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Millennium Square covered

A case study of Millennium Square in Bristol city centre.

Millennium Square is beside the At-Bristol Science Centre. Features include an enormous LED wall and restaurants and bars by the harbourside.

Previously, surveillance for the square had been provided by a single PTZ camera, part of the At-Bristol centre CCTV system. John Whittaker, pictured, Security Team Manager for At-Bristol, says: “The @Bristol control room is windowless and the Panomera system is used daily by security staff to give us a live, virtual window on to Millennium Square. Previously the square was covered with a single PTZ which was generally left in a wide angle view to give us an overview of the area. The problem was this meant if we had to retrieve any evidence the recorded images needed to be digitally zoomed and would pixelate too much to be of any evidential value.”

At-Bristol sought a continuous overview of the square at highest detail resolution, cost-efficient and easy to operate. John Whittaker says: “Our experience with the PTZ camera was that the recordings taken from it are basically worthless for purposes of subsequent investigations due to the low resolution. One alternative would have been to install several HD cameras at various locations all over the square – but then the job of operating the cameras would become very complex for the security staff, and the infrastructure costs would be prohibitive.”

Bristol City Council on visiting a CCTV User Group conference learned about the Panomera multifocal sensor by Dallmeier. With the patented sensor concept of this new camera, it is possible to monitor large expanses from a single installation point, with high resolution and consistent depth of focus. And, the entire viewing area is recorded at all times, unlike PTZ cameras, which only record the area they are viewing. John Whittaker says: “The Panomera gives us the best of both worlds – the wide angle perspective plus the high quality detail at the furthest point.”

James Walker, Managing Director for Dallmeier UK, says: “We have been working with the city administrators in Bristol for several years now. The city already has many Dallmeier products in place, and this was one reason why they decided to test the MFS technology.” A suitable installation site was chosen for the Panomera in consultation with the CCTV installer Select Electric. A single Panomera camera with a 90 degree viewing angle is enough to monitor the whole of Millennium Square in the highest possible resolution.

The images from the IP camera are recorded at a rate of 12.5 frames per second (fps) on a Dallmeier video appliance. One workstation in the security office in the At-Bristol centre allows the recordings to be searched as well as live monitoring of the camera feed. A second workstation has been set up in the nearby council emergency control centre, where it is used daily by the CCTV operators to monitor the area.

John Whittaker says: “We know we are not missing anything now, because we can look for incidents in the recordings after the fact. Knowing the whole square is being recorded at high detail across the whole scene all the time also enables us to track offenders that have been reported by members of the public perhaps in other areas. The square is a main thoroughfare and this enables us to provide continuity on an offender’s direction – both where they are going and where they have come from.”

Installer view

Ray Murphy, Managing Director of Select Electric, says: “The images from the Panomera are reviewed and analysed not only by the security operators in the At-Bristol science centre, but also by the city council security personnel – entirely independently of each other.”

Unlike PTZ cameras, MFS allows multi-users; multiple operators can view the camera images at the same time and tilt or zoom as they wish – not only in the live images but also in the recorded material at the same time, without interfering with the other users. John Whittaker sums up: “Millennium Square has a busy schedule of events throughout the year which attract thousands of members of the public. We have used Panomera to obtain evidence for a number of incidents. In fact within its first couple of weeks of installation we had video of a handbag theft which the Police said was the best quality images they had ever seen from a “CCTV” system.

“The Panomera multifocal sensor technology from Dallmeier is a remarkable solution to the problem of monitoring the whole of the Millennium Square – no other system would ever have been able to do that f. “, John Whittaker concludes with satisfaction. “We are both pleased and impressed with the power and ease of use of the system and would not want to be without it.”


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