London and Moscow Play It Safe with Surveillance

Keeping an eye out for public safety and receiving real-time alerts are paramount for effective city surveillance. This article examines how municipal surveillance is implemented in Britain and Russia from the eyes of local installers.

The Real London Eye

Keeping the streets of London safe for its 10 million workers and residents is no mean feat. In the heart of the capital, in the bustling West End around Oxford Street and Regent Street, the sheer number of pedestrians and vehicles on the move can make effective surveillance a seemingly impossible task.

AMG Systems was asked to design and install a fiber optic transmission backbone to support a surveillance network. This would not only cover the shopping heartland of Oxford Street and Regent Street, but extend to the tourist hotspots of Trafalgar Square and Hungerford Bridge. With such a high-profile area, reliability, resilience and sophistication were paramount.


The West End of London, with its retail outlets, theaters, tourist attractions and government buildings, has changed over the past five years. A buoyant economy and many tourists have increased pedestrian traffic in the commercial areas. Recent political events have made the areaˇs security and surveillance a higher priority.

Surveillance in the West End is not new. Westminster City Council (WCC) has been a driving force for public monitoring since London's first surveillance system in 1997. WCC worked with the Oxford Street Association, building a monitoring facility at Marylebone Police Station. Working together with their surveillance consultants, Aver Consulting Sola Consulting (ACSC), it was integrated into their surveillance system based in the Trocadero Centre, Piccadilly.

¨AMG designed and supplied the fiber optic network for the original 17 cameras in Oxford Street,〃 said Trevor Aver of ACSC. ¨Our confidence in the AMG equipment led the WCC and ourselves to nominate AMG to provide the links and equipment for the integration into the WCC Control Room.〃

WCCˇs own system has extensive coverage throughout the West End. They encompass more than 10 square miles, surveying landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. Six of Londonˇs busiest underground railway stations fall within the area.

Centralized Control

The existing camera infrastructure had been installed using AMG's Vision 2000 single channel transmission system. Vision 2000 equipment high powered variant was chosen for the new link. Available in single or dual fiber variants, Vision 2000 is a cost-effective solution for local area camera networks. It transmits video, audio and data signals over multimode optical fiber for distances up to eight kilometers.

Additional Capabilities

A new matrix was installed in the Trocadero to integrate the entire system, which consists of 115 cameras throughout central London, with more planned. As a result, the Oxford Street cameras were upgraded and the existing Vision 2000 transmission equipment modified to operate with the new matrix.

The control room incorporated video feeds from a nine-camera system monitoring the Hungerford Bridge installed by ATEC. The bridge forms a vital link in London's train network, carrying every train arriving at or leaving from Charing Cross Station.

With the new integrated monitoring center at Trocadero, the cameras were linked to the network. AMG Vision 2000 transmission equipment was deployed at either end of a two-kilometer fiber link between the Trocadero and the bridge.

All the camera feeds are archived to an array of digital video recorders. Footage is retained for 31 days and may be retrieved and viewed by control room operators during this period. Because the AMG equipment transmits full bandwidth, uncompressed video over the network, WCC and other agencies can store high quality video.

Security and Surveillance

The West End of London does not resemble a vast, high security compound, but the demands on the AMG system are similar. Continuous coverage, backup, scalability, resilience and high-quality video are all necessary in both situations.

¨The majority of our systems operate in highly stressed environments where information content and availability are paramount,〃 said Alan Hayes, Managing Director of AMG Systems. ¨Working on the West End camera network, we were acutely aware that we would not only be first in line in helping the authorities manage crowds passing through these major tourist spots, our network would also be in the first line of defense for the capital.〃

Simon Adcock, Managing Director of ATEC said, ¨AMG proved to be the right partner for this important metropolitan wide surveillance scheme. Similarly, there are new security considerations with heightened terrorist threats necessitating ever more sophisticated and reliable surveillance systems. The advanced capability of AMGˇs Vision Series allows Westminster to meet these needs and be sure that it can continue to keep its streets safe in the years to come.〃

Safecity Moscow

Todayˇs municipal security goes beyond the monitoring of selected sites. Modern integrated security systems must not only record and stream video, but analyze it intelligently, monitor all types of sensors and provide automatic responses.

SafeCity combines hardware, software and operational measures to provide video security, technical safety, and manage utilities and other distributed services. SafeCity is a multifunctional expandable solution built on an integrated modular distributed platform  Axxon Intellect  with embedded intelligent data analysis.

Key Challenges

High crime rates, as well as a hostage situation at the Dubrovka Theater Center, threatened Moscow. Two-thirds of its residents felt unsafe in the face of crime. As a result, the city launched a program called Safety for Moscow and Muscovites. A city-wide electronic monitoring and response system was a critical part of this program, with specific requirements such as interoperability, centralized and remote control, scalability, integration, reliability and stability.


In March 2002, Planir Holdings Group worked on the SafeCity project in the Tverskoy district, using Axxon Intellect. Other districts launched projects based on alternative platforms, but were less functional. As a result, Axxon Intellect was selected as Moscowˇs citywide platform.

Initially SafeCity was to cover Moscow with a distributed video surveillance network. Additional considerations prompted a more comprehensive, multilevel system. SafeCity also protects sites such as group dwellings, life support systems, schools, mass circulation areas, airports and railway stations, trains and subways, transportation and motorways, and television towers.

The SafeCity implementation included more than 26,000 cameras in Moscow, along with controlling more than 10,000 doorways and mass circulation areas in 10 districts. These sites are now covered by a single system controlled from one center, using the Axxon Intellect platform.

Vandal-resistant cameras monitor public areas, while access control prevents unauthorized entry. Flood, fire and smoke sensors alert emergency personnel of problems. Water, gas and electricity consumption are monitored to provide accurate billing and planning, as well as preventing leakage, overloads and short circuits.

Panic buttons and emergency hotlines provide access to the police and militia. Facial recognition enables identification and tracking of criminal suspects at airports and railway stations.

Train and subway safety is ensured through video surveillance, as well as a permanent online link between drivers and transport police officers. All stations and cars are equipped with firefighting systems, such as automatic fog scanners and ventilation units.

PTZ cameras on motorways assist the police in resolving accident disputes, and surveillance of parking and business centers reduces theft. If vehicles are stolen, license plate recognition at key roads enables police to locate them.


According to the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of Moscow, the SafeCity implementation has reduced burglaries and vandalism  drops of 12.5 percent and 33 percent respectively in the first six months of operation.

Crime-solving rates have also increased. Alexander Chumachenko, Deputy Executive of Moscow Main Internal Affairs Directorate, said, ¨The presence of CCTV cameras makes people more disciplined and provides an excellent deterrent to crime.〃

Implementation uncovered other unseen benefits. The government can now monitor the quality of work from utility service providers. Building control systems allow for personnel management, leading to more accurate accounting and technical supervision. And the number of actual residents can be calculated from utility resource usage  useful for checking migration law and tax compliance.

SafeCity was recognized at the InterPolyTech 2004 International Exhibition with a ¨Guaranteed Quality and Safety〃 nomination diploma ¨for the development of the SafeCity digital integrated security system as the basis of the centralized citywide video monitoring solution in Moscow.〃

The Future

SafeCity will soon incorporate the Auto-Intellect subsystem, which provides traffic control and automated license plate recognition. Ian Yafayev, SafeCity CTO, said Auto-Intellect is ¨a very effective tool to deal with traffic congestion."

All doorways in Moscow will be equipped with cameras by 2007 as well. Deployments of SafeCity in other cities include a rollout in St. Petersburg.

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