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 security program relies on proven best practices, including searching all larger vehicles that enter the Meadowlands Sports Complex parking lots through the parking toll plazas that are well outside the parking areas and away from the stadium. Babiak’s K-9 units are trained to sniff for bombs, not drugs (but they still make concert performers nervous).
The ingress program includes a 40-foot stand off area allowing for appropriate observation of fans followed by inspection, including pat downs and/or baggage checks. These two steps occur prior to ticket scanning at the entrance to the stadium. Inside, hostile surveillance, counter surveillance strategies and an “eyes on the field” observation suite on the sixth level of the stadium is employed.
In addition, the NMS was designed and built as a hard target. There is only one way for vehicles to enter the stadium and that is via the loading dock area, for example. Delta Barriers ring the perimeter and walls are K-12 enforced.

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.
Using a technique called “virtual patrolling,” Praetorian system operators manipulate a 3D model of the entire Meadowlands Sports Complex to observe and respond to live sensor data that is digitally overlaid on the model in real time. Observers control video sensors by using a standard computer mouse to click on any area of the 3D computer model. Cameras can be controlled and viewed from virtually any perspective, allowing system operators to “point-and-click” to track individuals from one camera to the next and from indoors to outdoors and back again.
The Praetorian “system of systems” includes a complex and formidable array of computers and sensors that can detect potential threats and automatically alert operators. These alerts can also be linked to automatic responses which the system will execute without operator interaction. Those whose intent is to break the rules should be aware that the Praetorian system is ever-vigilant and does not always need a security operator to control the camera; it can control on its own.
The Command Center also utilizes weather tracking and communications systems. HVAC, lighting, elevators and security can all be managed from the Center. During events, the New Jersey State Police, FBI and EMS all join NMS security staff in the Command Center.
Connected to the Command Center is the Emergency Operations Center. Representatives from all stakeholder organizations (for example, facilities, guest services and New Jersey Transit) are located at specific positions so that they can communicate as a mini-fusion center, sharing intelligence and properly utilizing the Command and Control system information.
As a result of this strategic security program, the NMS works with multiple partner organizations that are experts in their respective business operations (such as parking and food and beverage) by both centralizing and distributing security and safety activities and programs. The New Meadowlands Stadium Company has overall responsibility of the big picture, while Delaware North Companies (the food and beverage management company) and Central Parking System are responsible for their own cash drawer/loss prevention programs. NMS security staff supports as necessary.

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.”
Programs on security, food safety, guest services, safety services and cultural understanding are presented to those employees engaged in these disciplines. Training also includes a guided tour of the entire facility so that all employees are familiar with the stadium.
Lamping, DeLorenzi and Babiak focus on guest services while ensuring a safe secure and enjoyable fan experience. The event staff is ready to prevent and respond to security, medical and other emergency management needs, including inclement weather. The magic is that their security program compliments and enhances their guest service program. Everyone is aware of today’s hostile realities and ticket holders anticipate and expect some level of security at an event. The NMS delivers outstanding security seamlessly.
As noted, the security program and first responder expertise will become highly visible if a guest decides to become engaged with it. Among the old, tried and true best practices is the processing room behind the emergency operations center. Fans that engage in illegal or highly inappropriate behavior are processed and possibly ejected from the stadium. As a follow-up, they will receive a letter from the New Meadowlands Stadium Company and in some cases, may lose season tickets and their Personal Seat License.
On game days, more than 100 New Jersey State Police join the NMS team. Experts in bomb and alcohol management are among the team on the ground while the aviation division monitors the Sports Complex and the airspace above the NMS. As capacity crowds are welcomed as customers, security is not an intrusive or visible part of their experience. At the same time, people are reassured by a visible security presence.
“It is not our biggest worry, but our biggest issue is alcohol abuse and related incidents,” notes Babiak. Supporting his statement, an October 2009 survey of 1,100 sports industry executives conducted by Sports Business Journal and Turnkey Sports & Entertainment showed that alcohol abuse was the biggest issue – over terrorism – by a 3 to 1 margin.
Prepared for the unlikeliest of threats as well as the high volume and predictable incidents related to alcohol, the NMS has integrated people, processes and technology at the highest level of any large venue in the world.

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.
David Dawson, a branch manager at Johnson Controls, notes a few best practices implemented for integrated security solutions:

• 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.
An integrated security platform should be scaled in real time and adjust to changing stadium configurations and capacity. When the right planning and implementation process occurs, these kinds of venues can focus on the fan experience while their integrator focuses on security of people, property and assets.

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.
All parties agreed to move forward with this software solution, and VACCINE staff was invited back to evaluate the upgrades, as well as collect data for further research. The DHS Command, Control and Interoperability (CCI) Division not only manages the CCI COE, but also have been working successfully with the Port Authority for more than two years on other collaborative technology implementation projects.