The University of Portsmouth, based in Hampshire, was recently rated as the UK's 6th best modern University where more than 19,000 students undertake more than 500 different degree courses every year. The University is also one of the city's largest employers with over 3000 permanent and temporary staff.
The University wanted to improve the effectiveness of the existing security system which comprises over 350 CCTV cameras and DVR's installed across both campuses in addition to a wide range of different intruder and fire alarms of varying ages. The University were already in the process of migrating these away from standard copper cabling to IP using the University's existing IT network in order to achieve a higher level of functionality and reduce ongoing maintenance costs.
The University also wanted to achieve true integration with the CCTV network to ensure that the correct camera was enabled in the event of an activation to enable a faster and more effective response from the central control room where over thirty screens were deployed, each showing the status of a different system or CCTV images from around the campus.
Despite having all the different alarm systems installed in a central control room, the University felt this approach did not allow them to make best use of the technology, particularly as each system required its own dedicated screen for monitoring. They wanted to integrate all existing security systems to improve the management of the whole system and to enhance the level of protection provided to students around the clock.
The University looked to their existing security systems provider Network Security and Fire for advice on how they could implement the system they wanted into the University. Network Security and Fire took on the challenge of designing a unique solution and a manufacturer to assist in the provision of such a system; they found this in the innovative products developed by Initsys. After lengthy discussions regarding the project, Initsys were invited by Network Security and Fire and the University of Portsmouth to review the existing security set up and make recommendations as to what needed to be done to meet their objectives.
A detailed analysis of the existing security systems was carried out across both campuses and Initsys recommended the installation of Merlin, a new generation of Alarm Receiving Centre software. This powerful software-based solution would merge the functionality of existing intruder alarm and CCTV surveillance systems to provide an enhanced verification capability. Importantly, Merlin would be fully compatible with the university's existing analogue and digital CCTV cameras including the latest IP cameras enabling the operational capability of existing security networks to be enhanced without having to upgrade the whole system.
After reviewing the proposal, Network Security and Fire asked Initsys to install a pilot to prove the concept. This involved installing the Merlin system in the central control room and taking direct feeds from the CCTV cameras to provide real-time images. During the pilot, the decision was made that the Initsys solution would deliver the desired results and after further discussions with both Network Security and Fire and Initsys the University awarded them the contract to carry out the integration of all disparate systems.
The installation took place over a four-week period and was carried out in partnership with Network Security and Fire. The latest version of the Initsys Merlin ARC software was installed in the control room on a dedicated server and integrated with all the existing CCTV, intruder and fire alarm systems.
The Merlin system has also enabled the University of Portsmouth to enhance the effectiveness of the security guards that patrol both campuses. Images taken from the location where an alarm has been activated can now be transmitted directly to the mobile radios carried by guard patrols accompanied with additional messages giving more specific details of incidents that require rapid verification. The guards can receive additional images and information in real-time as incidents develop to ensure they can provide the most appropriate response.
Being compatible with both analogue and digital equipment, the Merlin system has enabled the University of Portsmouth to make significant savings by eliminating the need to immediately replace existing installed equipment. It has also reduced the amount of equipment installed in the control room which is leading to lower running costs. What is more, the enhanced security levels that can be achieved are expected to result in reduced insurance premiums.