Retail Therapy at Westfield for SIGMA Networks

The new Westfield Stratford City development is the gateway to London's 2012 Olympic Park, and is the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.

It boasts over 1.9 million square feet of retail and leisure space, including 300 shops, a cinema and casino as well as nearly a million square feet of office space. It cost in excess of £3.24 billion to construct and opened its doors to a fanfare of publicity in September 2011.

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Since then, customer numbers have consistently exceeded expectations and Stratford City is now the jewel in the crown of Westfield's nine shopping centres in the UK.

With a catchment population of 4.4 million people, the logistics of moving customers to and from the site is a major challenge. Many people use the excellent public transport links, but those who make their own way can choose between the 3 major car parks, offering 5000 parking spaces.

The car parks at Stratford City offer a revolutionary parking management system from market leaders Park Assist®. The system directs customers to vacant spaces using electronic messaging signs and LED indicators (red or green lights) above each space.

In this way, the time taken to find a space and park a car at peak times is halved, resulting in a 56% reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions. The "Find My Car" feature, co-developed with Connect IB, allows shoppers to enter their vehicle registration number into kiosks located around the centre, then be shown a CCTV image of their vehicle, along with precise directions of the quickest route back to it.

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Installing a system of this size and complexity into a large development like Stratford City was no mean feat. SIGMA Networks were selected by Park Assist® from a number of competing contractors and were entrusted with the job of installing over 10000 metres of aluminium trunking and 5000 sensors to the ceilings of the 14 floors of car park levels across 3 major car parks.

Starting in early June 2011, we had just 12 weeks to complete the task. In addition, we installed CCTV cameras with number plate recognition capability, inductive loops beneath the road surface and power and control cabinets in 18 locations around the site.

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As usual, SIGMA Networks rose to the challenge, with 30 engineers on site over the summer, led by our Project Manager Paul Rose. Paul had to co-ordinate works in diverse locations around the site, as well as take in and distribute deliveries of materials from as far away as China and the USA.

The security around the site was intense, as the Olympic development was right next door, and the presence of 7000 other builders, decorators and electricians made the logistics a major challenge!

We estimate that Paul walked in excess of 300 miles around the development over the summer!

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Despite a number of increases in the size and scope of the installation as the work progressed, and some last-minute parking bay changes by Westfield, we managed to successfully complete the job in time for the grand opening in early September 2011.


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