Effective emergency communication at Bluewater
A state-of-the-art CSE Chatterbox Alarm Location Monitoring (CALM+) digital radio system enables Bluewater to discreetly communicate alerts to stores, restaurants and Bluewater staff throughout the centre via messaging.
The system combines technologies into one handheld radio unit allowing voice and text messaging and integrating the centre’s existing Global System for Messaging (GSM)
Land Securities is the largest commercial property company in the UK. It owns and manages more than 26 million sq. ft. of property, including office and retail accommodation, retail parks, shopping centres and leisure destinations.
Bluewater, the UK’s leading retail and leisure destination, is the premier retail destination in Land Securities’ portfolio. The centre totals 1.8 million sq. ft. and offers guests over 300 retailers and places to eat plus a Showcase Cinema de Lux and a number of permanent and seasonal leisure activities.
The health and safety of staff and guests at Bluewater is paramount to Land Securities.
Bluewater has three key communication systems designed to ensure the smooth running of the site and ensure a quick and effective response to all health and safety incidents:
- Facilities management company Incentive FM, which handles security, parking, cleaning etc. at Bluewater, requires a two-way radio system to co-ordinate its staff.
- To communicate with retailers’ staff, Bluewater operates a shop safe scheme.
- To communicate simultaneously with all relevant parties, in emergency situations etc., Bluewater has Everbridge Mass Notification.
Integrating Everbridge with the radios of both user groups systems was a key driver for Land Securities in specifying a new two-way radio system.
Integrating with Everbridge
Bluewater’s CALM+ two-way radio system integrates with proprietary emergency and mass notification software. This type of application is a first for Chatterbox.
Bluewater uses Everbridge (previously iModus) primarily for sending out regular information updates to staff and retailers. The original system used the SMS text service to mobile telephones and some email clients.
Bluewater management wanted to remove the need for messages to be sent only to mobile phones, using digital radio messaging primarily but retaining the option of communicating by mobile phone and email if required.
CALM+ integrates with the Everbridge software and makes messaging to radios possible. Users are grouped together by function. Messages, text and audio, can therefore be sent to individuals, groups or all radios. The means of transmission can also be selected as required.
The integration of the CALM+ and Everbridge offers several benefits:
- Bluewater’s Everbridge database holds over 750 mobile phone numbers, including private numbers of staff, which previously all had to be kept up to date. With radio as the primary method for communicating Everbridge messages the number of numbers it is necessary for the system to hold has been substantially reduced to key management numbers.
- It is policy amongst many retailers to not allow mobile phones on the sales floor, other than for management. The two-way radios are therefore often the main or only source of communication for shop floor staff. The Everbridge interface with the radios ensures that these radio users receive all relevant communications immediately in a text format.
- In addition to critical communications the system can be used to provide general information about incidents which may affect visitors, e.g. traffic accident on the M25, where sharing the information may provide an improved experience for guests.
- In a crisis situation, Everbridge provides one credible source of information reducing the risk of misinformation and facilitating a more effective response.
- The system may provide communication when, or if, mobile and wireless networks are compromised, particularly as the infrastructure is off premises making it less likely to be affected in a serious incident.
- As two-way radios are left at work, staff are not bombarded by unnecessary messages when not at work as they may be when mobile phones provide the main form of contact.
On a Saturday near Christmas Bluewater will attract thousands of people with a high per capita expenditure. Minimising the impact of bogus and minor incidents on guests and business at Bluewater is important at any time but at these peak times it is crucial. If the area of an incident can be quickly identified and communicated and it is possible to safely avoid a total evacuation, visitors do not need to be disrupted and loss of potential sales can be minimised.
CALM+ beacons are uniquely arranged to minimise disruption to unaffected areas.
7 Benefits of Bluewater’s CALM+ System
The CALM+ system has delivered seven key health and safety benefits.
1. Integration of a third party system.
In this case the Everbridge emergency notification system but CALM+ can also integrate with fire and intruder panels, building management systems and SCADA systems to transmit alerts to radio users etc.
2. Personal Emergency Alarms
Radio users can raise an alert by pressing a panic button, and all the radios are programmed for Man Down or Lone Worker. The system centres the visual display map on the relevant radio users location and automatically redirects CCTV cameras to that area, and it can transmit the alarm to other radios and mobile devices. All this should ensure a prompt and effective response.
3. Location Monitoring
Radio users movements are monitored in real time on screen via beacons inside the centre and by GPS externally. This allows staff to be deployed effectively, for example sending the nearest cleaner to a spillage or coordinating staff during an evacuation.
4. Records and Reports
The system records voice communications and staff movements. This data can be used for monitoring staff performance, training and as evidence of due diligence e.g. in ‘slip and trip’ claims.
5. Priority Interrupt
Management will be able to interrupt all voice communications on a channel to relay crucial information to all radio users simultaneously.
The CALM+ system enables us to ensure we have clear channels of communication in all emergency situations enabling us to provide a quick and coordinated response to our Staff, Retailers and Guests.
Mark De’Ath, Property Operations Manager
6. Remote Access
Authorised staff can access the Bluewater CALM+ system remotely when off site or away from the control room. Chatterbox can also access the system remotely to provide support and maintenance, enabling problems to be resolved quickly and saving on unnecessary site visits.
7. Business Continuity
The infrastructure is not located in the centre making it less likely to be affected in a serious incident. Managers can access the system remotely during an evacuation, and track staff via GPS. Should Land Securities choose to in future it is possible to network the system to other sites to provide alternative control centres.
This (CALM+ system) provides a significantly enhanced communication system here at Bluewater in an environment that is becoming more and more security biased.
Mark De’Ath, Property Operations Manager
- Hytera XPT – dynamically reassigns channel capacity to ensure voice and data being sent to and from the digital radio handsets is automatically assigned free communication slots, maximising resource and ensuring instant delivery.
- A PC in the control room which shows location for location monitoring, alarm handling etc.
- 388 Hytera PD785G hand portable keypad radios for retailers
- 150 Hytera X1p hand portable keypad radios for Incentive FM, supplied with earpieces. Every user has their own ear piece; all are replaced annually
- 250 locator beacons using an industry wireless network standard
The system also supports additional radios for retailers.
Design and Delivery
Delivery of Bluewater’s bespoke CALM+ system comprised four key stages:
survey, design, installation and training.
The system is supplied under a managed service contract, which covers everything other than physical damage to the radios, and includes on-going support.
After the initial training phase of CSE Chatterbox staff being on site five days a week to provide training and support, a CSE Chatterbox radio engineer attends the site one day a week, in addition to any fault call outs, plus remote support. CSE Chatterbox provides videos on its YouTube channel for reference and training.
CALM+ goes beyond the provision of two-way radio communication to incorporate other functions offered by two-way radios and the systems that can be integrated with them. Solutions are bespoke to each customer and their requirements. Experienced CSE Chatterbox personnel consider the customers existing way of working, listen to their requirements, look at the technology available and build a solution appropriate to the customers business needs.
Thank you to the team at Bluewater for their help in creating this case study.