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A close eye on things

Tipoff is a management software system designed to help recycling and civic amenity site waste managers control and reduce illegal tipping by commercial traders and thereby reduce waste disposal costs.

The system incorporates automatic number plate reading technology that identifies frequent users of free household tipping facilities. On screen computer alerts in the gatehouse and pagers notify onsite staff to investigate suspect vehicles. Each Tipoff system has the capacity to view up to two individual lanes of traffic and the radio pager can be used for both Tipoff alerts and as an onsite messaging system within a one mile radius of the gatehouse or control room.

The management software not only stores the vehicle registration number but also includes a captured CCTV wide-angle image of the vehicle together with time and date of each entry. Operators can then enter additional details such as waste type and driver information onto the system to monitor suspect offenders over a period of time.

Once investigated, staff are able to redirect trade waste to the weighbridge or voucher permit schemes and record additional details on the system to ensure perpetrators are identified on future visits.

Tipoff has been developed by security surveillance specialist Essa, based in Cornwall. The company has worked closely with waste mangers at Torbay Council where the system has successfully completed trials at its civic amenity site in Paignton.

"As number plate recognition specialists we had the idea that we could use this service to monitor civic amenity sites," says Jan Fisher, Essa's managing director. "We approached Torbay Council and gave them low cost installation in return for holding our hands while we developed the product."

The trial began in May last year and, after successful results in Paignton, it was three months before the product was launched. Waste cycle service manager Andy Dumont at Torbay Council, said: "We have been working closely with Essa over the last few months modifying the system to meet our requirements. Tipoff has already proved that it can help us cut our trader abuse which will reduce our domestic waste in total, reduce disposal costs and should even improve our recycling rates."

In one day alone over 20 alerts were received by on site staff, which resulted in six drivers either warned that they had infringed regulations or being redirected to the weighbridge to pay.

"There are many benefits," continued Dumont. "Tipoff's camera is highly visible and acts as a deterrent. It takes most of the hard work out of the data input, which is automatic and alerts us to persistent visitors especially van users without delay.

"Identified commercial users must then pay for their disposal, relieving the council tax payers of that burden. It provides reliable data and is a flexible system, which has been tailored to our needs."

Fisher adds: "The beauty of the software is that it can be adjusted to meet a client's specific needs. Torbay Council has told us their exact reporting requirements and has set their own alert parameters."

Because local authorities are running multiple sites, Essa has just released a second product that tackles the problem of people visiting one CA site one day and another the next. The new system talks to a number of remote sites overnight, collecting the information and pooling it into a central database. A frequent visitor will trigger the system, which reports the information back. The system is currently being trialled at a maj

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