Secure network, multi-agency control room

Greater Manchester Police – Operation Protector

Greater Manchester Police – Operation Protector

GMP invests in a new secure network and upgraded equipment, centrally managed through a multi-agency control room

Operation Protector – Conservative Party Conference 2021

This was a complex security and public order operation, requiring a high degree of multi-agency partnership, where technology was key to giving the force the information they needed.

The Conservative Party conference 2021 was held in Manchester and saw thousands of extra people enter the city. Although a political event, its temporary role as the seat of government means the Home Office requires an additional level of security to be maintained throughout, adding complexity to the role of Greater Manchester Police. Operation Protector was launched to oversee the safety and security of large-scale political events like this. Security needs to be 100 per cent functional and resilient from the outset and duration of the event.

Tellemachus (now called Bedroq) works with Greater Manchester Police, providing a managed service designed to improve surveillance and communications, to make better use of resources and ultimately enable faster decision making during major incidents, terrorist attacks, protection of government and the general public. Operation Protector is part of this remit, as are all major events in the city including the recent ‘Park Life’ festival attended by 80,000 people.

Outdated legacy equipment

As part of their preparation for Operation Protector, GMP reviewed their existing technology and recognised that it was in need of upgrade. The legacy surveillance equipment was no longer supported, analogue, and often gave poor quality outputs. Thousands of cameras are already in place across the city of Manchester, but these are owned and run by multiple different agencies. A lack of integration between the CCTV systems meant that information had to be passed between the agencies and the GMP by phone, adding critical time to incident response.

Scoping, design, and testing

From the outset, Tellemachus (Bedroq) was there to support GMP with all aspects of the planning and implementation of Operation Protector. This began with detailing the technical requirements of the operation, along with understanding the potential source and impact of security breaches. Tellemachus (Bedroq) engineers conducted a number of detailed site surveys to assess vulnerabilities and map areas of concern according to risk and impact. The solution was then designed and tested against these operational requirements.

Timescale and supply chain challenges

As Operation Protector related to a fixed date event there was no room for manoeuvre in getting the solution implemented in time. Deployment was further complicated by worldwide supply chain issues, which meant that some of the equipment that had originally been built into designs was simply not available. The design and equipment specification was changed at short notice to accommodate this with no loss of functionality or quality of output.

“Various factors beyond our control combined to make this one of the most time-constrained projects I’ve worked on in years, however with great team effort we succeeded” – Matt Wood, Technical Director

As the managed security service provider to GMP, Tellemachus (Bedroq) also had to coordinate the activities and requirements of other specialist agencies through collaboration and relationship building. This enabled a new level of coordination that meant shared technology could be centrally managed through the multi-agency Control Room.

Implementation

Infrastructure was built

  • The location of the conference was made into an ‘island site’ with physical security such as barriers complemented by electronic security designed and installed by Tellemachus.
  • Vulnerable parts of the site were protected by a combination of new fixed and temporary infrastructure installed on existing street lighting, building locations and mobile towers.
  • Video motion detection within the CCTV cameras was linked to automated analytics to detect and report when any movement was detected within a restricted area.
  • Feeds from multiple CCTV networks owned by other agencies were combined into a single security network, this combined with 40 new high-resolution cameras provided the GMP staff with access to over 250 potential viewpoints.
  • Networks were configured with air gaps to prevent the transfer of sensitive data in either direction unless specifically required for the operation.
  • All rigging and installation was carried out by our engineers.

Controlled centrally

  • Built a multi-agency centrally managed control room in GMP HQ under the jurisdiction of the Chief Constable
  • GMP operators able to remotely access and take control of all camera feeds that they required
  • Clearly documented demarcation of roles and responsibilities between agencies, allowing the operation to run smoothly and any problems to be solved quickly and efficiently

Onsite project management

  • Tellemachus (Bedroq) engineers were onsite 24/7 for the duration of the event
  • Our team coordinated the activities and contributions of other specialist suppliers

Outcome – quality and control

Staff within the control room noticed an immediate improvement in the quality of the feeds they were receiving, along with having the ability to select and manage individual cameras across the network that hadn’t been possible previously. This meant that the right resources could be sent quickly to any incidents, increasing response time and avoiding unnecessary over-deployment.

Visual verification of incident reports reduced radio frequency traffic and increased speed of response, giving GMP the support they needed to handle this complex security and public order operation. Tellemachus (Bedroq) continues to work with GMP, providing the security and IT networking they require to support their ongoing operations.

‘The legacy of Operation Protector is that the technology we’ve put in will be used to support and police other events in Manchester, giving GMP the information they need to respond to incidents quickly and improving public safety’ – Matt Wood, Technical Director