By upgrading its surveillance solution with Synectics’ Synergy 3 command and control platform, Salford City Council has been able to introduce important new ‘crime fighting’ camera technology, while also boosting incident and evidence management capabilities to better support and partner with the police in making the city a safer place to live.

City Surveillance Success

Salford is a city in Greater Manchester with a population of around 220,000 people and, like many other urban local authorities, is affected by a range of issues, from vehicle theft and fly-tipping (illegal dumping of waste) to anti-social behavior, violent and organised crime. The council’s CCTV team plays a crucial role in helping to tackle these problems.

Ultimately, we want to make Salford a safer place to live, work, and visit,” said Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety for Salford City Council, “which means we are always looking for ways to improve and adapt the resources we have to achieve that goal.”

From its central control room in Swinton, Salford City Council’s CCTV team monitors 120 cameras located across the city, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Councillor Lancaster continued: “Proactively monitoring activity, and being able to help the police to respond to incidents as efficiently as possible is a challenge in such a busy city. You simply have to have the right control system in place to prioritize public safety.

For us, Synectics’ Synergy platform was that system. Since implementing it in 2009 we had always found it easy to use and we’d never have any outage problems at all. So when we learned about the enhanced capabilities offered by Synergy 3, particularly in relation to third-party integration and evidence management, we could immediately see opportunities for improving public service, while also continuing with a solution we knew very well and trusted. In 2015 we made the decision to upgrade and haven’t looked back.”

Managing The Evidence Life Cycle

Salford City Council’s CCTV team works closely with the police to detect, tackle and help prevent crime. Handling requests for footage review, tracking live incidents and safeguarding evidential data for investigative and prosecution purposes are part of daily life.

For Salford City Council it is also one of the key areas where Synergy 3 has delivered significant benefits. Councillor Lancaster explained: “The incident and evidence management tools within Synergy 3 allow us to efficiently capture, secure, store and share video footage with our police colleagues, ensuring that data integrity is maintained throughout.”

The ability to capture high-quality
evidential footage of this nature
means the police can often now
secure pre-trial guilty pleas

On spotting any suspicious, criminal or anti-social activity, operatives in Salford’s control room can immediately trigger an incident management process in Synergy 3 which logs all video footage, associated data and system activity in a temporary repository where it is SHA-2 encrypted and transferred to a secure evidence locker.

During and after an ‘incident’ operators can also add notes to the footage stored which, should the incident span multiple shifts, ensures continuity between members of the surveillance team. 

Synergy 3 also supports collaborative working with the police by enabling better audio and visual communication with officers operating across the city.

An integral two-way radio system ensures that potential threats and incidents are communicated quickly, ensuring that officers can be directed to – and updated on – events based on real-time intelligence, supporting rapid response.

The system upgrade also means Salford is now benefiting from multi-view capabilities – with operatives now tracking up to 16 cameras on a single monitor in order to better manage incidents, gather evidence and respond to visual verification requests from officers on the ground. Additionally, using ‘Follow Me’ functionality within Synergy 3, the council CCTV team can permit authorized officers to log-in and view live camera feeds remotely.

Making HD Camera Integration Easy And Effective

As an open architecture command and control solution, Synergy 3 is compatible with a wide range of third-party security, enterprise and data management systems.

At Salford, the ability to integrate third-party video has enabled the council to integrate its full range of legacy analog and IP cameras with third-party HD IP cameras that provide full-color surveillance in low light conditions. The council will also be able to easily introduce newer technologies, such as 4K cameras, as budget and needs dictate.

The result of Salford’s improved HD capability is that crimes taking place under the cover of darkness that were previously difficult to detect – drug dealing, car theft or burglary – are now visible and tracked. In one incident, a suspect was apprehended after night-time surveillance footage showed them checking the front doors of numerous houses on a single street to see if they were unlocked.

Having the ability to capture high-quality evidential footage of this nature means the police can often now secure pre-trial guilty pleas,” noted Councillor Lancaster.

Another major benefit of the council’s improved HD capability is that cameras can zoom into vehicle registration plates at a far greater distance, helping police to track suspects using license plate recognition. This has had a major impact on tackling the issue of fly-tipping, with 45 offenders identified since 2014. The image quality improvements also help with efforts to locate missing people by providing clearer facial details.

Driving Operational Efficiencies And Generating Income

Synectics’ hardware implemented as part of the upgrade has also helped the council deliver on cost and energy efficiency targets. For example, their new Synectics’ servers have reduced power consumption by almost half. On a five-year life cycle, the reduced energy and cooling requirements equate to £7,000 in savings as well as a significant decrease in rack space.

Meanwhile, the quality and reliability of Salford’s enhanced solution have been an important factor in the council’s ability to sell its surveillance services to parties such as schools, businesses and private entities including industrial estates – effectively turning a financial outlay into a potential source of income generation.

Our approach to surveillance and
how we use Synergy 3 means we
are catching more criminals and
securing high arrest rates
"

As part of efforts to attract customers, the council secured the British Standard 7958 for CCTV management and operation from SSAIB (Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board). A key requirement for the standard is being able to justify the need for each camera monitored – justification Salford has easily demonstrated through using Synergy 3’s extensive and intuitive reporting capabilities.

To date, Salford is one of only a handful of public authority organizations to hold this certification. 

Facilitating Future Efficiency And Crime Fighting Capability

It is not just Salford’s CCTV team that have been impressed by the solution. Plans are now in place for Trafford Council’s CCTV team to move into Salford’s control room, the aim being for the councils to share resources and expertise as they work to tackle crime in their respective cities. 

If our control room hadn’t had a resilient and dependable system in place, Trafford wouldn’t have even considered the move”, noted Councillor Lancaster. “The reliability and usability of Synergy 3, together with its open architecture and ability to integrate with the latest camera technology, ensures Salford is setting the standard for public surveillance in the North West.

Our approach to surveillance and how we use Synergy 3 means we are catching more criminals and securing high arrest rates, all of which allows us to make significant inroads into the overall reduction of crime and disorder, making Salford a safer place to live, work and visit.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More
Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.

Smart Offices: How Is Mobile ID Changing The Way We Access The Office?
Smart Offices: How Is Mobile ID Changing The Way We Access The Office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organizations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points, and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient, and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realizing the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organizations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.