A state of the art, multi-purpose centre hailed as ‘world class’ by emergency planning chiefs has opened in Bristol today (Monday 16 October). It brings together some of Bristol’s critical support services and acts as a control centre in the event of a major emergency.
The new centre houses the council’s Emergency Control Centre, Traffic Control Centre and Community Safety (CCTV) Control Rooms together in a single space for the first time. These teams provide essential public safety services that utilise 700 CCTV cameras around the city.
A large part of the facility’s role is to manage the city’s traffic network and monitor the flow of traffic around Bristol, making adjustments to signals and putting diversions in place to keep traffic moving. The centre also provides a place for staff from transport providers to work together with the council’s traffic management team, providing greater reliability in public transport services and more accurate real time information about services.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This new centre represents an investment in the safety of citizens and getting the city moving. The challenges we face to beat congestion, support vulnerable people in their homes and secure safer streets require new approaches and new ways of working. By blending state of the art technology and a collaborative approach to sharing operations we’re taking a positive step towards meeting these challenges.”
In the event of a major emergency incident the centre has the ability to become a tactical and strategic group venue, hosting representatives from emergency services and other organisations to plan and co-ordinate the response to that incident.
Andrew Everitt, Head of Exercising at the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College, said: “Bristol City Council is determined to ensure that their crisis and business continuity management processes are entirely consistent with national best practice.
“The new operations centre in Bristol is world class and provides an enviable facility for diverse responder organisations to work together in managing all types of incidents and events, from response through to recovery. Its multi-functional nature will also ensure that responder organisations have enhanced capabilities at their finger- tips. Interoperability sits at the core of good emergency management and this new facility has been designed with this in mind.
“The Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College continues to work with Bristol City Council to ensure that their key managers are fully conversant in crisis management best practice and methodology. Some events across the UK this year have thrown a spotlight on the true level of preparedness of responder organisations to work together quickly from the initial response through to recovery phases of a major incident or event this new facility evidences Bristol City Council’s commitment to step up in support of their communities.
The centre has already proven valuable in managing emergency incidents, event response and co-ordination. These examples have involved multi-agency working, co-ordinating responses from transport providers, emergency services and Council departments.
The Mayor continued: “Collaboration is critical if we’re to better manage the city and respond to the needs of people across Bristol. Our partners in health, police, fire and rescue, transport providers and other sectors will make use of the centre to co-ordinate our response to issues when they arise, making sure the right decisions are taken when action is needed.”
The centre operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. It provides a list of services including emergency response to telecare and assistive technology users, alarm and security monitoring, lone worker support, CCTV management, traffic signal monitoring, set up and review of traffic signals and many others.
The breadth of what the centre covers is vast with over 200 junctions monitored, almost 40 traffic and information signs managed, 46,500 welfare and telecare calls handled every month, and specialist staff working around the clock managing the CCTV network of 700 cameras.
To manage the range of services provided, the centre has been built around an advanced communication platform that links into the city’s high speed fibre network. The link to this high speed network will also allow the centre to explore communications developments that could one day provide services in areas such as health protection, traffic management, waste management and energy monitoring.