Creating a safe environment for patients, staff and visitors is a constant challenge throughout the National Health Service (NHS) and particularly so within mental health facilities. With that in mind, 19 Mental Health Units located throughout the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s estate have been equipped with IP network-based video monitoring systems.
The safety of its staff, patients and visitors is fundamentally important to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which currently provides care for over 40,000 people across the Norfolk and Suffolk region who have mental health problems and offers a range of specialist services dedicated to the care and recovery of anyone experiencing mental ill-health or suffering from substance misuse issues.
Although some of the Mental Health Units are secure, the majority allow the free movement of patients. On that basis, the Trust’s management team has looked to source the latest advances in video monitoring technology to alert nursing and support staff such that they can react quickly and appropriately to any situation where there may be a problem.
“We’re fully committed to the ‘Safewards’ initiative, a key aim of which is to reduce the rates of conflict within in-patient mental health settings,” said Mark Milliard, capital projects manager at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. “We believe that the use of smart technology, such as IP network-based video monitoring systems, can play a large role in helping us achieve this objective.”
Migrating from analogue to Video-over-IP
Over recent years, Milliard – who has worked within NHS Estates since 1986 – has overseen migration of the Trust’s analogue CCTV systems to Video-over-IP solutions.
“The analogue systems that were installed a number of years ago became increasingly unreliable and we made the decision to upgrade them with IP network-based systems,” explained Milliard. “A key advantage of being able to transmit images over the network is that it provides the flexibility for any authorised end user to view live or recorded video captured by any of the cameras from their PCs. We realised that this would provide us with much more flexibility in terms of how we monitor activity at the mental health units when compared to the analogue CCTV systems which could only transmit captured images to a central location.”
In compliance with the Trust’s obligation to achieve best value from its investment in new technology, Milliard initiated a tender process and invited a number of installation companies to submit proposals to install and service video monitoring systems at each of the 19 locations. The tender document specified which cameras should be installed.
“It made sense to source the cameras from just one manufacturer and, from an ongoing maintenance point of view, to deploy the minimum possible number of different camera models,” added Milliard. “I decided to carry out my own research as to which manufacturer had a product portfolio which could best cover all our requirements, as well as offering us the value we were looking for. Part of the value formulae had to include a rock solid reputation for reliability, as well as cameras with advanced technical features which would allow us to capture and monitor high definition images regardless of the location or environmental conditions.”
Image quality and camera configuration
Milliard’s extensive evaluation of a large number of manufacturers resulted in a shortlist of two, from which Samsung Techwin emerged as the winner.
“Both shortlisted companies were able to show evidence as to the reliability of their cameras,” explained Milliard. “However, I was particularly impressed with the quality of the images which could be captured by the Samsung Techwin cameras and the fact that each camera, depending on its location, could be configured to multi-stream images at different frame rates and at different resolutions. This offers a significant benefit from a network bandwidth management point of view.”
Milliard established that only three Samsung Techwin cameras would need to be specified to provide coverage of areas both inside and outside all 19 mental health units. All three models are part of the Samsung Techwin WiseNetIII camera range and include the SNV-6084R vandal-resistant 2 Megapixel Full HD network dome camera, which has built-in IR LEDs to enable images of any activity to be captured regardless of the lighting conditions.
Milliard also selected the SNO-6084R weather-resistant bullet cameras equipped with a motorised varifocal lens and built-in IR (infrared) illuminators.
The third model to be specified was the SNV-6012 2 Megapixel Full HD vandal-resistant flat dome camera.
Installation in phases
The installation of IP network-based video surveillance systems at the 19 mental health units has been carried out in phases and, following the completion of a tender process, the contract for phase three of the project was awarded to Ipswich-based ACW Electrical Suffolk.
“We were obviously delighted to have been entrusted to fulfil such an important contract,” said Tony Wheatley, a director of the company. “We sourced the Samsung Techwin products from Blue Helix, who are a leading specialist distributor of IP network solutions. We worked closely together with the Blue Helix technical team to ensure we could complete the project to the satisfaction of Mark Milliard and his colleagues.”
Wheatley added: “As this was the first time we had installed Samsung Techwin cameras, we arranged for our engineers to attend a Samsung Techwin training course so that they would be able to configure each camera for optimum performance. The good news is that the cameras were extremely easy to install, which added to our ability to complete the contract without any delays or issues.”
Local control for the NVRs
Images from all of the cameras are recorded by Samsung Techwin SRN-1670D NVRs. These have been designed to have the look and familiarity of a DVR while delivering all the benefits of a network video recorder.
Unlike most NVRs, which can only be programmed remotely, the SRN-1670D may be locally controlled with the help of a mouse and a very easy to use on-screen display.
The SRN-1670D has the capacity for five SATA HDDs, offering the potential for a massive 10 Tb of on-board storage. It can record audio across all channels and has a built-in DVD writer and USB ports for easy export of video evidence.