Safe and secure

Cartel partners Newham to enhance housing estate securityThree miles from the City of London lies the London Borough of Newham, whose key location as the cultural gateway to London has been the dominant factor in its development and expansion.
Much of the London borough’s community housing stock is in the form of large estates comprising high-rise blocks completed in the 1960s and 70s. Recently, these estates have been the focus of a multi-level regeneration scheme, led by the borough. Part of the programme has been the introduction of emergency call/help points, to enhance overall security and provide a level of reassurance to residents and visitors. This enhancement was further complemented by the inclusion within lifts, ensuring BS EN 81 compliance. Working in partnership with Newham, Cartel Security Systems (part of the OpenView Group) entered into a lengthy evaluation of available options, and after due consideration specified the latest technology from Commend UK. Since commencement, Newham, Cartel & Commend have worked closely to further develop a flexible strategy, with installation and maintenance being undertaken by Cartel.
Kevin Hall, operations director of Cartel explains the system design process: “Due to the significant regeneration throughout the borough’s many buildings, including the lift systems, each had to be BS EN81 European Standard compliant, the standard that dictates the provision for safety in goods and passenger lifts. Also, Newham was keen to deploy a compliant flexible intercom system that would be the basis for a broader, more security and safety focused intercom system.
“Through a managed process of technical development and by working closely with the council, we assisted in the design of a flexible solution via the deployment of Commend Intercom and Help Point technology. As well as their inherent future-proof expansion flexibility, specifying a complete end-to-end Commend solution supplemented with independent CCTV, meant we could be confident in the quality and sturdiness of the installed products within the harsh operational public environment.”

Area regeneration
Garry Hobbs, principal electrical services Engineer at Newham Council takes up the story: “The refurbishment and modernisation of our council housing network is a very large project, and one that includes a number of managed stages. To encourage ‘community spirit’ and bring a more reassuring feeling to residents in the area, Newham felt a significant enhancement to complement the access control and security of each tower block was appropriate, as part of the ongoing regeneration scheme. Having worked closely with Cartel, a leading supplier of convergent technology solutions on previous installations and over a number of years as a maintenance and systems integrator, we were pleased to continue a very successful partnership to make the project a reality. Newham’s housing varies from large estates with single or multiple concierge blocks, to small estates, and single stand alone blocks. There was a desire to provide an emergency communication facility that would satisfy various criteria, including flexibility of transmission (due to the diversity of sites and limited available infrastructure), flexibility of operation, high audio quality, and a choice of robust call point hardware. In short, we required a system that would enhance and complement existing door entry concierge systems.
“The ongoing programme provides emergency communications to connect to the on duty concierge, transfer to a different block, or default upon a ‘non-answer’ to the borough’s emergency control centre. If the housing block is stand-alone, with no concierge, initiated calls route directly to the control centre via Intercom and Help Point technology from Commend.
“Such has been the success of the system that we are keen to provide this facility to all selected council-owned blocks, in addition to being able to connect direct or transfer calls to our main control room. As tall blocks are refurbished, the generic specification includes, CCTV cameras alongside the required Commend system; allowing us to enhance security across the council’s housing network.”

Effective technology
“The most recently finished project is the Hermit Estate, consisting of 8 lifts and 48 emergency call / Help Points. It’s a typical example of how the intercom and access control system helps to meet both the operational requirements of the council’s housing network, and the relevant European and British Standards now in place regarding multiple occupancy buildings.
“For example, detailed requirements have to be met regarding the newly installed resident lifts. The BS EN 81 European Standard dictates the positioning and precise specification of any communication system deployed within the lifts.”
Addressing these requirements, Newham and Cartel jointly recognised and agreed to specify Commend’s lift specific intercom stations in each lift; and similar units installed on top of the lift, in the lift pit, and lift motor rooms (for use by engineering staff should a lift car stop). In addition to these units, emergency call / Help Point intercom stations have been deployed in the lobby area of each building, to be used for lift safety and public emergency use. Application specific design features, such as yellow stainless steel housings and single-button operation, provide both maximum visibility and help with compliance to today’s exacting fire regulations. Vandal resistant construction and exceptionally high-speech quality provide high-performance service each time the unit is used, in addition to a long product life span. Providing extra on-street reassurance for residents and visitors, similar units are also employed around the exterior of the flats, strategically positioned in view of the council’s CCTV cameras.
Garry Hobbs continues the story: “It was crucial for us to roll out the most effective technology available, and especially in view that a particular passion of mine is that no call should ever go unanswered, no matter what time of day it is made, or where ever it is made from. Using the latest Commend technology has resulted in the seamless routing of each call, to the point that the individual initiating it has no idea if it is being answered in the concierge office downstairs, or in the Emergency Control Centre some miles away!”
Calls are transmitted and routed via a combination of media: the council’s own high-speed LAN/WAN network, BT RS 1000D, and ADSL. This provides a reliable, high-quality and cost-effective IoIP® (Intercom over IP) transmission network. In the unlikely event of network failure however, and adhering to Garry’s remit that each and every each intercom call should be answered, the use of Commend technology also allows fully automatic switching to the public telephone network.
The final link in the chain is the Commend Comwin Reporter System GUI, again located at the borough’s Emergency Control Centre. Ultimately customisable to record and produce reports on a multitude of system parameters, Newham Council’s management primarily use the powerful audit trail to produce detailed reports on the duration of calls and how quickly they were answered, in addition to the monitoring of any ongoing system faults or maintenance schedules. Importantly, the system will alert as soon as a network connection is lost, enabling the fault to be investigated and rectified as quickly as possible whilst maintaining the connectivity via the PSTN resilient back up.

Complete service
Garry continues: “As the system takes shape, it goes from strength-to-strength and allows us to provide a better service for our residents. When we began the rollout of this technology, we worked very hard to keep residents informed of its purpose, and the advantages it would bring to everyday life in their community. It is important for the overall success of the scheme that the residents aren’t suspicious of the system and understand how to use it. Since commencing the project, we have had some fantastic successes, with residents able to directly contact the concierge/control room in the event of distress, or to report criminal or anti-social behavior via the ‘secure’ network. This provides added reassurance that the borough control room and the on duty police officer are instantly contactable, and able to liaise with colleagues to assist or attend incidents when appropriate. Using the new system, residents now have a tool they can use to take a more active stance in their community, and are willing to use it to make a difference in the area. This has given the council the ability to react to minor incidents swiftly, reducing both their impact on the area and on the council’s resources.
“Via the intuitive and seamless routing of calls, we will be able to provide a true 24-hour service to our network of multiple tower blocks, located across many estates borough wide, as well as various low-rise blocks. In some areas we are enhancing the facility further by including call point provision to estate based CCTV columns, thus providing even greater protection.”
The system is still expanding to encompass other social housing estates the council owns in the area, enabling neighbouring London boroughs to look at progressing similar systems, to protect and secure their own estates.
Greg Gregoriou, Commend UK’s sales & marketing director, concludes: “The power of Commend equipment is in the flexibility of how it can be applied and integrated with other equipment. This, combined with Newham’s vision and Cartel’s installation and integration expertise has produced a leading-edge solution that has proved to be of great value to the local community.”

For more information
For further information please contact:
Suzanne Kenneally
Marketing Manager
Commend UK Ltd
Tel: 01279 457 510