Scunthorpe – where else would you find a naked man running down the high street wielding a machete?

English: A car park from above.

English: A car park from above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I wouldn’t park there if I were you” said the shifty looking youth in the hooded top.

We looked at each other puzzled; “But it’s a car park.”

“Fridges.” he replied in his thick Northern accent.

Must be something in the water round here; “Sorry – what do you mean?”

“Off top” he said, gesturing to the large tower block overlooking the car park.

“They like using cars for target practise – wit’ fridges.”

Blimey – we could see why this was the home of our shiny new software. It was a town centre monitoring system, hooking up CCTV cameras with alarms, door locks and radio systems across the town centre. After swiftly moving the car to a safer looking parking spot, we headed towards the control centre which looked like a hardened bunker at the nexus of the three tower blocks. Security was very tight and neither of us thought to bring any photo ID.

“We wrote your software. We’re here to see it.”

“Righto sunshine, pull the other one.” said a disembodied voice behind a grille.

We were eager to see the software in action. Although we carried out extensive testing in the lab’, we could only run the system at a small-scale because there were only so many cameras and monitors we could fit on the premises. Eventually, we managed to persuade our vigilant friend that we weren’t fully paid up members of the hooded fridge throwers club and he let us in.

This was back in the late nineties, and the system was advanced for the time. Each operator had a touch screen with which they could navigate over a map of the city. All of the cameras were shown together with their fields of view.

By tapping on a camera, the operator could move it around using a touch screen joypad. Each camera could be made to appear either picture in picture on the operator’s monitor or on a wall of monitors. We even had multiplexer support so that the operator could have many camera pictures showing up in a grid on his monitor.

Built into the system were alarms. When anything triggered an alarm, cameras would go to predetermined positions and appear on predetermined monitors to bring whatever triggered the alarm to the operator’s attention. Right in front of us, an alarm went off and the system sprang into action. It was a real thrill to see the software we created working in anger.

We didn’t have long to admire our handiwork as our vigilant friend ushered us out of the room.

Eventually, the police turned up and we overheard the source of all the excitement. A naked man rampaged down Scunthorpe high street wielding a machete.

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