Installing a two-way radio system at Westfield LondonArvin Cruz
“EARS plc are the best radio company I’ve ever dealt with.”
– Head of Security, Westfield White City, London, UK
About Westfield London
Westfield London is a shopping centre in White City, London, UK, developed by the Westfield Group. It opened on 30 October 2008, dethroning the Whitgift Centre in Croydon to become the largest covered shopping development in London. After a £600 million retail expansion project which started in 2014, it became the largest shopping centre in Europe in March 2018.
The expansion project consolidated Westfield London’s position as a world-leading retail and entertainment destination; it now has 450 shops across its 150,000 m² ft (1.62 million ft²) retail floor area, featuring the best in fashion, dining, leisure, fitness, events, services and technology – all with the consumer at the heart.
For its 39 million annual visitors, Westfield London has become the premier shopping and leisure destination in Europe. It not only has everything, but it’s also an innovative and dynamic place for a new generation of consumers to shop, eat and meet.
In 2016, during the expansion project, the Westfield team discovered that there were several issues with the centre’s existing communication network: a Kenwood trunked system. The coverage offered by the system did not offer enough radio coverage for the 2.8m² ft shopping centre and, to make matters worse, it couldn’t be expanded and part of the aerial system had fallen over. A site-wide two-way radio system for their security teams would enable them to communicate in real-time, operate at maximum efficiency, respond to emergencies and deliver a seamless service.
To resolve these issues, the Westfield management team needed a two-way radio communication system capable of covering the entire complex, including the event atrium, cinema complex and car park.
Furthermore, the team wanted to add more than 300 portable handheld radios to the centre’s main system to support productions held in the atrium, so the chosen system needed to be expandable, secure and able to integrate with the atrium’s Showcall Production System (a wired intercom network).
It was also important to the Westfield management team that every employee within the centre, including cleaners, security, concierges, parking attendants, had their own profiles programmed into their radios. This would provide each team with its own secure, dedicated channel but also enable employees to call teams on other channels if needed, as well as relay messages and ensure the entire 2.8m² ft shopping centre was covered.
The team narrowed down their choice of brand to Motorola but to deploy all of the above, the Westfield management team knew they needed an experienced and professional radio communications company. The company would need to be able to:
- Attend the site within two hours,
- Have access to the entire Motorola portfolio of products and services,
- Be able to design and implement a system capable of supporting up to 800 portable, handheld radios
- Have a constant supply of more than 300 radios (including accessories such as noise-cancelling headsets)
- And implement and maintain a Shopwatch scheme (site-wide security) for many of the centre’s retail outlets.
Engaging EARS plc
With requirements established, the Westfield management team started looking for a suitable supplier. After a brief search, EARS PLC was recommended to Westfield and the rest, is history.
The Westfield management team engaged EARS plc, asking for help building and implementing a two-way radio system and more than 300 portable, handheld radio units. The system and units combined would enable teams across the site – centre management, security, cleaners, store management, Shopwatch, production staff, parking attendants, concierges and valets – to communicate.
The Two-Way Radio Solution
EARS plc advised the Westfield management team that the best two-way radio system would be a Motorola Capacity Plus system, plus a mixture of handheld units. For managers, production and concierge staff, EARS plc recommended the Motorola DP3441 – a small and compact handheld unit; while for security, cleaning staff and parking attendants, EARS plc recommended the DP44000 – a robust, heavy-duty handheld unit. To ensure these devices could operate flawlessly and all day, EARS plc equipped them with long-life, lightweight lithium batteries. This system would deliver site-wide coverage and unmatched communication capability.
The Motorola Capacity Plus system and supporting radios were implemented over a three-month period, during which the licencing and new aerial system were managed by EARS plc.
To help staff use the system and radios, EARS plc organised several training days for management and the other teams. As for Shopwatch, EARS plc organised sign-up, training and implementation days for the various retail outlets.
Thanks to the new two-way radio system and supporting radios, communication has improved significantly and now covers the entire shopping centre, including the event atrium, cinema and car park. Here are just a few benefits:
- Teams across the site have their own individual radio profiles and can communicate with individuals or teams as and when necessary.
- Production staff and/or third-party production companies have access to more than 300 portable handheld radio units and can seamlessly communicate with the fixed venue system (Showcall).
- Safety and security have improved – the Shopwatch scheme has resulted in a sharp decrease in shoplifting.
- The implementation of noise-cancelling headsets has aided security staff with crowd management, enabling them to communicate in noisy environments (such as when there’s an event).
- All licencing is taken care of by EARS plc, ensuring the system remains compliant with relevant standards.
Dee Barrett-Davies, EARS plc Managing Director, comments: “EARS plc are delighted to supply the latest Motorola Trbo Communications system to Westfield White City. Their state-of-the-art walkie talkies have double the capacity, outstanding Audio quality , twice the battery life and greater coverage. Instant communications where Teams can stay connected anytime / anywhere“.