MOBOTIX cameras installed at Paringdon Sports Club in Harlow
Paringdon Sports Club has used monitored CCTV security for its facilities for over 20 years

Paringdon Sports Club is a unique venue offering a multitude of sporting, fitness and social activities for the community of Harlow, a town of 90,000 people just north of London, England. The site which was formerly the staff leisure and sports ground for GlaxoSmithkline, was taken over in 2011 to provide its members with the capabilities to improve their health and fitness, learn new sporting activities, participate in team sports and social events, but most importantly to offer relaxed and intimate surroundings for the community.

Security upgrade and automation

The 17-acre site includes a range of outdoor sporting facilities and a clubhouse with indoor sports facilities, fitness and dance classes, and a gymnasium. The clubhouse offers 2 licenced bars and is well known for a variety of social events. Alongside its 1100 registered members, the club welcomes over seventy-five thousand visitors each year with flagship events like its annual kids football tournament, hosting 50 teams and supporters over a summer weekend. As a venue that prides itself on maintaining a safe and family-friendly atmosphere, the venue has had a long-term commitment to safety and security and has used monitored CCTV security for over 20 years.

However, with a growing membership and extended opening hours from 6am to 12am on certain days, senior management felt that an upgrade to security, plus a level of automation could help to further enhance security and reduce the management burden.

“Our old analogue system was starting to show its age with relatively low-quality images and some reliability concerns,” explains Troy Mead, Director of Paringdon Sports Club, “What we needed was a better quality system but also ways to make it more flexible in terms of management as we didn’t want to have to dedicate any more time to CCTV monitoring when there are other more pressing things to deal with when running a busy venue.”

Alongside CCTV, the Club also recognised a growing need for IT and network infrastructure to deliver services such as WiFi access and EPOS systems and decided that an upgrade of its structured cabling would be beneficial to the growing facility.

MOBOTIX partner Switchnet conducts site survey

After examining a number of potential suppliers and technologies, the Club selected Switchnet Systems based on its proven technical capabilities and also its deep experience gained through working with other busy venues, Switchnet is also a highly regarded national MOBOTIX partner. Switchnet carried out a detailed site survey and provided a number of suggestions on how it could improve the Club’s security coverage and local network infrastructure.

One of the most interesting suggestions was the use of analytics, “This idea of a video security system that was also intelligent enough to give us more insights into what was happening around our site was a bit of a revelation,” says Mead, “But more importantly, it was a feature that would be provided without any additional increased cost or negative impact on the higher resolution cameras we had selected for the project.”

The club selected MOBOTIX hemispheric models that would allow a wider area of coverage from the relatively unobtrusive cameras

MOBOTIX hemispheric technology for wider coverage

In the first phase, the team from Switchnet upgraded the existing structured cabling and updated wireless access points to create a solid foundation for the switch to IP based cameras. Next, Switchnet set up an initial 5 cameras at key areas such as the main reception, key corridors and bar areas. The club selected MOBOTIX hemispheric models that would allow a wider area of coverage from the relatively unobtrusive cameras. “The units we chose look similar to smoke detectors as we wanted to avoid the feeling of ‘big brother’ while still having the best possible image quality,” explains Mead. An additional feature, the MOBOTIX cameras use less than a quarter of the power of its old analogue system with Power over Ethernet to reduce cabling infrastructure.

The Club deployed a range of 6MP MOBOTIX cameras which all use decentralised technology that offers several benefits over its old system. “One of the most useful features about the MOBOTIX technology is that we don’t need to have a dedicated monitoring room,” says Mead, “In fact, any of the management team with the right login credentials can check any camera and all historical footage via any internet connected device – including when we are at home of an evening or even via our mobile phones.”

The club keeps several weeks of surveillance video on a resilient Synology NAS device and as an additional security measure; each camera can independently record 30 days’ worth of video in the event of a NAS failure or LAN outage. The implementation of free MOBOTIX Management Center (MxMC) software provided the Club with more value, “The MOBOTIX technology and the expertise of the Switchnet guys has helped us to retain our existing investment in our video security system by allowing the old analogue cameras to feed into our new MOBOTIX software,” explains Mead, “This means that we can take our time and gradually move over to MOBOTIX when it suits our schedule and budget.”

Gaining insight into a busy venue

Yet it was the analytics technology that has proved particularly interesting. “We have only really dipped our toe into the analytics part but it has proven really useful,” says Mead, “The simplest application is people counting as the cameras can tell us useful information about the site through a set of easy to generate reports.”

The club is using MxAnalytics to monitor people entering and leaving the premises to generate statistical data. The people counting information has allowed the Club to analyse footfall within a specified period and in areas of the site such as reception and recreation areas. The people counting can be compared against data from the club’s members ‘electronic sign-in’ system to help the management team create new membership programmes that hopefully encourage guests to become full members.

The club is using MxAnalytics to monitor people entering and leaving the premises to generate statistical data
The implementation of free MOBOTIX Management Center (MxMC) software provided the Club with more value

The “Heat mapping” capabilities also helps provide accurate statistical data relating to advertisement and sales promotion within the reception area,” explains Mead “Within reception we have a variety of special offers to existing and non-members, we have various internal and external classes taking place and the graphical analysis will provide us with a clear visual of what’s attracting potential new members, allowing us to strategically tailor our business and sales promotions in the future.”

“The other area where the MxAnalytics can help is in potential overcrowding,” explains Mead, “We can tell extremely quickly how many people are in the building including staff, members and guests which is essential for health and safety as well as working out staffing levels.”

“We can also use it as a backup to our room to room inspection when we are closing up at night to make sure that the number of people entering the club matches with the number that have left – to make sure nobody is still in the building,” Mead adds. The system has proven extremely reliable since its installation and the Sales Director believes that the better visibility over club activities will help the management team to improve customer service and develop new revenue generating opportunities.

Expansion and upgrades

With the success of the first project, the Club has brought Switchnet in for a second phase that has expanded the installation to 12 MOBOTIX cameras enabling it to retire almost all its legacy analogue system. “The image quality is fantastic and the system has allowed us to resolve a very minor theft issue by allowing us to show the person irrefutable evidence via the video security system and get them to return the item without involving the police,” says Mead, “The system has also proven extremely reliable and the flexibility of the monitoring means that if there is any issue we can bring up video footage in just a few minutes from almost anywhere in the site.”

Mead is full of praise for both the MOBOTIX technology and the professionalism of its installer: “Switchnet have delivered a professional service and helped us get the most out of our investment in innovative technology which is helping to provide a safe and secure environment for both staff and guests at the Paringdon Sports Club.”