• Hytera Hosted HyTalk PoC system delivers major upgrade to Uxbridge BID in West London (UK)

    Cities, Boroughs and Municipalities | Case Study

When the Uxbridge Business Improvement District was voted in for a further five-year term, its first task was to update its ageing radio system. ShopSafe provided a solution using Hytera’s Hosted HyTalk Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) platform and Hytera PoC devices to deliver an ultra-modern, flexible and cost-effective digital solution supporting both voice and new multimedia services such as video and data.

The Background

Uxbridge Business Improvement District (BID) is a non-profit organisation set up in 2017 to represent the local business community in Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Known as Love Uxbridge, the BID’s role is to promote and improve the designated BID Zone.

Since 2017, the BID has invested over £2.5 million of Levy income into Uxbridge town centre, while also securing an additional £460,000 of commercial and Government Funding. The money has been used to help make Uxbridge an even more attractive, welcoming, and safe place to shop, socialise, work and live.

Following a successful renewal vote in July 2022, Love Uxbridge was given a further five-year term. The BID wasted no time in launching its first major project - an upgrade of its radio system. The aim was to increase the coverage area, improve audio quality and introduce powerful analytics to support the BID team.

The Challenge

In 2017, the BID inherited an existing radio system originally installed by ShopSafe Ltd., a specialist in crime reduction radio schemes, for the former Crime Reduction Partnership, but by 2022 the equipment was now almost 10 years old.

The radio system was still fully functional, thanks to the service exchange package still in place. But the aging equipment had become somewhat ‘clunky’ and ‘dumb’ in comparison to modern radio technology, which is far more feature-rich and capable of supporting more advanced applications.

A further challenge facing the BID’s communications network was that the impact of global events and the fall out of two years of Covid had led to stock shortages. This meant it was becoming a major issue to source replacement parts for the ageing radios. An upgrade was clearly called for.

The Solution

The Uxbridge area has excellent 4G and 5G mobile phone coverage, so ShopSafe suggested that a migration to its ‘SmartRadio’ Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) solution would be the way to go, as this would offer substantial benefits for both the users and the management team.

PoC provides all the benefits of modern digital two-way radio systems, such as individual, group and emergency calling and texting services. But it has the immense advantage of also supporting a full suite of multimedia applications including video and data, as the service operates over public 4G mobile phone networks and the android powered devices support modern apps.

The ShopSafe SmartRadio platform is based on Hytera’s Hosted HyTalk PoC solution, which is a fully cloud-based and UK-hosted communication network. Residing in the Microsoft Azure cloud computing data centres the platform is resilient, secure and meets ISO27001 and GDPR compliance regulations.

Users communicate on the platform using Hytera devices operating over public cellular networks or internal Wi-Fi networks. The radio handset chosen for the businesses and retailers was the Hytera PNC370. This PoC device also supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS location services. It adopts the form factor of a two-way radio with a snub antenna and is compact, lightweight and easy to operate.

The ranger team was issued with Hytera PNC550 hybrid terminals. The device is both a PoC radio and an Android smartphone operating over 2G/3G/4G/Wi-Fi. Its design is that of a smartphone with 5-inch touchscreen, large PTT button on the side, and orange emergency button on top.

Three MNC360 mobile PoC radios were installed into the CCTV control rooms, using WiFi where required to ensure the best connection to communication network. With constant power supply and simple to use controls the MNC360 improves efficiency for the control room operators.

The new devices were delivered to the BID fully configured and ready to go. After an initial demonstration to the BID team, a ShopSafe representative, along with the full BID team, took to the streets to deliver, train and collect the old equipment to all 70 BID members in just a single day.

The Benefits

Hytera’s Hosted HyTalk solution provides a highly flexible and cost-effective upgrade to the BID’s communications, as cloud based SAAS solution no investment in expensive infrastructure is required by the customer or ShopSafe. The Hytera PoC devices operate over public mobile phone networks, which greatly extends both coverage and capacity, as the device will operate anywhere there is a mobile phone signal, or over local Wi-Fi networks.

The PNC370 provides a major upgrade from the old devices, as it is roughly half the weight and size. It is packed full of features including a full colour OLED screen to identify the incoming caller, emergency panic button, and exceptional audio quality thanks to its dual-microphone noise suppression technology.

The PNC550 offers the ranger team a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front camera extending the possibilities for recording and transmitting photos and videos when out and about. It is highly rugged and reliable, as it is IP68 rated against water and dust ingress and has a 1.2m drop-proof design. It offers additional functionality such as the ability to playback transmissions and to easily see who is online.

The MNC360 gives the control room the resilience of dual SIM cards and WiFi to ensure they are always operational. The 2-inch full colour screen makes it easy for the operators to see who is talking on the network and with fast access to a call log they can identify any missed calls.

As a cloud hosted SAAS solution the Hosted HyTalk platform offers extensibility and ShopSafe have had a bespoke reporting portal developed that provides their customers, such as Uxbridge BID, with analytics and reports that are meaningful to them.

The Hytera HyTalk system and PoC devices now make it much easier for BID members to share information such as photos, videos or data files in real or near-real time - for example, to warn members that a known shoplifter has been spotted in the vicinity.