Finding the right communications system
John Sanson is the general manager of the Grand Arcade shopping centre. He has been involved in the whole project from the outset so he is well-placed to appreciate how good working relationships have contributed to the outstanding success of the Arcade.
He explains how it was recognised at an early stage that communications would be of crucial importance to the safe and efficient running of the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre. The owners of the centre wanted a system which would allow them to have a direct communication link to the tenants – and that it was equally important for the tenants. The management company considered a range of telecommunications options. Not surprisingly, these options offered phone, intercom or PC system – all good in their own way – but the centre was looking for something better
The TAS solution
The TAS solution, developed by cabling experts ACCL, was the answer to their quest. It offers the ability for people to speak – individually or in a group – to send messages instantly and to receive and acknowledge management information – so there is a clear audit trail. With its multi-functionality and flexible options over internet protocol (meaning it is free to operate), TAS offers the centre the best possible means by which to communicate.
From start to finish, the centre took over two years to complete (it opened in 2007) during which ACCL played an active and central role in the planning process for the installation of TAS. A detailed map was drawn up to show where cables would be fitted and as part of the preparations, John Sanson ensured that this information was included in the shop fitting manual which was issued to all the shopfitters. This was done to ensure that there would be the minimum of disruption as ACCL fitted the TAS system. All ACCL had to do was to “make off” the TAS cables at a single unit, ensuring a seamless process from start to finish. John said:
“The smooth installation of the TAS system was something we were extremely pleased with.”
The final product was a two-way communications system: from the centre management to the retailer; from the retailer to centre management. John Sanson explains further:
“Tenant liaison is a major issue for us and for our tenants – to have the ability to communicate swiftly and accurately is a massive thing for all of us. Like all shopping centres, one of the biggest problems we have to deal with is shoplifting.
There are organised gangs, as well as individuals, and they operate throughout the centre. Whenever there is a shoplifting incident, the TAS system comes very much to the fore, as the security team and the police can be informed about the incident in very quick time. This is an important aspect of the TAS system – it not only communicates within the centre, but can alert the police and the town CCTV system via the security controller”
The Grand Arcade currently has 50 retailing tenants and the TAS system is used by all. In the two years that the system has been in place, there have been very few technical issues that have needed be resolved.
“We tend to experience more administrative problems rather than anything technical,” says John Sanson.
“However, whenever we do have some technical glitch, we can rely on ACCL to react to it and resolve it quickly – very often within an hour of the fault being reported. For example, if there is a problem with TAS, ACCL can dial directly into the system, rectify the problem and we are back to full operation within an hour which is excellent news for all of us.”
A cost-effective solution
The TAS system has undoubtedly made cost and efficiency savings – especially in terms of savings in manpower – and is therefore, according to John Sanson, providing excellent value for money.
“Obviously, the biggest saving is in the cost of calls – with TAS, all calls are free. But it is the system’s ability for us to communicate in a joined-up way – where tenants and ourselves can react to situations quickly and efficiently, that has meant that the cost of the system has been covered many times over.”
And a very happy customer
John is very pleased with the service that ACCL provides to the Grand Arcade. The company provides professional technicians who are qualified to the highest standards, and who can be called upon to resolve a problem immediately, and it is this that is an added USP for John Sanson.
“From the very start, we have built an excellent relationship with ACCL. They provide a first-class service, with friendly and professional staff who take a personal interest in the service they provide.”
Perhaps the greatest endorsement of the TAS system comes when John is asked whether he could function without it.
“Well, I suppose we could – but we would function badly. The speed of reaction, the speed of communication, and the service we receive from the experienced ACCL staff, all make TAS an essential part of the smooth running of the centre. TAS gives us over and above what we expect from it – I cannot fault it in any way.”
What does TAS do?
The Tenant Active System was developed to address a growing need for effective communications in major UK shopping malls. TAS delivers cost effective two-way data and voice communications between facilities management and each unit or outlet within a retail or leisure complex. Essential risk management applications such as security alerts share a platform with powerful business applications.
There are benefits for all stakeholders not least being a demonstrably safer environment. Security alerts and fast, two-way data and voice communications help towards control of crime and other threats. These are backed up by automatically generated audit trails and other business applications such as the collection of retail turnover statistics and loyalty and incentive schemes.
- Enabling comprehensive security alerts against threats such as organised gangs, opportunistic crimes, and terrorist threats.
- Assuring a demonstrably safer environment, and reducing risk through fast communications together with automatically generated audit trails.
- Providing a platform for packaged business applications such as the collection of retail turnover statistics and loyalty and incentive schemes.
- Allowing two-way data and voice Communications between centre management and tenanted units.
- Extending wireless data and voice connectivity to mobile operatives such as security guards, maintenance personnel and locally-sited police.
- Offering simple integration with other systems, leveraging legacy technology investments, suiting the system for both greenfield sites and existing centres.
- Opening the door to value added services, offering more customer choices and improving profit in the retail and leisure environment.
- Optimising valuable retail space through the use of small footprint, end-user devices with flexible mounting options.
- Gaining maximum return from essential platforms such as telephone systems, office application servers, and cabling infrastructures.
ACCL experts in the Tenant Active System