Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) is the 11th largest university in the UK with around 31,000 students. It has two campuses based in Sheffield, one in the city centre and another 1.5 miles away in southwest Sheffield, along with other facilities in the city.
The security team at SHU required complete visibility over the many students and staff members across its campus locations, something that wasn’t possible on its legacy analogue CCTV system. It looked to upgrade the old system with a newer Internet Protocol (IP) system that could send and receive data over SHU’s extensive network.
Why SHU Chose Milestone
Milestone was an attractive proposition to SHU for several reasons, including its ability to support Axis cameras, run on SHU’s existing fibre network and integrate with other hardware and applications.
SHU has a very busy security control room that has numerous signals coming from alarms, disabled refuge units (an alert system for emergency assistance), video cameras, intercoms and fire alerts. Milestone’s open platform will allow SHU to consolidate these different systems into one user-friendly location for its security team, while XProtect’s intuitive interface was easy to master, even by those new to the system.
Before deciding on Milestone, SHU’s security team conducted site visits of several existing Milestone clients, including West Yorkshire Police. In many ways, this clinched the deal as the SHU security team was impressed with the use of video surveillance across the police force and encouraged by the feedback from officers.
Now there are approximately 300 cameras across the SHU campuses, running on XProtect Corporate. This number will increase to around 400-500 cameras as further buildings are developed by the university.SHU runs its video system with regular upgrades that can be introduced with no downtime. Milestone works within SHU’s virtualised environment, fitting easily into its original model for providing IT services. This, coupled with Milestone’s open architecture, allows SHU to use more state-of-the-art hardware.
A Speedier System
It can also test proofs-of-concept more easily, sometimes in a matter of minutes. As SHU Infrastructure Analyst, Richard Smith, explains, “Someone can come and ask us if something is possible. After a quick reconfiguration we can turn to them and say ‘There you go, it’s working’ – the speed to implement services and change is brilliant.”
Another significant time-saving operation is the use of the smart search and sequence search feature – this enables the team to quickly review video footage versus traditional playback.
An integration with an LPR module has automated a barrier along one SHU service road. Recognised vehicles are now let through by the system, stopping endless interruptions throughout the day for operators, and freeing them to focus on other tasks.
Further integrations are now being investigated to help the team further, notably around scheduling the locking of doors and alarm setting buildings, which are currently time-consuming, manual tasks.
Immediate Results; Future Options
SHU benefitted immediately from the new system’s aforementioned time-saving benefits and efficiencies, along with emerging maintenance savings. Increased performance in turn led to savings on planned server investments while also reducing the associated carbon footprint. XProtect is also more scalable, with 12 network recorders reduced to just two in the new platform.
Of course, the most notable benefit has come from Milestone’s open platform that has given SHU much greater flexibility. SHU also has a development system to test new integrations and concepts, before rolling out across campus.
As Richard says, “A lot of future plans can now be built on Milestone’s capabilities.”