Cameras keep watch in historic Manchester buildings

01 March 2018

Two of Manchester’s iconic buildings have been equipped with 200 video cameras in a long-term project which continues to be updated. The central library and the adjacent town hall extension are both grade II listed. The library was opened in 1934 by George V and the town hall extension was opened four years later by George VI.

Down the years the buildings – a total of 680,00 sq ft – have seen a varied assortment of disparate analog CCTV systems and mismatched access control hardware, both of which were failing. As part of a major revamp, Manchester City Council (MCC) put out a public tender for IP-based video surveillance and access control. It was won by Grantfen Fire & Security, based in Preston.

Grantfen installed Axis Communications’ palm-sizedM3005-Vfixed dome cameras and Genetec’s Security Centrevideo management system monitored from a control room in the town hall extension. With 35 TB of storage, video recordings can be kept for approximately 30 days.

Today, MCC is running Security Centre 5.2, with Omnicast video surveillance and Synergis access control. Its facilities management team watches over access control, using Synergis to control mainentrances, several doors and archive rooms. More access control devices have since been added, including 205 smart card readers, 22 wireless readers and 23 keypad readers, while three also have biometric readers fortighter security in more vulnerable locations.

Other systems were merged into Security Centre, including intrusion detection, fire alarm, building management, emergency lighting, flood and leak detection, lift alarms and SIP-enabled IP intercoms. Additionally, alarms would be relayed to Security Centrefor such emergencies as water leakage in archive rooms, or over temperature in server rooms.

MCC operators use Genetec Plan Manager, a map-based interface that provides 2D or 3D navigation through the two buildings to help them pinpoint devices, pull up cameras, unlock doors, manage intercom and even respond directly to alarms from all third-party systems.

Detailed procedures on how to handle every type of alarm were added for regulatory compliance. For example, when a security guard acknowledges an event, an automatic pop-up box provides instructions on what steps have to be taken.

Similar systems are planned for the town hall, opened in 1887, which is closed until 2024 for £306m-worth of restoration work.