Castle Mall shopping centre goes digital with Radio Links
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The Norwich-based Castle Mall shopping centre has transitioned to a Hytera digital radio communications system with help from Radio Links, an authorised Hytera dealer.

Located near to Norwich Castle in the heart of the city centre, Castle Mall features 80 shops, a sprawling food hall, an eight-screen multiplex cinema and two multi-story car parks.

With four of its five levels underground, 371,000 square feet to cover and an annual footfall that exceeds ten million, ensuring the safety and security of both shoppers and employees was a top priority for management but presented a range of challenges.

The smooth and safe running of the shopping centre is reliant on multiple teams being able to communicate instantly and efficiently across the large site – something that the mall’s outdated analogue system was failing to deliver.

Castle Mall had two issues it was looking to resolve. Major changes to the shopping mall site had resulted in loss of radio signal in many areas, increased numbers of communication blackspots and noisy and intermittent radio communications.

An unreliable comms network where there are inherent health and safety risks could potentially result in teams not receiving messages during critical emergency procedures. It was therefore essential to management that all Castle Mall shopping centre staff could contact one another and communicate across the whole site instantly at any given time.

Secondly, the existing set-up provided limited capacity, with only one channel available to accommodate both the maintenance and security teams. This would sometimes lead to the channel being busy when important information needed to be communicated within the security group.

Castle Mall also expressed a need to be able to centralise and control communications on site and record all radio communications through a central PC based Dispatcher console. This functionality would allow the Shopping Mall managers to better coordinate their teams across the site, and record radio communications for any incident investigations.

To provide a ‘Control Hub’ and extend the communication range to provide full two-way radio coverage across the site Cambridgeshire-based Radio Links Communications installed a brand new Hytera digital radio communications system.

Using Hytera repeater base stations at opposite ends of the site, and linking them over an IP network, Radio Links provided the full site coverage required, and using this new digital technology, two voice channels on each repeater meant that the mall’s security and maintenance teams would both have their own channels.

Additionally, a PC based Hytera Smart Dispatch console in the control suite, connected to the same IP network, provided voice recording as well as much more. With Smart Dispatch, the Management Team can send text messages to single or multiple radio handsets. Smart Dispatch also provides a log of which staff members were working with radio registration for both accountability and safety.

When choosing to upgrade their radio estate, Castle Mall also had to take into consideration the needs of multiple departments and user groups. A handportable radio with a digital display was a necessity for both management and security teams as they wanted to be able to send and receive discreet SMS text messages.

To accommodate this, Radio Links supplied 11 Hytera PD665 radios – featuring a full colour display, and the ability to make individual or group calls via the radio contact list, as well as emergency all call broadcasts. These small sleek and lightweight radios are the perfect pairing for those on long shifts, while five Man Down-enabled Hytera PD665G handsets were provided to provide additional support for lone workers. These Hytera digital radios are also extremely robust and durable, provide full site coverage with excellent audio quality, come with long-lasting lithium-ion batteries and are very easy to use. An additional 10 Hytera PD565 handsets were provided, which feature a compact design and were designed with cost-sensitive customers in mind.

Castle Mall is now equipped with a fully operational, integrated digital radio communication system. Its staff have been very impressed by the much improved and reliable coverage, the instant communications and flexibility, as well as the functionality offered by the lightweight yet rugged radio handsets.

The biggest gains however, have been in terms of health and safety. With Lone Worker and Man Down functionality, centrally monitored through the dispatcher, the management team is now completely confident that should any member of staff need assistance, they will be able to communicate and respond instantly.

Marcus Green, security manager at Interserve, which provides security services to Castle Mall, said: "I felt the service I received from Radio Links, from my initial inquiry through to installation of our new system was extremely good. Radio Links listened to what we required from a radio system and the issues that we were experiencing with our current one. They tailored a system to meet our requirements at a very competitive price. The work was carried out quickly by knowledgeable engineers, who ensured the system was working correctly before handing it over to us. This was followed up a couple of days later to ensure everything was still working".


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Supporting Information

Related Companies:

Hytera Communications UK Ltd
Radio Links Communication Ltd
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