Solihull Council's community housing department has improved the security for residents in 42 tower blocks by installing a £2.5m IP-CCTV network to combat crime on estates.
The council said the number of successful prosecutions made against acts such as fly-tipping, criminal damage and violence - which cost it £500,000 a year - has increased since the installation of the IP-based surveillance system. The network allows 24-hour monitoring of sites via a central command centre which captures and relays evidence in real time to the authorities.
The system is also enabling the police to take preventative measures against possible crimes, and residents have reported that they feel safer now that the system is up and running.
Previously, Solihull Community Housing was using traditional caretaking services to patrol sites, but staff could only monitor a limited number of buildings at any one time. Isolated cameras were also installed, but they were ineffective in coordinating surveillance and in relaying information to the authorities to stop crimes as they happened, said the housing department.
The IP CCTV system was made possible after the council installed a 100mbps wide area Ethernet network from ntl:Telewest Business. The design and installation of the network took 12 months and was carried out in consultation with residents.
Greg Lakin, operations manager at Solihull Community Housing, said that funding for the continued running of the network and expansion of services would be charged to residents, with their support.
"The residents were our stakeholders - if they did not see value in having this network in place and its applications, it would not have taken off. The period of consultation lasted from initial design of services through to post-implementation," he said.
Another application which sits on the network is a concierge service. This allows residents to report suspicious behaviour to a central command centre, where video feeds can be further inspected.
The community housing department hopes it will soon be able to stream live coverage to officers via PDAs and it is looking to add a wireless component to the network to extend its reach.
"The high-speed network could also allow us to become a municipal internet provider to residents in high-rise blocks and to provide dedicated community channels to keep residents informed with local information," said Lakin.[email protected]