Durham City Centre

Durham is Riding with Vicon

Durham City CentreHow did the Durham County Council decrease traffic congestion and pollution in Durham City Centre, improve pedestrian safety and make shopping and leisure activities more pleasurable? It installed a Vicon CCTV system!

Originally installed to improve traffic management, the system is providing all sorts of unexpected benefits. For starters, Vicon’s Surveyor dome cameras and Kollector DVRs are assisting the local authority in encouraging visitors to use the centre’s shopping and recreational facilities while discouraging them from travelling there in their cars. The visible presence of Vicon surveillance equipment at three Park-and-Ride facilities on the outskirts of Durham serves as a real deterrent to thieves and vandals and makes people feel more comfortable about leaving their cars there for a large part of the day.

In addition to preventing theft, the system has proven effective at assisting Park-and-Ride drivers in some surprising ways. Eagle-eyed operators using the Surveyor dome noticed that a lady customer had a flat tyre. Since regular customers pay with pre-credited Smart cards, staff were able to enter the registration plate into a database, access the customer’s details, forewarn her that she had a flat and even arrange for attendants to assist her when she returned! More impressive still, there has been a case in which an operator noticed keys left in a vehicle’s ignition. Management secured the car and the keys were left waiting in reception area for the driver.

Camera coverage at the pay stations is extensive so customers are reassured that there is a monitoring presence as they handle cash or credit cards. And if a customer is seen to spend more than time than usual at the pay station, perhaps being unsure how to work the ticket machine, again an observant operator in the control room can assist them. A friendly voice and face then come over the tannoy and screen and offer advice.

The scheme is overseen by Durham County Council and run by NCP who report to the Council under a management contract. The principal site is Belmont with the satellite locations communicating by fibre network over a LAN using the ViconNet software platform. Operators at Belmont take control of the Howlands Farm and Sniperley cameras when required.

County Council traffic managers are exploiting the flexibility of the ViconNet software platform which allows them freedom to place cameras and DVRs at strategic points anywhere in the system and so best meet the needs of car drivers and security operators.

The fact that Durham residents now have confidence to leave their vehicles in the Park-and-Ride facilities is proving to be of general benefit to the community and the environment. As David Battensby of Durham County Council’s Traffic Section explains, “Everything about this operation had to have the stamp of quality – from the dedicated, liveried buses to the pictures from the Vicon CCTV system. Footage from the Vicon DVRs gives us the kind of data we need and provides Durham Constabulary with high quality images where necessary.”

Chris Wall, Managing Director of Vicon’s UK office, further explains, “This application shows how CCTV is improving people’s lives at different levels. We hear that 500 less vehicles a day are entering the city centre. The knock-on benefits are substantial.”