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a change, with the Family Records Centre moving from Islington into its premises to create the largest collection of UK historical documents in the country.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 for improved CCTV security systems to protect the thousands of priceless and irreplaceable documents the Archives hold.
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.
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.
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.”
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