New generation prison security system

A state-of-the-art prison control room system featuring virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies has been unveiled at the HM Prison Service Training College near Rugby.

Developed by Servelec from an original concept invented by the prison service, the system, named Panoptes, has been designed to make it easier and faster for control room staff to monitor the security of establishments and respond to any situations that might arise.

The prototype of the integrated system is now reaching the end of a three-month trial acceptance and is expected that work will soon start on planning its roll out into Britain’s largest prisons. The first should be operational within a year.

Panoptes, which uses artificial intelligence technology and incorporates Superscape’s virtual reality system, provides a much improved and flexible working environment for control room staff.

Each Panoptes workstation features three screens. One shows video taken from CCTVs, another displays a virtual reality environment that recreates the entire infrastructure and layout of the establishment, and the third contains the main operator control system (OCS).

The OCS displays a map of the prison and automatically highlights the whereabouts of incidents and events. Staff also use this screen to control remote devices attached to the system and identify actions they should take to handle a range of situations.

Checklists ordering the priorities of each task are displayed on screen, limiting the chance of any oversights by control room staff and ensuring best practice is used when staff are dealing with a situation.

‘Panoptes streamlines the whole control room operation, providing better working practice and conditions for our staff,’ says Alan Lindfield, head of research and analysis unit at the Prison Service.

‘This ensures that we can make maximum use of all resources, both in terms of people and equipment to better handle any situation that might arise in our prisons.

‘In the event of serious security issues, the Prison Service’s national operations unit based in London will also be able to access all the latest information and images from any prison using this system.’

The Windows NT-based system implemented at the training college is running on Compaq servers and incorporates a 32Gb RAID storage solution. It is a dual server system, ensuring high availability even in the event of a computer failure.