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New CCTV centre to keep city safe and roads moving

A brand new, multi-agency CCTV control centre with fully upgraded technology is now keeping a watchful eye on Plymouth’s streets and road network.

Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the new centre monitors 356 cameras across Plymouth, covering its key transport routes, car parks, district shopping centres and city centre pedestrian areas.

It replaces ageing facilities previously located in the Council House and brings together teams from across the Council, including CCTV operators, urban traffic control officers and staff from highways maintenance contractor South West Highways in a more modern, collaborative working space.

It also includes a dedicated room for the police, where they can monitor and review footage without having to interrupt day-to-day operations.

With 57 high-definition screens (which can also provide multiple split-screens), staff can now display images from at least three times as many locations as before, at a much higher resolution.

Direct links to enforcement colleagues, the police and Plymouth Against Retail Crime (PARC) mean the CCTV and Urban Traffic Control teams can now work more closely together to monitor sites and respond to any issues, from medical incidents or anti-social behaviour to traffic collisions or road flooding.

The centre is also fully connected to the emergency help points in and around the city centre, Barbican and Mutley.

Dated computer equipment and systems have been replaced, with improved traffic control software and better connectivity to signalised junctions, so engineers can adapt timings in response to problems on the city’s roads. Systems also draw in traffic data from the Council’s public transport and events teams as well as the emergency services and the Tamar Bridge and will soon also include occupancy data from the city’s car parks.

Engineers are also developing journey time monitoring, which will help to identify congestion hotspots, improve signal timing efficiency and inform future traffic management strategies (for example in managing events, such as Plymouth Argyle home matches). It will also enable teams to better manage traffic flow and provide priority where necessary, for example to improve bus service reliability.

Data from the city’s weather forecasting stations is also collated at the centre to plan winter road gritting and emissions monitoring from air quality sensors at designated sites such as Mutley Plain now means traffic control staff can respond to immediate air quality deterioration, for example by releasing queuing vehicles.

Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, said: “Our old CCTV control room was not fit-for-purpose and our equipment desperately needed to be replaced and upgraded. Our CCTV and traffic control teams were also based in separate locations. This new facility brings key people together in a more suitable, more secure environment that meets the latest industry standards and supports closer partnership working.

“Investment in the latest computer software and systems means we are now much better equipped to monitor and respond quickly to what is happening on the street and on our roads, keep residents safe and keep traffic moving. However, importantly, it also means it is now easier to gather and analyse key data that can be used for future traffic management planning – for everything from one-off city events to major new development works and sustainable travel strategies.”

Councillor Sally Haydon, Cabinet Member with responsibility for community safety, said: “This new CCTV control centre is already making a big difference to the teams monitoring our busy shopping and visitor areas, providing better surveillance, clearer footage and closer communication with partners. Together with our emergency help points, it is helping us to spot and respond more quickly to any incidents that do arise, which means a safer community for everyone.

“We’re really pleased to have been able to provide a dedicated space for the police, which means we can maintain round-the clock operations while they carry out their vital work – and enables us to work more closely together.”

The new centre was made possible thanks to funding secured from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund.