West Midlands Police is the second largest police force in the country, covering an area of 348 square miles and serving a population of almost 2.6 million. The region sits at the very heart of the country and covers the three major centres of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton. It also includes the busy and thriving districts of Sandwell, Walsall, Solihull and Dudley. Leisure, retail and conference amenities, together with Premiership and Championship football teams, attract millions of visitors annually. Tensor is currently rolling out a huge Smart Card based Access Control, security and Time & Attendance network for the force, involving 15,600 staff and dozens of buildings.
The ambitious undertaking, called The Gateway Project, started in 2008. Commencing installation during 2010, Tensor has implemented around half of the 40 key buildings so far. These include police stations and highly-sensitive sites within the West Midlands area, from Wolverhampton to Coventry. The system is about to go-live at West Midlands Police’s Lloyd House headquarters in Birmingham, where Gateway Programme Manager, Paul Williamson is based.
He revealed that Tensor beat 30 other companies to secure the contract. “Tensor went through the tendering process and they were successful in meeting the criteria documents. There were three main elements; the cost of the system, the ability for the system to be flexible & configurable in a police environment and for it to be highly secure. We wanted a complete physical access system with Time & Attendance”.
Already 60 to 70 administration staff have been trained on the combined Security & Attendance Monitoring system, whilst 15,600 smart cards have been issued to staff. Paul said, “The training has been good and Tensor have done what they said they would”.
The Tensor suite of .NET Time & Security applications as installed at West Midlands Police can be combined with many other modules to provide a single, seamless application to meet the needs of any ‘large scale’ organisation and provide a robust security, identity management and Human Resources solution.
The nature of the project has meant that the Tensor security system has been extensively modified with a large number of customisations making it an ideal off-the-shelf system for the Police, Emergency Services, public sector and large private sector organisations. Paul explained, “Tensor has modified the system in ways in which no other physical access system has had to been done before. This is a truly ground breaking system. Tensor has put together a unique task, and they have done an awfully good job in that. They have risen to the challenge and come up with the goods”.
Paul described how the Smart Cards are being used to both clock in, gain access, and where applicable also as a hi-tech warrant card. “This streamlining is a massive advantage – it was part of the design specification”, he added. The integrated system uses Single Sign-On integrated to Card Management and Access Control. The advanced Access Control system links to several aspects of the existing West Midlands Police infrastructure including the Intruder, Gas & Fire alarm systems. “A few false alarms have gone off but the system has behaved as it should have done,” said Paul.
When asked what he liked most about the new Tensor system, Paul said “It’s the fact that it is a proprietary system that is owned by Tensor and so they have the ability to react really quickly to any problems or modifications that may arise. They have been particularly ‘customer focused’ and have the ability and resources to configure the system personally, which given the size of the project has largely gone in on time and on budget”.
When Paul was asked if he would recommend Tensor to other Police and front line service providers he replied, “Yes, I’d recommend Tensor”, and summing up his overall experience of Tensor he concluded, “I think Tensor’s products are flexible and configurable. The company is small enough to respond quickly to the customer demands but large enough to implement what’s needed in a project of this size”.
West Midlands Police HQ
Tel: 0345 1135000