolished to make way for the new coach station.
The outdated Bretonside bus station is to be redeveloped by British Land, the owner of Drake Circus and will be home to a new leisure development including a cinema complex, 13 restaurants and parking for over 400 cars, as well as extensive improvements to public areas