Get in on the game

It's no secret that a mass gathering for an organized event presents a wide range of threats, including terrorist attacks.

Think about the last time you attended a sporting event or concert or went to another public place. It would almost seem out-of-the-ordinary not to be patted down at the entry turnstiles or have bags checked. Even fan giveaways are subject to scrutiny before distribution, so they don't wind up being used as a projectile or a weapon.

Security in public venues and sports stadiums poses a number of challenges such as traffic control; multiple entrances and exits; and lighting conditions in parking lots. Sports stadiums and public venues seem to be the bright spot in otherwise lackluster new construction. Since 2000, 28 new major league stadiums have been built costing over $9 billion dollars.

Opportunities for systems integrators are vast and it is up to them to act as a partner in showing security directors in this market just what robust converged solutions are available.

"You're going to see technology play a bigger role in stadium security over the next decade and as it does, here is where integrated security systems become more important," explained Dr. Lou Marciani, director, National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss. "Stadiums need a good integration partner to assist in the enhancement of technology as it affects the processes of the security of the stadium," he continued.

A demographic glance

There are nearly 1,800 stadiums in the country, ranging from capacities of 2,000 to 250,000. Over 45 percent of college and university football venues seat between 30,000 and 50,000 and there are 20 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) stadiums holding over 90,000 spectators.

Dollars are clearly being spent in this market as the past two years combined vouched for a collective $9 billion estimate spent alone in construction for sports stadiums and arenas in both major leagues, collegiate and minor leagues, according to a SportsBusiness Journal study.

According to the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety & Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi, 83.9 percent of grant funding comes from outside the state of Mississippi, with 48.1 percent of funding coming from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

A keynote address presented by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano at this year's first National Sports Safety & Security Conference and Exhibition looked at the need to expand public and private partnerships between DHS, law enforcement and stadium and supporting operators but also looked at the role that fans and everyday citizens play in security, not just in sporting events but in public venues as well.

"One other area of partnership that we are expanding is one not just with teams or security officials but with the fans," Napolitano stated. "That is making sure that everyone understands that security is a shared responsibility," she continued.

In an effort to get fans involved in the security, DHS launched the "See Something, Say Something" campaign, started by the New York city Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), for fans at stadiums. DHS is working to combine the campaign with their Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) system, created initially for law enforcement to share info about incidents that may indicate future terrorist planning or other criminal activity.

NCS4, established as a national center to research, identify and target solutions for sports stadiums and arenas, allows manufacturers and technology developers to bring their solutions to the NCS4 campus for evaluation. With the NCS4 National Sport Security Lab, established earlier this year, solution makers submit products relevant in the sports stadium environment to be tested.

"If someone is building a new stadium or arena or retrofitting, they now have a lab where they can see first-hand the qualities and pros and cons of any technology," explained Mark Moran, director of Business Development for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies and Chair of the Board of Advisors to NCS4.

Another effort to get fans and stadium attendees involved includes instant notification to security personnel during an event. "The fans are either texting security or they are texting an automated system that was set up by the stadium or the individual league and then that message goes straight to security," continued Moran.

Flexible solutions for temporary structures

The challenges systems integrators face in such large arenas is not just limited to sports stadiums. A large number of stadiums across the U.S. and in other countries are used for events such as concerts, community gatherings and even graduation ceremonies. Last month's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), a temporary event held at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Ky., for the first time in the U.S., was evidence of the daunting tasks systems integrators face.

With 700,000 anticipated attendees, 400 plus trade show booths and about 900 equestrian athletes and 800 horses located across 1,200 acres of land, every part of physical security played an integral role as event sponsor EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., went to work to address the issues and challenges and what technology needed to be installed to get the job done right.

"The obvious biggest challenge was the large size of the venue," explained John McKenzie, physical security business development manager, EMC. "And because it is an elegant event, it must be aesthetically pleasing. Cameras can't just be thrown up anywhere. They have to be mounted appropriately and, in some cases, disguised or hidden-which often presents a challenge in obtaining a good field of view."

Temporary tents and booths were set up weeks prior to the the event, there was no time for mistakes. With no permanent power or network infrastructure, EMC had to get creative with the integration. Using wireless technology, they were able to use fiber connectivity for the video system installation.

With the system designed as a drop-and-drag type of configuration, EMC, working with systems integrator Orion Systems Group, Fairfax, Va., met and exceeded challenges from day to day, whether it was the addition of a camera or the integration of the systems.

"We were able to meet all that because of the openness of the system," explained McKenzie. "For example, a traffic pattern that was initially established had to be changed for various reasons. We immediately had to redesign security for the arenas, entrances, bus routes, car routes and parking lots. You can have everything patterned out, but when the day of the event comes, things change. The system has to be incredibly flexible to account for those changes."

"When you have an event this big, you use a lot more parking than you typically would," explained Brad Pyles, PSP, regional sales manager, Orion Systems. "Existing parking areas were fairly well lit. Makeshift parking areas were lit with temporary lighting so that was an ongoing challenge in how we positioned cameras to get the best view."

Another area that was a major concern was an area called "the jungle," an intersection of human traffic "that we really felt was going to have to be watched from all four corners," continued Pyles. "And of course there is the retail tent which is also an area where there will be a lot of human traffic, which is what it really comes down to-making sure that people continue moving, especially at the entrance and at the turnstiles so there are no back ups."

The stables were another area of the event that had higher security restrictions in place.

"At one point and time we will have 600 to 700 horses inside a large stabling area covering dozens of acres so that area is separately fenced," explained Kevin Tyo, president of ESCO Security Consulting, Georgetown, Ky. "There are perimeter control points where we have law enforcement and security teams checking credentials for anybody coming inside that area to make sure that they are either a grooms person, maybe an owner, or athlete or someone associated with the event-they would be the only ones gaining access to those areas."

But security systems also provide a broad array of information not just for a particular event but also for all the security systems on campus or in the surrounding areas, whether it's the state police, national guard or other security teams in and around the area. Such was also the case for The O2, an entertainment venue with a 20,000 capacity arena, inside the Greenwich Peninsula district in London.

A different kind of game

"Stadiums and similar buildings attract a great crowd of people and this can have an impact on the surrounding areas," explained Paul Anderson, technical management consultant, Direct Security, London.

Operators at the O2 Operational Control Room manage the Avigilon HD Surveillance System using Avigilon Control Center network video management software (NVMS) with HD Stream Management. Avigilon HD cameras ranging from one to 16 megapixels were installed around the exterior of the O2 to monitor high-traffic areas and capture license plate and facial details, and at all entrances at indigO2 to identify incoming ticket holders. Several Avigilon analog video encoders were installed to create a hybrid surveillance system that dramatically improves the performance of PTZ analog cameras in a cost effective manner. An Avigilon Network Video Recorder (NVR) stores up to 31 days of continuous surveillance video and additional workstations were set up at the Greenwich Peninsula Business Centre and the nearby Transport for London building.

The Avigilon HD surveillance system is also installed at the indigO2, a 2,350 capacity venue inside the O2 which opened in June 2007. The completed system entailed the transfer of all analog cameras from the Panasonic recorders onto the Avigilon recorders, allowing for an increased recording capability from three days storage to 28 days. All entrances are covered by four megapixel cameras, to identify incoming ticket holders, which are linked through to the central event control room.

The implementation of IP video surveillance and megapixel cameras continue to drive technology in sporting stadiums and public venues. The emergence of high definition video surveillance tied in with the integration of fire alarm and access control, is a concept evident at universities, according to Marciani. Also emerging is tighter credentialing and overall video surveillance tracking.

Drivers of technology

Other types of systems in this space include elevator control and building management systems, communication systems and chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear (CBRNE) systems, according to Larry Lien, vice president of Product Management, Proximex, Sunnyvale, Calif. "Video systems are common, but for higher profile events, organizations will look at additional systems with different sensor types to detect various threats," he said.

One recent technology partnership that promotes the integrated use of video surveillance with other systems is between Proximex and Avigilon, who teamed up to allow Proximex Surveillint to bi-directionally interface, communicate and integrate with all Avigilon Control Center HD systems. The Avigilon HD platform integration module for Surveillint lets security operators view live and recorded video and then relate that video with data from other physical security systems such as access control, fire and intrusion.

"Sports arenas, like other types of public assembly facilities, are sensitized and vigilant in quickly responding to incidents involving their fans, guests and employees," said Dave Tynan, vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Avigilon. "The integration between Avigilon High Definition video systems and Proximex Surveillint provides security operators the potential of instantaneous access to indisputable video."

Security in stadiums and public venues has come a long way. End users continue to looking at what technology can offer them and are turning to systems integrators to help them deploy the latest solutions that allow them to be proactive in their approach.


Technology providers Arecont Vision, Theia Technologies and Verint Systems provided the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) with a number of technological components for the video surveillance system. The system covered 300 to 400 temporary structures of the event, including the Alltech Experience Pavilion and the Kentucky Experience, which housed the welcome center, as well as an exhibit, product and entertainment pavilion. Security included the following components:

- Verint Nextiva platform deployed within the command and control center
- Verint cameras
- Arecont Vision megapixel cameras
- Theia Technologies ultrawide angle lenses
- EMC CLARiiON CX240 with 200TB of storage using SATA drives


By Mark Moran, IR Security Technologies

Here are some things that integrators working with venue operators should propose:

Perimeter control: Security should establish a 500-foot outer perimeter around the stadium. Security needs to lock down the stadium, have police patrol before and after events, establish a secure inner perimeter and secure vulnerable systems with locks and seals.

Access control: Venues should continue prohibiting items such as coolers, large backpacks and weapons. They should publicize inspections and prohibited items, locate security personnel and law enforcement at each entry point, identify coaches and players entering locker rooms and restricted areas and reserve the right to inspect any deliveries to any event area.

Credentialing: Credentials should be worn at all times and be substantially different from those used in prior sessions. Venues should maintain a record of people issued credentials.

Physical protection systems: Establishing a 100-foot inner perimeter, utilizing barriers and having digital camera monitoring capabilities are highly suggested. The stadium and press box should be equipped with an Integrated Security Management System consisting of CCTV, access control and alarms.

Risk management: Developing risk management plans for events and completing these plans in conjunction with local law enforcement are very important. Weekly game management meetings addressing risk management issues should be conducted frequently and risk management training should be conducted with all game day staff.

Emergency management: Emergency management is critical, especially the development of an emergency response plan, evacuation plan, disaster plan and emergency medical plan. Emergency response plans should be coordinated with local, state, and federal emergency management agencies. A primary and secondary security command and control center should be established, having a view of the playing field to facilitate decision-making.

Recovery procedures: Identifying security needs and having written contracts or mutual aid agreements in effect with local and out-of-state emergency responders are of the highest importance. Contracts should be in place for immediate restoration and secondary locations identified to hold event bookings.

Communications: Identify a chain of command, providing a sequence of notification, having access to handheld radios and possessing reliable communication systems with backups in place. The command center should have direct access to the emergency communication system and maintain reliable communications with the PA/video staff in order to authorize emergency scripts and messages.

Security personnel: Security personnel, provided by licensed and certified providers, should be included in all training and planning activities to ensure they are aware of their duties and responsibilities. All personnel must have a background check.

Training, modeling and simulation: Training should be provided in several areas including inspection procedures to security staff, credential recognition to access control personnel and security awareness to ushers, vendors and volunteers. Conducting evacuation simulations, practicing emergency drills prior to season and conducting table top exercises are highly important. During training scenarios, planners should test the chain of command, decision making process, primary/secondary communications and emergency use of the PA and video systems.

Toxic material protection: All potentially dangerous chemicals or materials must be permanently removed from the sport stadium. Toxic materials protection and decontamination should be part of the emergency response and evacuation plans. Campus police and safety officers need to be trained to the Weapons of Mass Destruction/Hazmat awareness levels.

Wireless: In any wireless discussion, things to consider must include: 900 MHz versus 2.4 GHz; security versus range; battery considerations; encryption; and dynamic channel switching. In addition, be aware that lockdowns can be an issue with wireless.