Dacorum Borough Council

"Our primary objective was to save money, and of course to improve overall quality, resilience and reliability."


Dacorum Borough Council had a long history of providing CCTV services and monitoring the shopwatch system in Hemel Hempstead. A move to a new location provided the opportunity to take a radical rethink of their strategy; to break free from the cost of rented fibre networks; expand the services offered providing new cost effective solutions and generate potential revenue streams.

About the Client

With a population of 150,000 Dacorum Council in West Hertfordshire includes the major towns of Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring. Whilst history abounds all around, Hemel Hempstead was one of several ‘New Towns’ established after WW2. Just 24 miles from the centre of London and alongside the M1, there is a vibrant new tech feel to the industry and businesses attracted to the town. The historical towns of ‘Berko’ and Tring are quite different and in the north the landscape flows into rich farmland toward the Dunstable Downs.

The Challenges

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Redevelopment of their Civic Centre site provided the ideal opportunity to reconsider the legacy of networks that had grown over many years as ‘early adopters’ of CCTV and shopwatch systems in the late 1990’s. Networks had grown reliant on third party networks, and that in turn was proving costly and limited the opportunity to introduce new technologies.

Whilst the ShopWatch schemes had been a top-of-the-range analogue solution under the Councils remit, a decision had been made in 2011 to allow the town centre to organise their own system to be monitored by CCTV. Their decision to introduce a budget solution had proven to be problematic and unreliable.

The Solutions

Images throughout the borough were delivered to CCTV over rented fibre from a number of providers. With spiralling costs, this was proving to be both extremely expensive and inflexible. Tackling the legacy of rented fibre, Dacorum reviewed all the options, and decided to consider building their own microwave network. The design they eventually selected formed a ‘ring’ that allowed the data to flow in either direction. In the unlikely event of a failure in any leg of the network, the data would simply re-route to flow the other way.

Resilient and cost effective, with more than adequate capacity, additional services could be added around the ring, breaking out for the ‘last-hop’ to the intended location. ShopSafe’s proposal to build a local and wide area radio solution over the microwave network was one such service, installing multiple radio sites from the microwave ring around the borough. Using the latest digital DMR technology with IP connectivity, the existing town shopwatch schemes in Hemel Hempstead and Grove Hill were then migrated from the ineffective budget system, with two new shopwatch schemes in Berkhampsted and Tring to follow. Using all five sites together delivered a resilient wide-area scheme.

The Results

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ShopSafe’s solution delivered a fully featured digital radio system with capacity to deliver both ‘local’ services tailored for a single town or ‘wide-area’ groups operating throughout the borough. Functionality included GPS positioning, Panic Alarms, Lone Worker and Text messaging. Within CCTV, PC software monitors the relevant user groups, records all conversations and can stun and revive users.

ShopSafe were responsible for delivering the new solution and undertaking training. Via ShopSafe’s 24 hour, 365 day HelpDesk, the customers enjoy comprehensive next-day Service Exchange and Batteries-for-Life. Working to a detailed Service Level Commitment, ShopSafe bill the end user for radio hire and monitoring fees - generating an income stream to offset operator costs.

Whilst new users could be from any source, all of which operate privately within their own group, the first was the Councils own Refuse department - installing radios into their fleet of lorries to replace an expensive cellular radio link. With a separate PC management system, they monitor their system entirely separately of the CCTV control room.

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