Arenas/Stadiums/Leagues/Entertainment

Big Crowds, Big Security Challenges

August 1, 2011
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More than Emergency Management, and Web-basedWhen Katy Perry takes the stage to sing to her screaming fans next month in Louisville, Alicia Dunlap knows that, thanks to her team’s planning, hard work and technology, the event will be a safe and secure experience.

Protecting arenas, stadiums, large public venues and special events involves traditional tools and skills but unique needs specific to the venue, location, event, time of day, crowd demeanor and even international and terrorist situations.

As compared with others worldwide, Dunlap has been lucky to be part of a brand-spanking new venue, the KFC Yum! Center, where, after several years of design, planning, and construction, she created a technology-centric infrastructure to best support operations and security when it opened last October.

It was no small task. There are 240 miles of Cat5e and four miles of fiber. There are nearly 150 cameras, all IP-based and power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled. The cameras integrate with electronic access controls, which include biometrics in some areas of the facility. There is Wi-Fi inside the concrete-challenging facility, digital radios for first responders, and some staff members have Android phones for text and e-mail communications during operations and security incidents.

It was a big construction job: a 721,762 square foot facility of seven levels costing $238 million, with seating ranging from 22,000 to 17,500 depending on the type of event, when Chicago-based Mortenson Construction’s John Wood, senior vice president, handed the keys over to representatives from the Louisville Arena Authority and Kentucky State Fair Board (KSFB).

 

A Question of Budget

In between, integrator Orion Systems Group of Fairfax, Va., successfully delivered enterprise-class IP video and access control systems on time and budget, and in time for the first event, an Eagles concert.

“One of my biggest challenges has been, going back more than two years, the wish of KSFB to be at the forefront of technology in our state-of-the-art facility,” explains Dunlap, the board’s director of division of information technology. “At KFC Yum! Center, we want all athletes, sporting personnel, performers, event staff, fans and visitors to feel safe and secure both within and around the facility.”

So it took “exceptional personnel focusing on project management and quality control” to make this project possible and successful, adds Paul Garver, president of Orion.

That focus is shared by venues, stadiums and their security professionals around the world and who protect sporting events, entertainment sites, convention centers and special happenings ranging from the Olympics to a city street parade. Not in this business? There still are things to learn from arena security, concerns and solutions.

So let’s take a trip around the world to look at what’s shaking and baking at some of the premiere sports, entertainment and big business experiences.

About 9,564 miles from Louisville is Kuala Lumpur and its golf and country club (KLGCC), located in a lush hilltop setting in an affluent suburb of the city. The club hosts more than 100,000 rounds of golf a year and is the site of numerous international championships such as the Maybank Malaysian Open 2010 and the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2010. The KLGCC security system needed better video image quality. The country club’s management wanted a system that would maintain resolution during live view and playback. In the case of outdoor applications, cameras needed to be protected from the elements.

 

Megapixel Approach

Multiple cameras from Arecont Vision now provide video surveillance for the expansive facility, including 1.3 and 3 megapixel units that tie into a centrally monitored system. Additional capabilities that help further improve overall security coverage include motion detection, image cropping, region-of-interest viewing and forensic zooming. Syed Baba bin Mohd Gous, business development manager of Sensorlink, designed the job to take advantage of the flexibility of megapixel video. Sensorlink is a solutions provider of advanced total surveillance solutions for various industries including sports facilities. He points out that sports facilities “have become very savvy when evaluating imaging technology. They come to the table with high expectations for high quality and low price points.”

More than a chip shot away from Kuala Lumpur’s 18th green, we land in Des Moines to catch the balls and strikes of the AAA Iowa Cubs, which recently installed Brivo ACS WebService at their home field, Principal Park, thanks to integrator Strauss Security Solutions of Urbandale, Iowa.

Principal Park, home to 72 Iowa Cubs games each season, sees more than 500,000 fans through its gates each year. Over the years, the stadium has undergone numerous expansions and improvements. Prior to upgrading access control capabilities, the Iowa Cubs relied on lock and key, motion detection sensors and door ajar alerts. But as Jeff Tilley, director of stadium operations, explains, “We felt we had a certain number of doors where we wanted more information and more control; we wanted to better document who was coming and going and to limit access.”

Tilley and Jake Samo, his assistant manager for stadium operations, looked at a number of different access control systems. Now they use the software as a service approach to control the main entrance doors to the stadium and access to the Cubs’ front office, the facilities office where equipment and promotional items are stored, and to the Cubs owner’s personal office.

The system is managing upwards to 100 employees, interns and part-time help divided into approximately 12 groups with specific access days and times as well as access locations for each group. Each group’s specific access privileges track their function at the ballpark – grounds crew, cleaning crews, front office interns, concessions, stadium operations, etc. Tilley and Samo are considering adding outside contractors to the access groups in the future.

There are some other types of events that happen once a year and have global reach.

For example, the Indianapolis 500, operated by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and where one security challenge is getting the word out to visitors over the din of the race. “Sirens and loudspeakers may not be effective,” says John von Thaden, general manager of Alert & Notification systems group for Federal Signal. The firm’s interoperable communications, alerting and notification systems enable the convergence and integration of previously separate communication channels that include fixed and mobile networks and devices, paging and sensing devices and systems, along with the management controls and reporting capabilities that surround them. Increasingly, facilities such as sporting events realize that separate communications applications can be combined with one another.

  

An Opt-in Communication Service

In a pilot project, according to von Thaden, he set up a Web portal and IMS officials encouraged attendees to opt in for the mass notification service. “It included security awareness information, parking and other data” to be received as text messages over cell and smartphones.

The pilot centered on what Federal Signal calls Codespear, a multi-network, multi-channel and multi-device urgent notification, messaging and collaboration solution, which integrates voice and text-based communication and that supplements existing emergency broadcast systems. The application sends instant alert notifications, within seconds, to citizens, students, or other at-risk groups on a variety of devices including home telephones, cell phones, pagers, PDAs, computers, SMS, text pagers and external e-mail addresses.

From the Brickyard, there is a big jump to cricket bats.

Such as at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, known to fans as ‘The G.’ It is Australia’s largest and most iconic sporting venue. With a history dating back to 1853, upwards of 100,000 fans as well as thousands of catering and hospitality staff, hundreds of security officers, police, medical teams and media crews, as well as sports teams and match officials, flood the site.

After a site survey, the existing access control system not only needed to be replaced, but taking the new public threat levels into account, access control needed to be significantly expanded to protect equipment and infrastructure across the site.

MCG Facilities Manager Andy Frances realized the key to the MCG’s electronic security future would be an open architecture networked solution. A key challenge for Frances was that MCG’s electronic security and building management systems were incompatible with each other and the multiple layers of cabling infrastructure that sprawled across the site were a complete unknown. Frances also knew that he would need a powerful graphical user interface that incorporated mapping, which meant all the hardware employed across the site had to be built for a networked environment.

“Given the current state of technology, the first thing we had to look at was the security infrastructure,” Frances comments. “I saw the key to the site was going to be a future proof network infrastructure supporting video surveillance, access control and alarm monitoring, integrated by a powerful software management solution. That overall management solution was important because for our critical infrastructure areas, we wanted a system that would allow us to know if a door was forced open, and to have some auditing capability,” says Frances.

  

Compatibility Through IP

The access control side is the major part of the new installation at the MCG, with Genetec Security Center’s Synergis module supporting VertX IP access control from HID Global, to carry access control solutions into an IP environment.

The solution reduces the number of dedicated ports the access control system needs and buffers events when the network is down.

No doubt, “owners and managers of sports stadiums are taking the necessary steps to secure their stadiums against potential threats, including catastrophic incidents,” advises Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies Director, Business Development Mark Moran, who is also chair of the board of advisors to the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ new TCF Bank Stadium features the company’s Schlage L-Series mortise locks (mechanical and electrical) and maglocks, Von Duprin power supplies, LCN closers and auto-equalizers, Steelcraft doors and frames, Ives accessories and Glynn Johnson overheads.

Moran says that sports facilities, for enhanced safety and security, are utilizing solutions such as high security cylinders, code compliant exit devices, access control systems, security video, DVRs to complement new green solutions such as thorns, spines, leaves and barbs as natural barbed wire, putting thorny and prickly plants along windows and on walls and fences. All are part of the solutions and awareness so fans can simply enjoy their day at the stadium, root for their team and get home safely with their family.

Back in Louisville, the University of Kentucky Craft Center provides separate 10,000 square feet of practice courts for the Wildcats men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as locker rooms, weight and training rooms, equipment rooms, office space, ticket sales and other related activities. Tied into the existing Memorial Coliseum, which is the playing venue for Wildcats women’s basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and other teams, the Craft Center also incorporates a wealth of memorabilia and exhibits commemorating past athletic heroes and team championships.

  

Central Monitoring

Video cameras are at strategic locations throughout the building but monitored at a central location.  Operations Coordinator Jamie Applegate says that, if an incident occurs, they can review the digital video recordings against the access audit trails to verify who was involved or if someone was using another person’s fob. The new building required a security system that would provide ready access for athletes, coaches and staff while restricting the ability of others to roam freely from its public areas and the Memorial Coliseum into areas reserved for the athletes and coaches.

“We required three different functions,” Associate Athletics Director Russ Pear explains. “One is for day-to-day operation, the second for when the building needs to be locked down and the third for when we have an event in the Coliseum and need to control access to and from the Joe Craft Center.” The Schlage system manages both online and standalone locks from a single database.  The online hard-wired locks are used primarily on exterior doors and doors to offices in the areas accessible to the general public.

“We weren’t planning on going to the expense of running wires to every door so we identified 40 doors that we needed to have controlled online by the computer,” Pear notes.

Father away, there is the Shanghai WorldExpo Culture Center.

Shaped like a flying saucer, it uses Infinova cameras, modems and a matrix switcher to provide security for the multiple six-story facilities that make up the complex, including an 18,000 seat theater. Cameras are at entrances and exits, garages, fire control passages, stairways, control rooms, elevators, elevator halls and other important areas. Since the site is expansive, distances between some cameras to the control center is far longer than standard coaxial cable can effectively handle. For transmission beyond 500 meters, fiber optic modems are deployed with signals from the cameras being transmitted to the control room via fiber.

With so many cameras deployed, it is impossible to display real-time video images for all cameras simultaneously in the control center. Instead, when an alarm occurs, an alarm handling routine is triggered and the matrix switcher calls the live video from the camera that triggered the incident and displays this on the monitor. Using this solution the video surveillance system can manage alarms from multiple inputs including the burglar alarm, access control and parking lot management systems.

 

Mixing Analog with Digital

From one world-famous city, Shanghai, to another, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) is the largest exhibition venue in the Middle East. The venue hosts more than 60 high-profile exhibitions each year and it recently completed an expansion to increase exhibition floor space and this required expanding the security system as well. 

The security system for the original halls was based on analog technology but, for the new extension, ADNEC chose an IP video surveillance solution from Infinova. With the system, ADNEC did not need to convert analog signals to digital signals by buying and installing rack encoders for their analog cameras.  Since the analog side of the system is not even touched by the co-existent system, security staff could continue to use their present, familiar video wall, system keyboards and joysticks to manage both the presently-installed analog equipment and their new digital equipment without any retraining.

Sometimes events and energized fans can go somewhat mad as in March Madness mad.

The City of Houston, in conjunction with multiple public agencies and private organizations, and to manage and respond to potential security threats related to this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, employed physical security information management (PSIM) software that allowed it to resolve business and security situations in real time.

The VidSys PSIM software enabled security personnel throughout the city, including the Houston Police Department (HPD), Houston Fire Department (HFD), Houston Emergency Center’s Office of Emergency Management and 911 Dispatch, Houston Metro Police, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the NCAA and Reliant Park security, to work together in real-time. This collaboration allowed security officials to protect athletes as well as the 145,797 record number of fans in attendance both inside and outside of Reliant Park, throughout the Discovery Green Park, and at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the downtown area hosting events and activities supporting the games.

As security concerns were reported, the PSIM software enabled HPD officers to pull up cameras at the concourse level and inside the arena to monitor and search for suspects who matched the descriptions of reported situations. With the technology, operators were able to track and deliver real-time information on the whereabouts of suspects to officers being dispatched.  Following any incidents, they could continue to monitor individuals outside of the stadium and downtown for continued safety. Additional key public safety and homeland security stakeholders in the region were able to view the same video sources from command centers located in the city.

City convention centers, beyond Houston, are beefing up security, too.

 

Convention Center Needs

When, for example, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) approved a $700 million plan to expand the existing facility, it called for installation of cutting-edge technologies and systems not available when the convention center first opened its doors.

Traditionally, the security portion of a project like this comes under the umbrella of the base electrical package. The owner determined, however, that it would be better to bundle more “like” technology systems (e.g., security, A/V, network, IT, VoIP) into a single package to assure greater control over costs and selection of systems and equipment.

Ultimately, PCCA awarded what it called its technology facilitator package valued at $5.7 million to Schneider Electric to furnish, install and coordinate all systems and equipment for security, A/V and telecom. Among systems, an Andover Continuum card access system provides the security management solution. In addition to simplifying information collection and sharing among multiple applications over the convention center’s IP-enabled network, this system offers a robust, customizable reporting suite. The expansion plan also called for a security command center and to integrate the security video system with the video and card access systems.

The bottom line: Bundling various technologies into a single package gave PACC multiple benefits from having a single point of contact and running multiple systems on the backbone network to reducing contract administration costs and eliminating scope gap.

At another facility up north of Philadelphia, there are football Argonauts and baseball Blue Jays as well as hundreds of other events at the Toronto Rogers Centre.

Using Avigilon’s network video management software with HD stream management, the mixed use facility monitors every seat of the 50,000 capacity arena and the building’s perimeter live during events from its command post. Nineteen 16-megapixel cameras cover the seating bowl while a mix of cameras monitor the building’s perimeter.

 

Leveraging Existing Infrastructure

Rogers Centre leveraged its existing fiber network to reduce installation and management costs and use of JPEG2000 compression to reduce bandwidth requirements. Achieving complete coverage with fewer cameras and less staff than would be required to operate a traditional analog-based PTZ solution, it further reduced costs.

Mario Coutinho, vice president stadium operations and security for the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club and Rogers Centre, has embraced IP technology in a big way “from tracking tickets to virtual monitor of the crowds,” he says. “We look at every event differently and work with police intelligence units. The next step on the video side will be to allow law enforcement into our communications and security video systems for events.”

After a visit to Toronto, catch the train across Canada to Vancouver, site of the recent Winter Olympics. There is no event with more security concerns with such a worldwide profile and Superintendent Kevin deBruyckere of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) knows it.

“Planning in detail far in advance of the event – that was the key. And collaboration. among so many agencies, organizations and businesses. But it was essential to have one person at the top and have overall responsibility,” says deBruyckere.

Name the security and life safety technology and it played a role at the Olympics.

On the access side, and with such a sprawling venue, “we established levels of control points – Gold, Silver and Bronze – with security teams and procedures varying.”

Uniquely, as compared to more typical arena security efforts, Rapiscan Systems had a $3.2 million contract to provide multiple screening systems, including checkpoint, parcel and baggage inspection systems, to the Vancouver Olympic Games. “We had airport style screening at the major venues. But we tested scenarios aggressively beforehand for quality assurance. We found that the closer the supervision and spot checks, the more effective were the access controls,” says the RCMP superintendent. He also urges others to “sensitize the community to what will be happening” before the event.

  

Key Controls at the Meadowlands

Heading back east, let’s stop at the new Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the third largest National Football League (NFL) stadium able to accommodate more than 82,000 fans for home games featuring the New York Giants and the New York Jets. It changes colors depending on which team is playing at home, using an elaborate system that includes an outer skin of aluminum louvers and interior lighting.

Access control at the stadium involves hundreds of locked doors protecting various locker rooms, offices and other non-public areas. It’s critical for security at the stadium to control the use and location of physical keys, with so many doors and so many fans visiting the stadium. In fact, key control is a fundamental building block to minimize and monitor risk at any large venue like this. Rather than using yesterday’s manual logs or color-coded tags to help keep up with keys, security opted for a sophisticated electronic key control system designed to track keys and release them only to authorized users. It chose the KeyWatcher key management system from Morse Watchmans to provide integrated key control. The system secures each individual key to a locking mechanism with a built-in memory chip. Data from the chip is stored when a key is inserted into or removed from a key slot. The stored data provides stadium management a complete history of keys coming in and going out of the system.

Two systems are used at the stadium to provide about 600 key locations in all, enough to control keys to a majority of doors there. The system is custom-configured based on who has permission to remove a key and tracks who removes any key and when it is taken.

Integration of a network-enabled key management system with a facility’s access control system offers additional benefits. For example, egress from a facility can be denied until a key has been returned. Also, priority e-mail alerts can be sent to security managers to inform them of the whereabouts of specific keys. Network-enabled key control systems also enable authorization codes to be changed instantly and remotely to help prevent incidents such as allowing access to a recently terminated employee.

At Wimbledon, it’s all about tradition.

This summer as the All England Club opened its gates to thousands of tennis fans attending Wimbledon, security was under as much scrutiny as the closest of line-calls. Taking place over 13 days in late June and early July, the tournament was held in London’s southwest suburb of Wimbledon since 1877.

  

Tennis Traditions

Protecting patrons and players as well as the famous grounds, G4S Secure Solutions staff provided Wimbledon with a range of services including searching bags, checking tickets and searching vehicles throughout the event. Outside the gates, delivery vehicles are searched using x-ray before being escorted inside the gates.

The security firm also handled crowd management, provided surveillance against terrorist or other security threats, and screened for counterfeit tickets. The location around Wimbledon, known as SW19, is a well-developed area that requires a crowd management solution that takes into account the needs of local residents.

For the most famous competitors, security officers provided escort to ensure safe passage through the crowds to the courts. Security officers also shadowed players through their medical testing to ensure the integrity of the process. They even protect the ultimate prize, the famous Wimbledon trophies.

At this year’s event, a central command room, controlled by the club itself, coordinated G4S capabilities and monitored lines, gate problems and popular crowd spots while linking the security team into emergency services, in case of a serious incident. This “nerve center” could have identified problem areas or congestion and enable security to move quickly to address any issues.

Recruitment and training of the more than 750 security officers needed to handle security at Wimbledon began six months before the event and continued right up until the first serve.

Beyond tennis, some events may call for portable or temporary security solutions.

One solution is a wireless mesh network to employ systems ranging from security video to more typical communications.

 

Temp and Portable Solutions

Technology from Firetide and others is less costly and less destructive to the facility or the perimeter. Portable mesh played a security role at the Fusion Center when the Dallas Mavericks were welcomed back from the National Basketball Association win. The stadium was also home to this year’s Super Bowl. Some of the mesh nets can be battery powered or powered through a generator.

Based on security at events such as the FiFA World Cup and Formula One, Marc Holtenhoff of Aimetis, which helped provide intelligent video surveillance there, sees four keys to the use of technology in arenas, stadiums and large public venues:

•  Scalability

•  Availability

•  Flexibility

•  Event Identification

“When it comes to scalability, one centralized location may be receiving a large number of cameras with a high number of people accessing the video for numerous reasons,” says Holtenhoff. “Availability means the technology must be up and running. The system cannot be down. Flexibility means that the technology must work within the total system. Event identification centers on the need for real, live monitoring by people and systems.”

After touring the world looking for best practices at arenas, stadiums and large public venues, a last stop is the first stop this article made at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

While there was myriad security, computer and communications technology built into and around the center, two approaches stand out – intelligent security video from Verint Systems and communication from Hytera Communications, through its dealer RadioLand. According to Dunlap, the Hytera digital radio solution is essential for first responder needs within and outside the sprawling facility.

On the video end of things, the “technology appealed to us for its flexibility and ability to integrate with other systems including access control. Cameras can trigger based on door opening. We have nearly 150 cameras all with PoE,” adds Erik Marvin, who works with Dunlap.

More than Emergency Management, and Web-based

Large public venues ranging from universities, sports arenas to Nascar racing events, as examples, are smartening up their decision-making resources in addition to beefing up their physical security. Systems such as NaviGate by Lauren Innovations go beyond emergency management with full integration to also include incident management, document management and learning management systems, too. The firm is a Platinum Sponsor of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security annual conference scheduled for earlier
this month.

The technology also was featured in a presentation on active shooters at the January annual Nascar Summit, which serves as the only annual meeting for representatives from the facilities hosting Nascar events. Before its integrated expansion, NaviGate originally began as a resource to provide vital information to first responders, including floor plans, response plans, call lists, videos, photos and locations of hazardous materials, among other important documentation.

On the large public venue side, James Madison University brought in the technology to enhance its safety and emergency platform and procedures. Such tools bring together universities and community emergency first responders to access safety and security information online and respond more quickly and effectively to incidents in emergency situations. Uniquely, Virginia-based James Madison will also use it for everyday applications, including document management, best practices, regulatory compliance, and learning management.

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