New CCTV security systems able to monitor document use more efficiently

  • The UK’s National Archives needed a more efficient way of monitoring the safe use of the historical documents they house, in order to better maintain them for future generations.
  • West London Security designed comprehensive CCTV security systems based on 58 static and 41 pan, tilt and zoom cameras monitored from a control room with four 42” plasmas and four 20” LCD monitors.
  • Work was completed quickly and efficiently, allowing the CCTV installation full coverage of the Archives’ reading rooms at all times during the migration from old to new system.

The client – The National Archives, Kew

The National Archives building is based in Kew and houses over 1,000 years of UK history, from the Doomsday Book to recently created digital files. When historical government records are made public, the National Archives provides access to them. Once registered, members of the public are able to visit the building and access any documents they require.

In 2007, the Archives building underwent a change, with the Family Records Centre moving from Islington into its premises to create the largest collection of UK historical documents in the country. With this change came the need to install a commercial CCTV security system to protect the thousands of priceless and irreplaceable documents the Archives hold.

Requirements – new CCTV security systems able to monitor more efficiently

The National Archives needed CCTV security systems comprehensive enough to effectively manage the safe use of their historic documents. Previously, they had a much smaller CCTV installation, which meant they were heavily reliant on staff walking around the reading rooms in order to keep an eye on the documents.

The Family Record Centre moving into the building provided an opportunity to install brand new CCTV security systems that could monitor use of the documents more efficiently. Most of the CCTV installation was therefore required within the reading room, mounted above the reading tables and the camera stands where the public are able to photograph documents.

Our solution – Panasonic CCTV security system with 99 camera CCTV installation

West London Security designed a complete Panasonic CCTV security system with a total of 58 static cameras and 41 pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras. The old CCTV installation relied solely on PTZ cameras, but the combination of the two allows staff a general view of what’s happening with the ability to bring the PTZ into play if they see something of concern.

The PTZ cameras were mounted directly above the document stands so that the documents being inspected in the reading rooms can be clearly seen at all times by staff in the CCTV security control room. The quality of the images and zoom lens on the PTZ makes the invigilation of the documents much easier.

There are still staff within the reading rooms, but they’re smaller in number than in the past. In the dedicated control room, four 42” plasmas and four 20” LCD monitors are controlled via two WJ-CU650 Panasonic joystick keyboard controllers. If a problem is spotted on screen, a member of staff in the reading room can be alerted via radio to deal with the issue.

Results – CCTV installation of new system ensured continuity of coverage

CCTV camera installation was completed in two stages, with the old and new CCTV security systems working together at the crossover stage to ensure the Archive’s security team were never without coverage. All the cabling for the new Panasonic CCTV camera installation was installed over Christmas, during a shutdown period of one and a half weeks.

The new CCTV security systems have allowed staff to monitor the use of the archived material more effectively and efficiently than ever before, in ways that were previously impossible. Security and Operations Manager Jack Lincoln commented: “Overall it’s a very pleasing situation. We now have a very effective tool here for invigilating and keeping the documents safe.”

Read more from WLS:

“Our customers tell us it’s our people that set us apart.”

Get in Touch