Electrosonic upgrades at Highways England’s East Regional Control Centre


Highways England (HE) has expanded the capability of its East Regional Control Centre at South Mimms in Hertfordshire with the deployment of a new and upgraded video wall, making it one of the agency’s largest, and now most technologically advanced control centers.

As the existing dynamic display system at South Mimms had been in place for a number of years, a replacement using enhanced technology was required. International audio-visual systems integrator, Electrosonic, has now installed a new dynamic display system (DDS) at the centre. Comprising of 24 Mitsubishi Electric 67-inch (170cm) LED illuminated ‘cubes’, the new DDS technology has delivered a system that is energy efficient, suitable for 24/7 usage, and virtually maintenance free. Sited near the junction of the M25 London Orbital Motorway and the A1(M) motorway, the South Mimms Control Centre covers one of the busiest areas on the UK’s road network. As HE’s technology manager, Garry Packer, explained, “The video wall is a key operational resource, allowing for improved tactical and strategic management of congestion and incidents.”

Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has built a strong reputation for working on complex projects, and maintains an ongoing service relationship with various HE sites, having now successfully completed a total of eight projects for them. The company determined that Mitsubishi’s 67PE78 SXGA+ LED illuminated ‘cubes’, were the best solution for HE, owing to several key factors. They are brighter, of higher resolution, and use less power than their predecessor. Additionally, they do not require any consumables, such as projector lamps that would need regular replacement.

The cubes have a 4:3 aspect ratio that matches the all-important camera images exactly, making the most efficient use of the display area. Their automatic color balancing feature ensures that all cubes in the array give a uniform performance. The cubes also benefit from an extremely narrow 1mm bezel, which presents a virtually seamless image when magnified across a 2×2 cube array.

The DDS, which dominates the control room and consists of an 8×3 array of cubes, can show any combination of video or images across the array, determined by any one of the 20 operator positions. The vast majority of images are derived from HE’s network of 870 cameras located around the regions roads. In addition, images from other regions, roadwork cameras, Transport for London (TfL), and broadcast images can also be selected. The display receives its inputs from an Eyevis Netpix NPX-4800 video wall processor. This was chosen for its flexibility and ability to deal with many source types. In particular, it met HE’s requirement that the processor should be able to process directly H264 compressed CCTV images delivered over IP, according to the ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) format.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).