Over the Easter Weekend, Network Rail installed temporary security cameras at their Norton Bridge Junction, at the point where the West Coast Main Line splits in two, towards Stone/Manchester and Liverpool/Glasgow. As is so often the case with construction sites, security is of paramount importance, and, as ever, CCTV has a vital role to play.
What is the Norton Bridge Junction?
The logistics of this junction are very complex indeed. Whenever a train travels toward Stone, it must cross two railway lines. Whilst this is happening, traffic along those lines must come to a halt. The intention of the new junction is to split slow and fast moving trains by allowing those bound for Manchester and Stone to cross over the West Coast Main Line.
As you might expect, the project involves a considerable amount of work. A new flyover must be constructed in order to alleviate congestion. This will separate intercity, commuter and freight traffic, and ensure that they don’t slow one another down. There will be ten new bridges made, and one existing bridge will be altered. A local highway, the B5026, will be realigned in order to accommodate the new structure, and nearby roads, rivers, footpaths, gas mainlines and will be diverted. Also, efforts must be made to minimise the impact of the works on the local environment – newts, owls and otters will all be affected.
Of course, a project of this scale will involve enormous amounts of effort and investment. For this reason, it’s essential that this investment is protected. Security is therefore paramount, and high-quality cameras will play a significant part in this.
Why security cameras?
Construction sites, by their very nature, are less secure than finished structures. This is so for a variety of reasons. They’re physically more accessible, by virtue of the fact that the perimeter walls protecting them are either temporary or unfinished. They’re filled with high-valuable equipment, which potential thieves might find attractive.
Construction site contractors are constantly coming and going, and many of them are present for only a very limited timespan to perform specialist tasks. This flow of unfamiliar faces presents would-be intruders with a means of entering undetected. After they’ve been and gone, there will be no way of identifying the miscreant – unless, that is, you call upon the aid of a security camera.
But it’s not just the security risks we must consider. On train lines, health and safety concerns are especially heightened. By empowering site operators with the ability to observe their employees, we can help to ensure that health and safety procedures are being observed. After all, the presence of an all-seeing eye will provide workers with an incentive to play by the rules – after all, you never know who’s watching.
One final benefit that security cameras bring is that they eliminate the need for additional security staff. Of course, in a smaller setting, CCTV might remove the need for security staff entirely. In a project of this scope, however, their role is supplementary; they provide the security staff on the ground with an ‘eye in the sky’, which they can use to identify problems before they occur. This marriage of human thinking and technology can provide a level of security that neither could do alone.
The cameras installed at the new site are mounted atop extendable towers. These towers are self-contained units, comprising a tall elevated pole with the camera mounted at the top, and a base, where all of the supporting hardware is contained. From this high vantage point, the camera operators will be able to observe the goings on over a wide area.
Mounting a camera in this way will allow the junction to be surveyed from a height, without relying on any existing structures. This is especially advantageous in situations like this, as there are no such structures to rely upon.
The design is doubly advantageous in that it makes the camera inaccessible – it cannot be taken down, vandalised or otherwise sabotaged. Moreover, since the unit is self-contained, there are no exposed wires to attack, or trailing cables along the ground to sever.
Another advantage of this design lies in the ease with which the towers can be installed; they were simply wheeled in, positioned and then wheeled out when their task is complete. This allows for costs to be minimised, along with environmental impact.
The base of the unit contains all of the items necessary for them to operate. It’s in here that find the generator, which provides the unit with power. The generator is equipped with enough fuel to last for six weeks of continuous operation. With monthly maintenance, the cameras will be able to be kept in constant operation, allowing for round-the-clock protection for the site.
These units also contain adequate capacity to store the footage. There is room enough for six gigabytes of high-quality video. With one video lasting for a minute, twenty videos can be stored in total.
While these towers are designed to work without the aid of any outside devices, they are still able to integrate with other devices by Tag Systems. With the help of a TagAlarm system, it’s able to detect movement and is configured to automatically reposition the camera head to respond to activations, meaning that intruders can be targeted. The alarm system works via IR detection units communicating via mobile data networks to a Base Station, allowing it to detect motion over a large area.
The two devices, detector and camera, can be positioned anywhere within six-hundred metres of one another. In concert, they form a formidable team – one that will detect intruders and the other capture their image reducing the risk of theft or damage.
When the data is recorded, it’s also transmitted to a central secure server, where it can be stored. This helps to remove the possibility that the data might be destroyed – either deliberately or otherwise. This allows authorised staff at Network rail to access the footage remotely, either via Bluetooth or Wi Fi, and see what’s going on on-site, wherever in the world they might be.