Making Croydon Safer with Digital Mobile Radio

Making Croydon Safer with Digital Mobile Radio

Croydon’s CSE Chatterbox Alarm Location Monitoring (CALM) system is one of the largest, most complex Tier II Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) systems in the country with many advanced features beyond voice communication. It has significantly increased the safety of workers, residents and visitors in the Borough.

CALM has delivered:

  • Clearer audio communication
  • Management GPS worker tracking app
  • Voice recording and tracking history

The Client

With a population of around 342 000 the London Borough of Croydon is one of the capital’s largest boroughs. It has over 2.5m sq ft of retail area, including Valley Retail Park and Centrale and Whitgift shopping centres, making it a major destination for shopping and leisure activities. Keeping residents, visitors and council staff safe in this densely populated, busy area is a priority for the council.

The Challenge

Croydon rents two DMR systems from CSE Chatterbox, one for council employees and one for Safer Croydon Radio (SCR), which serves many of Croydon’s retailers. Together these use over 630 two-way radios. CSE Chatterbox understands the importance of implementing relevant advances in technology and has recently migrated all radios from analogue to digital bringing a number of benefits, most notably clearer audio communication and emergency GPS tracking.

Because the system is rented, the Council has the reassurance that they will not be left working with an out of date system they have invested in.
Gary Leatherby, Managing Director, CSE Chatterbox
Improving Employee Communication and Safety

Croydon’s primary system is a Borough wide digital system for use by employees and associated companies.

Over 250 council employees and contractors on this Very High Frequency (VHF) system use Hytera PD785G hand portable radios, which offer health and safety emergency features like lone worker and man-down functions which work together with GPS location to help ensure user safety. Users who require a more discreet two-way radio use the ultra thin, robust Hytera X1p radios on the same system. Hytera MD785G mobile radios, used on council trucks to provide more efficient radio communications, make up the remainder of the fleet. Managers can monitor the system, e.g. track location of personnel etc., using via a password protected app.

Four Hytera RD985 VHF repeater base stations in central Croydon work with a further four Hytera RD985 VHF repeaters at New Addington. Connected via a microwave link, with an ADSL link as backup, they provide users with seamless coverage throughout the Borough despite difficult topography. The radio system Infrastructure has been designed to be expandable to new sites, should the radio coverage need to extend to cover new areas.

The base stations link to two control rooms each monitoring its own group of users.

In Thornton Heath the main control room, managed by David Eastoe and his team, monitors communication from radio users in Community and Street Safety, and Housing. The control room also serves Interserve personnel working on behalf of Croydon. Interserve is the Borough’s integrated total facilities management partner.

“In an emergency the control room can open radio communication to hear what’s happening and provide appropriate assistance.

All communication is recorded, which is an essential health & safety record and also useful for staff training.
David Eastoe, CCTV Team Manager, London Borough of Croydon

In central Croydon a second control room is dedicated to monitoring Parking Services radio users. CSE Chatterbox Alarm Location Monitoring (CALM) is installed in both control rooms enabling on screen GPS tracking, lone worker, man down and emergency alarm monitoring contributing significantly to the safety of the Borough’s radio users. It is essential to Croydon that this information is recorded and logged, and that it can be extracted if needed, so CALM provides voice recording and tracking history and is able to create and export reports for all the features it provides.

Digital two-way radios offer several advantages over analogue solutions:
Clearer audio with noise reduction, consistent throughout the coverage area
Longer battery life
Easier integration with data and communication applications like local alarm systems (e.g. SCADA, Fire Panels)
Emergency Alarm monitoring with GPS
Text messaging (allows discreet communication)
Telemetry (e.g. radios can be used for opening security gates)
Telephone interconnect
Digital secure signal encryption up to 256 bit

All digital equipment works in both analogue and digital mode allowing progressive migration to a full digital system

“The system would come into its own in a 7/7 situation. If the police needed to block cellular phones to prevent interference the system would allow the council to carry on and co-ordinate necessary action.”
Paul Ratcliffe, Street and Community Safety Manager, London Borough of Croydon

Making Croydon a Safer Borough with Shop Watch

For nearly twenty years the London Borough of Croydon has supported retailers in the Borough with the provision of a shop watch scheme, and for over fifteen years Chatterbox has provided the two-way radios for it.

Safer Croydon Radio offers local businesses (retailers, licensed premises etc.) the opportunity to subscribe to a shared two-way radio system, enabling them to communicate with a central control system, which also monitors the Boroughs CCTV cameras, and other subscribers, sharing information about suspicious or threatening behaviour and requesting help if needed.

In November 2011, following the riots that devastated the town centre that summer, The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced an investment of £23m to help return Croydon to its former glory as a major commercial centre and contributor to the capital’s economy. The London Borough of Croydon channelled part of this funding into an additional 60 radios for the SCR system. Funded for two-years, these additional radios have encouraged more retailers to join the scheme, widening the support and protection of the system.

Over 370 two-way radios are currently live on the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) SCR system. Since the upgrade these are now all compact digital Hytera PD505 hand portables. The radios communicate via four Simoco digital repeater base stations tactically situated within the Borough and linked by microwave link and ADSL as backup to Chatterbox Alarm Location Monitoring (CALM) system at a central control room, which also monitors the Boroughs CCTV cameras.

SCR is one of the largest local authority controlled shop watch schemes in the UK. The whole system is rented from CSE Chatterbox.

“The safety of people who live and work in Croydon is of paramount importance to us. Crime in the Borough is falling but fear of crime is still high. Schemes like SCR reassure the local community.”

Paul Ratcliffe, Street and Community Safety Manager, London Borough of Croydon

The Benefits of Safer Croydon Radio to Members:
Direct radio link to CCTV control room allows users to inform staff of any crimes and/or suspicious behaviour
Staff can then position cameras to record these concerns and can track offenders after they have left the scene
The Council’s Area Enforcement Officers (AEOs) monitor the radio. In instances of low level crime and anti-social behaviour, they can be called upon to attend the scene
Members can use the radios to circulate descriptions of suspects etc.
Police have the facility to listen in to the system, and the control room can call the police or the fire service if necessary

All digital equipment works in both analogue and digital mode allowing progressive migration to a full digital system

CSE Chatterbox Alarm Location Monitoring (CALM)

CALM goes beyond the provision of two-way radio communication to incorporate other functions offered by two-way radios and the system that can be integrated with them. Solutions are bespoke to each customer and their requirements.

Experienced CSE Chatterbox personnel consider the customers existing way of working, listen to their requirements, look at the technology available and build a solution appropriate to the customers business needs.

CSE Chatterbox offers customers in depth knowledge of two-way radio communications and related technologies, a range of products from the World’s leading companies in two-way radio communication, and an unparalleled level of service with a committed account team for every CALM customer.

Thank you to Paul Ratcliffe and his team for their help in collating the information for this case study.