With four of five levels underground, 371,000 sq. ft. to cover and an annual footfall that exceeds ten million, ensuring the safety and security of both shoppers and employees was a top priority for management but presented a range of challenges.
The smooth and safe running of the shopping centre is reliant on multiple teams being able to communicate instantly and efficiently across the large site – something the existing and outdated analogue system was failing to deliver.
A Legacy System Which Failed to Deliver
The shopping centre, now 27-years-old, previously housed an older Kenwood radio system which struggled to provide the radio communications coverage required in an ever-growing and complex site.
Castle Mall had two fundamental issues they were actively looking to resolve. Firstly, over time, major changes to the shopping mall site had resulted in loss of radios signal in many areas, increased numbers of communication blackspots and noisy and intermittent radio communications.
An unreliable comms network where there are inherent health and safety risks could potentially result in teams not receiving messages during critical emergency procedures. It was, therefore essential to management that moving forward, that all Castle Mall shopping centre staff could contact one another and communicate across the whole site instantly at any given time.
Secondly, the existing set-up provided limited capacity, with only one channel available to accommodate both the Maintenance and Security teams. This would sometimes lead to the channel being busy when important information needed to be communicated within the security group.
Castle Mall also expressed a need to be able to centralise and control communications on site and record all radio communications through a central PC based Dispatcher console. This functionality would allow the Shopping Mall managers to better coordinate their teams across the site, and record radio communications for any incident investigations.
To provide the required ‘Control Hub’ and extend the communication range to provide full two-way radio coverage across the site, authorised Hytera dealer Radio Links Communications Ltd, of St Neots in Cambridgeshire installed a brand new Hytera Digital radio communications system.
Using Hytera repeater base stations at opposite ends of the site, and linking them over an IP network, Radio Links were able to provide the full site coverage required, and using this new digital technology, 2 voice channels on each repeater meant that Security and Maintenance would both have their own channels.
I felt the service I received from my initial inquiry through to installation of our new system was extremely good. Radio Links listened to what we required from a radio system, the issues that we were experiencing with are current one. They tailored a system to meet our requirements at a very competitive price, The work was carried out quickly by knowledgeable engineers, who ensured the system was working correctly before handing it over to us, this was followed up a couple of days later to ensure everything was still working.
Marcus Green / Security Manager / Castle Mall Shopping Centre
Additionally, the inclusion of a PC based Hytera Smart Dispatch console in the Castle Mall control suite, connected to the same IP network, provided the required voice recording function as well as much more.
With Smart Dispatch, the Management Team are able to utilise a wide range of features such as text messaging capabilities to single or multiple radio handsets and voice transmission recordings. Smart Dispatch also provides an overview of which staff members have logged in for their shift, with radio registration for both accountability and safety.
A Solution for Every Department
When choosing to upgrade their radio estate, Castle Mall also had to take into consideration the needs of multiple departments and user groups. A handportable radio with a digital display was a necessity for Management and Security Teams as they wanted to be able to send and receive discreet SMS text messages. To accommodate this, Hytera PD665 radios were supplied – featuring a full colour display, and the ability to make individual or group calls via the radio contact list, as well as emergency all call broadcasts. These small sleek and lightweight radios are the perfect pairing for those on long shifts, while the Man Down-enabled (G) version provided that added Health and Safety feature for lone workers. These Hytera digital radios are also extremely robust and durable, provide full site coverage with excellent audio quality, come with long-lasting lithium-ion batteries and are very easy to use.
The Final Result
Castle Mall are now equipped with a fully operational, integrated digital radio communication system. The staff have been very impressed by the much improved and reliable coverage, the instant communications and flexibility, as well as the functionality offered by the lightweight yet rugged radio handsets.
The biggest gains however, have been in terms of Health and Safety. With Lone Worker and Man Down functionality, centrally monitored through the dispatcher, the Management Team are now completely confident that should any member of staff need assistance, they will be able to communicate and respond instantly.