At the heart of the New Meadowlands Stadium (NMS) is the deft integration of guest service and security. It is designed to focus on deterrence as a highly secured, hard target. The new stadium has seating for 82,566 fans, including 10,030 club seats and 222 luxury suites, making it the second largest NFL stadium in total fixed seating, behind FedEx Field. This perfect blend of people, processes and technology leverages best practices at a high level:
• Its people are experts who understand the business of stadium management, guest service and security and safety best practices.
• The processes create a guest experience that is safe and secure with security being as unobtrusive as possible. Yet, it can become highly visible if/when individuals choose to become engaged with it.
• The technology is integrated to support policies and enable processes to effectively and efficiently be implemented.
Mark Lamping is the chief executive officer of this new $1.6 billion, state-of-the-art stadium. He and his team are off to a great start, having opened in April with 25,000-plus attending an NCAA lacrosse match that featured three games and immediately zoomed to a 75,000 person sold-out soccer exhibition featuring Mexico against Ecuador. Many of the fans did not speak English and the Meadowlands’ staff flawlessly passed their first major test.
The venue moved quickly from sports to concerts, featuring three sold out Jon Bon Jovi shows to “officially” open the new stadium. And fittingly, as the old Giants Stadium next door continued to be demolished, it was announced that the NMS will host the first outdoor, cold weather Super Bowl in February 2014. It will also be the first time that a Super Bowl will be played in the New York/New Jersey region.
A Hard Target
Security at NMS is led by Danny DeLorenzi, director, and Steve Babiak, manager. Both are veteran security leaders in their respective disciplines. DeLorenzi was managing director at Safir Rosetti, a leading security, investigations and intelligence consultancy, which included the NMS among its clients. He earned the top security post as a result of his outstanding work on the project. Babiak served as a Captain in the Bergen County Police Department and has expertise with both K-9 and emergency management programs.
Most of the security strategy employed at the NMS is the result of DeLorenzi and Babiak’s experience and expertise. The New Meadowlands Stadium Company’s structure allows the security department to manage security for all events and interface with the security organizations of the New York Football Giants, the New York Jets and promoters of other large-scale field events.
The Softer Side
As hard and impressive a target as the NMS is structurally, its “softer side” is even more impressive.
At the heart of the NMS are the command and emergency operations centers. Built on L-3 Communications Praetorian Command and Control System, thousands of sensors including cameras, motion sensors, access control card and biometric readers, elevators, gates and hydraulic vehicle barrier systems are monitored, displayed and controlled using a 3D graphical user interface that enables the operator to understand and “cyber-navigate” the entire facility.
Praetorian combines hundreds of video surveillance cameras and thousands of sensor data feeds into one user interface, real-time immersive display of the total stadium environment using geo referenced maps, floor plans, and 3D imaging technology. The consolidation and unified 3D display of information into a manageable system contained in a small footprint reduces observer workload, allowing them to increase the effectiveness of proactive surveillance activities.
Security Staff Training Ensures Secure Fan Experience
Among the most important success factors at the NMS is the breadth and depth of its training programs for all event staff, which requires alcohol management for all employees.
“The safety and security of those attending events at the New Meadowlands Stadium is of paramount importance,” Lamping explains. “The New Meadowlands Stadium Company, the New York Jets and the New York Football Giants understand that safety, security and quality guest services are extremely important and they have played a very important role during the design and construction of the stadium as well as the training for the event staff.”
The Playbook for Security Integration
Like a superior NFL game plan, the creation of a large-scale integrated security solution for a stadium or entertainment venue demands strategy and innovation.
Johnson Controls develops, installs and services security solutions in stadiums and entertainment venues around the world. While fans enjoy sporting events or concerts, a web of video surveillance cameras, card-readers and security management platforms are operating behind the scenes to secure the facility and people inside.
• Venue owners should engage an integration partner early any new construction or retrofit project: Make sure to choose a partner that can analyze, design and build a technology plan to meet the current and future needs of your business.
• Assess your network capabilities: Work with a technology partner who can assess your network capabilities to commission/install the proper technologies and ensure efficient and reliable operations.
• Design a solution that encompasses the venue's needs: The venue’s needs must determine and drive the technology plan, not vice versa. Ideal solutions are based on the technology required and not a vendor or a brand.
Creating a Security VACCINE
The amount of information gathered during a crisis can be crushing if it’s not managed correctly. The Department of Homeland Security created a VACCINE center (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments) to help homeland security personnel, including first-responders, perform their jobs more effectively by turning mass amounts of data into manageable information.
Recently, members of the DHS VACCINE center met with representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and local first responders at the new NMS. Discussions focused on improving interoperability between the radio systems used by local jurisdictions surrounding the new stadium and NFL security staff. Representatives from Purdue, which is VACCINE’s Lead University, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey met with the New Jersey State Police, Bergen County Police, Ridgefield Fire Department and EMS, NMS security staff, the Chief Technology Officer and Motorola to review a software solution proposed by Motorola.