Isle of Wight ferry operator Red Funnel has completed a complex CCTV camera project which has had a major impact not only on safety and security but also on operations
Red Funnel ferries has hit the headlines in recent times thanks to the launch of its latest fast ferry, Red Jet 6, and the refurbishment of the majority of its fleet – but behind the scenes it has been quietly working on a project to boost security. And what started as a safety initiative has blossomed into a solution that embraces operations as well.
Last year the UK ferry operator installed a shore-based IP CCTV camera network covering its four ferry terminals and car park. There are currently 116 cameras in operation. They are continually recording and enable Red Funnel to retain full control of passenger safety, as well as serving as protection against any vandalism or criminal activity that could occur across any of the sites.
Explaining the need to install and standardise the cameras used, Red Funnel’s head of safety, risk and security Richard Watts told Passenger Ship Technology: “Our use of cameras was limited before. We had old fashioned video recorders covering the ticket desks and the odd vending machine. It was ad hoc. There was no proper system.”
A few problems began to occur at the terminals, which meant that it became an important objective for Red Funnel to install a more sophisticated, standardised system. “We started off looking at it as a safety and security project. The two went hand in hand.”
Mr Watts said that they started to experience some “high jinks” after people went on nights out, at the Red Funnel terminals in Cowes and Southampton. He said there was no violence but the escapades were going against the ferry terminals’ safety rules. “There were vendor machine break-ins, and as a dare people were jumping from the walkway and landing onto ferries. Safety was our focus here. We did not want injuries,” explained Mr Watts.
Furthermore, Red Funnel had received insurance claims for trips and falls. “We had no way of knowing what had actually happened. CCTV would assist us in investigating the cause,” said Mr Watts.
The other main reason for installing CCTV was that local police needed evidence to be able to prosecute individuals for any damage to the terminals. This was not possible with just the odd video camera placed here and there.
Red Funnel decided to appoint a company to manage the project, from helping to choose the equipment to installing it. The operator chose Trellisworks, a UK company specialising in wireless connectivity and IP CCTV, for reasons that included its collaborative approach and its strong after-sales service.
“We had ideas about what we wanted – something that we could use for prosecution and to allow us to see what was going on at night. But we did not have the technical know-how,” said Mr Watts.
Trellisworks put together a plan after several meetings with Red Funnel and the two companies looked at a number of camera models before choosing the Axis camera brand. Trellisworks managing director Jim Kernahan, who worked on the Red Funnel project, explained: “We have worked with Axis many times and regard it as the market leader in IP CCTV camera solutions.”
The models chosen were:
*Axis M1125-E, which is a static camera and has been installed across all of Red Funnel’s sites. It is an external fixed static camera, which is used for day and night images.
*Axis M3026-VE, which is a dome camera and, again, has been installed across all of Red Funnel’s sites. It is an internal fixed dome camera, which has been used to cover entrances, exits and vulnerable areas identified by Red Funnel.
*Axis M3027-PVE, which is a fisheye camera. This has been used internally and is good at covering large areas, such as the cafe at Terminal 1 in Southampton.
*Axis P1435-LE, which is a bullet camera. Three of these are being used at Red Funnel’s main office in Southampton.
The plan was to start with 70 to 80 cameras, but as the project progressed more cameras were needed and the total increased. It now stands at 116, excluding those installed on the ferries themselves.
Mr Watts noted that one of the advantages of using Trellisworks was that it came up with solutions for arranging the cabling for the cameras, which was complex. “We had a problem with the Triangle car park, as it is more than 300m from the main terminal. This posed the problem of how to transmit the images from the car park to the terminal. This was overcome with the use of a wireless system.
“There were other difficulties that meant using existing underground ducts in the yard area to reach the location of some of the cameras, as well as the routeing of the cables in the terminal. This was all able to take place while we were still fully operational and without causing any problems for our customers.”
The new cameras fit smoothly into Red Funnel’s plans to upgrade its terminals. The plans for Southampton include combining the vehicle ferry, the high-speed terminals and the company’s head office – all currently separate – into one new purpose-built terminal facility in the port of Southampton. This will provide more marshalling space for vehicles and state-of-the-art facilities for passengers, and will be much more efficient.
Over at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the company is planning to relocate its marshalling area to an adjacent site, which is larger and more efficient to operate. It will reduce congestion on local roads at peak times by separating ferry traffic from town and floating bridge traffic. Its plans for a new passenger terminal will be the subject of a planning inquiry in July.
“CCTV technology moves fast and there is more we can do. We will look at adding more cameras or changing the model that we have got.” Richard Watts (Red Funnel)
The CCTV scheme started as a safety and security programme but has developed into much more, expanding into the operational department. Previously operational staff simply watched through the window to monitor cars queuing up to go on the ferry. But now they can use the cameras and see much more clearly, in real time, where there are gaps in the queues, and allow the movement of vehicles to fill the gaps. “This enables the loading of the ferry to take place much more efficiently and quickly, especially in busy times,” noted Mr Watts.
Red Funnel would like to improve the cameras that are used on board the vessels. “The equipment on board was installed some time ago and is not of the same standard as the shoreside equipment. We would like, at some stage, to upgrade it,” said Mr Watts. “CCTV technology moves fast and there is more we can do. We will look at adding more cameras or changing the model that we have got.” But he emphasised that because the company is busy with other projects, it would be some time before the company did this.
And the system could be developed even further. Mr Kernahan explained how it would be possible to integrate the cameras used on the vessels with the main shoreside system through wireless links. This would mean that recordings could be redirected via the links to shoreside staff. Currently, vessel staff have to look on the cameras to find a certain incident and then manually download the footage and send it ashore.
The new shoreside camera system has another important role. The CCTV can be used as an aid to counter terrorism and to support other services provided by the police. Red Funnel is actively involved in assisting the police and in many ways it acts as “the eyes of the Southampton and the Isle of Wight police,” according to Mr Watts.
He elaborated: “Red Funnel terminals are in the middle of the port. We have cruise liners on each side of us as well as the Fawley oil refinery. While we are not under the same security banner as them, as we operate under free movement, we remain vigilant and recognise the key role we can play in countering terroris
m . ”