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Over recent months, Roadphone NRB have designed and installed a variety of shopwatch ‘community radio’ installations in towns and cities across the country.
Such solutions enable local shop, pub or restaurant owners to purchase or rent their own radio. This in turn then enables them to talk to other users on the network, effectively sharing information about local crime, disorder or other issues.
As one of the country’s leading crime reduction initiatives, the schemes are supported by local police. Many of the shopwatch radio networks are monitored by police or volunteer-led control rooms, and often local police community support officers (PCSO’s) are equipped with a radio to enable them to talk directly to the shops, improving efficiency and reducing delay.
At Roadphone NRB, we recognise that one of the key requirements for a shopwatch radio is simplicity; we need to allow shop and business owners to focus on running their business, yet ensure their radio network is simple to access when required.
In many scenarios, our chosen solution has been to use Hytera PD365 handportable radios (shown left). This lightweight, small-scale radio has an incredible battery life, and features crystal-clear audio to rival any other radio on the market.
The radio is compatible with a wide range of accessories, including earpieces which are ideal for security guards. The detachable belt clip is popular with police and security officers who are constantly on patrol, whilst its simple, intuitive design makes it easy to operate by all.
The handportable radio is, however, only part of the solution. We need to ensure coverage across the whole Shopwatch area, be that a small village, town or city. To achieve this, our team conduct coverage tests and identify the most suitable place to locate a repeater.
A standard digital repeater will provide two channels of communication, and whilst the first is often used for the shopwatch scheme, the second can frequently be utilised for the organisation of local events, with organisers able to hire in radios from National Radio Bank which are compatible with the existing infrastructure.
Control room solutions are also a big consideration. For a recent installation in Spalding and Boston, South Lincolnshire, a multi-site solution was deployed, with each town having its own repeater site. The two towns were then linked back to the control room via the internet, with a Hytera SmartDispatch console enabling the controllers to respond to users on the ground. This also offers additional functionality, such as the ability to stun and kill a lost or stolen radio, and also to ‘patch’ the two towns together, which would be useful during a major event encompassing the two locations.
For many the cost of two-way radio technology can be a prohibitive factor when trying to establish a Shopwatch scheme. There are, however, many ways we can help to make two-way radio systems more affordable; trade-in offers against existing equipment is just one way of making the solution more attractive.
There is, of course, more to a Shopwatch scheme than the two-way radios powering it. It’s about increasing community engagement and awareness to reduce retail crime and anti-social behaviour. Roadphone NRB have helped to support these aims in the past by attending meetings with key stakeholders, and by creating marketing material and literature to educate the community about the benefits of the scheme.
Want to integrate Shopwatch in your local area? Call the team today on 01778 421250.
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