Security

Keeping an Eye on the Ski Slopes with CCTV

Where It‘s Winter All Year Round

03.03.2010 - With the perfect slope, the perfect snow, and the perfect location; The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is Britain‘s newest indoor snow sports destination. The design for the CCTV s...

With the perfect slope, the perfect snow, and the perfect location; The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead
is Britain‘s newest indoor snow sports destination. The design for the CCTV system utilizes a mixed gigabit Ethernet and fiber-optic infrastruc­ture, planned by Switchnet to support IT, telephony, wireless inter­net and IP-TV throughout the center.


Designed to deliver the alpine conditions every skier and snowboarder dreams of, guests can enjoy a huge 160 m main slope as well as the largest indoor lesson slope in the UK. Both slopes are over 30 m wide and maintained with the perfect snow surface. The Snow Centre employs some of the most highly qualified and talented instructors and coaches in the UK who train snow first-timers, enthusiastic intermediates or even budding Olympians. The center is a British Association of Snow Sports Instructors (BASI) center of excellence. Off the slopes, The Snow Centre hosts team building and corporate hospitality experiences in three air-conditioned conference rooms for up to 55 people.


The project is the brainchild of David Surrey, who first built a plastic outdoor ski slope on the same site in 1978. Over the next 30 years, the original Hemel Ski Centre grew to become one of the best dry slopes in Britain. The construction of the new state-of-the-art facility started in 2008 and cost around £23 million. The final 25,000 square foot site opened in May 2009 with car parking for 250 vehicles and receives up to 10,000 visitors per week during peak times. The Snow Centre has attracted a number of high profile guests including World Cup skier Ed Drake, blind speed skier Kevin Alderton, ski mountain biker Fin Paton and Olympic skier Alain Baxter.


Protecting the Piste
With such a large and prestigious venue, security is critical to The Snow Centre‘s operations. From the first meetings with the architects and the construction firm, due care and consideration was given to how The Snow Centre could be secured effectively and discretely, both indoors and outside. One major area of concern is the „Snow Box", which contains the two main slopes and 80 tons of snow kept at minus two Celsius. The box is lined with a special insulating membrane, which makes running new cables a complex and expensive undertaking. Any CCTV cameras within this area would need to work reliably at low temperatures while offering good quality, even under the glare from the perfect white snow. David Surrey, Commercial Director for The Snow Centre, explains: „The CCTV system needed to be both high quality and reliable with the ability to cover the entire center, from the Snow Box all the way through the car park and main gate. We had worked with Switchnet on an earlier project and had selected them as our primary IT contractor for the center's IT and AV systems, so we turned to them for advice."


Converged Network Design
Switchnet is a leading networking services integrator specializing in the development and support of networking infrastructures. The firm prides itself on being vendor-independent and it maintains CCTV and networking expertise across a number of different manufacturers. With this independence in mind, in early 2008, their project team evaluated the proposed architectural plans and had several meetings with the facilities managers. Based on the client‘s requirements, they came up with a Mobotix-based design using 40 cameras, including four within the Snow Box.
„The Snow Centre had no legacy infrastructure, a good IP network and requirements for high quality images and sound across indoor, outdoor and cold climate conditions," explains Gregg Pike, Operations Director for Switchnet. „In this environment, Mobotix was the natural choice." The CCTV system utilizes the mixed gigabit Ethernet and fiber-optic infrastructure that also carries IT, telephony, wireless internet and IP-TV.
„The decentralized concept used within the Mobotix platform allows us to run the CCTV system high resolutions and with fast frame rates without overloading the network," explains Pike. „With image processing performed inside the camera, The Snow Centre was able to save a considerable sum of money by not having to deploy a control room full of powerful video servers, while staff are able to view the CCTV images from any network-connected PC." With a design approved, work on installing the network and CCTV at the site began in late 2008.


Deterring Unwanted Guests
However, around Christmas of the same year, The Snow Centre building site was hit by a number of incidents of vandalism. Fearing delays to the project, the building contractor McAlpine turned to Switchnet for help. The response was a high mounted Mobotix CCTV camera with night vision lenses, which recorded footage of teenage intruders in the site a few nights later. The footage was passed to the local police who warned the offenders with clear photographic evidence and the vandalism stopped. The build project progressed smoothly with cameras installed in the Snow Box in March of 2009.


Reliability Even in the Cold

„One of the key features of the Mobotix cameras is their ability to operate at low temperatures," explains Pike. „The cameras in the Snow Box don‘t require any heaters or protective housing and the quality was exceptionally high." All 40 cameras are monitored from a security station using MxControlCenter software. By using a decentralized CCTV concept, the center has required only a modest investment in its security station infrastructure, while benefiting from sophisticated video and alarm management with an integrated layout manager to help operators quickly zoom in on areas. After a brief period of training, The Snow Centre facilities and security teams quickly adapted to its use and are able to respond to incidents without further ado.


In fact, shortly after The Snow Centre opened in May of 2009, the Mobotix system was used for such an incident. During a busy session, a fire alarm was triggered, prompting the center to be evacuated. After the ‘all clear' was given by the fire brigade, the facilities managers were able to replay events across the entire center and located an unsecured control point at a low level that had been activated by a small child. „The system allowed the facilities team to quickly evaluate the incident," explains Pike, „and the control point was moved to a higher point on the wall to stop false alarms in the future."


Flawless Operation
Since the opening of The Snow Centre, the Mobotix CCTV solution has performed flawlessly. The installation is discreet, yet offers 100 per cent coverage over all parts of the facility that are accessible to the public. „The safety of our guests and staff is of paramount importance to us," comments Surrey. „Our investment in the security system and diligence of our facilities and security teams ensures that we are able to protect everybody, both on and off the slopes."

Contact

Mobotix AG

Kaiserstraße
67722 Langmeil
Germany

+49 6302 9816 0
+49 6302 9816 190

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