The Prudential Center arena is the new home of the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils, the New Jersey Ironmen indoor soccer team and Seton Hall University’s men’s basketball team. Completed in November 2007, it occupies 850,000 square feet and seats 18,000 fans. It is the first arena of its kind in 25 years to be built in the New York metropolitan area.
Those who manage today’s sports venues rank security and public safety among their highest concerns. Yet, protecting thousands of fans without breaking the bank takes careful planning. Venue managers look to integrators who can reach outside the security silo for efficient, sensible and occasionally inventive technology solutions. They also value integrators who function as true partners in reaching their goals and controlling costs.
The Prudential Center operates all security and life safety systems from a central command center. Its general contractor sought a security integrator that could recommend and install a security management platform, access control, video surveillance, smoke control and fire systems.
The Edison, N.J., office of Johnson Controls stepped in with a broader proposal. Johnson Controls acquired building equipment manufacturer York International in 2005. York, a longtime advertiser with the New Jersey Devils, brought a trusted relationship to the table, which enabled the Johnson Controls team to propose a solution that transcended security and life safety.
The proposal involved taking responsibility for both the fire and security systems, along with building controls and equipment. The bundle of these offerings saved the Prudential Center significant installation costs. It also kept a complicated and time constrained project on track, with all systems being brought online in 10 months.
Typically during a construction project, separate subcontractors bid on fire, security, HVAC, building controls and other systems. Each installs its own system and, many times, its own network. This can result in a great deal of duplication and overlap. No single entity has a 30,000-foot view of network infrastructure and specifications. Systems and equipment may not be ordered with the proper connections, resulting in change orders and delays. Opportunities for integration are missed, and little thought goes to future technology needs and how infrastructure will support them.
Johnson Controls and other integrators have begun consolidating these subcontractor functions. One “technology contractor” can take responsibility for any combination of low-voltage systems, including: building security and life safety and voice, data and business systems. Typically, the integrator will install everything on a converged network seizing on open architecture like BACnet, LONmark, SQL and XML to maximize opportunities for integration. As a result, opportunities for integration are rarely missed, projects go more quickly and smoothly, installation and material costs are lowered, and operations and maintenance are simplified.
The Prudential Center’s general contractor was delighted with an arrangement that promised to trim costs and close scope gaps. Johnson Controls was brought on for the $3.5 million fire and security integration. It was also tapped to install the Metasys building management system and $3.3 million in York equipment including chillers, air handlers and fan coil units.
A Five-Alarm Fire and Security Project
Hiring a qualified team of skilled project managers was critical. By the time the general contractor brought Johnson Controls on board, the integrator had a bit more than 10 months to complete the project. The Prudential Center had already booked arena-packing rocker Bon Jovi for an opening night concert. The following night, the Devils would take to the ice for the first time in their new arena. The integration team had no time to spare.
The Prudential Center’s security and life safety systems feature smoke control and fire alarm integration. The integrator recommended a fire alarm system with voice evacuation, which is integrated with the arena’s sound and public address system as well as the arena’s house lights. In the event of a fire emergency, the system brings up the house lights and overrides the arena sound system. It broadcasts calming evacuation alerts and instructions throughout the arena, corridors and bathrooms loudly enough to be heard over crowd noise.
The Prudential Center has two intercom masters. One is located inside the security command center, and the other is located in the lot guard booth. Remote intercom stations can be found at the parking gate and service delivery entrances.
The main fire alarm panel and the firefighters’ smoke control panel are also located inside the security command center. Additional fire alarm panels are scattered throughout the facility. In a fire emergency, firefighters can access the smoke control system to ventilate smoke and pressurize escape routes with breathable air.
An All-IP CCTV System
The Prudential Center also tasked Johnson Controls with recommending and installing the arena’s video surveillance system. The building’s original specifications called for standard analog color cameras hard-wired from all points throughout the arena to a cross-point matrix switcher located inside the security command center. Johnson Controls recommended an alternative all-IP approach.
Given the many benefits of IP cameras, it is no longer a best practice to make unnecessary new investments in analog video infrastructure. Cost savings begin with installation. A length of CAT5 cable costs less than a bundle of coaxial cable, fiber, audio wire, control wire, alarm input wire, relay output wire and power cable. Once the IP network is in place, it is easy and inexpensive to install or relocate equipment. Cameras can reside anywhere on the network and require no special wiring or programming. IP video technology can deliver exceptional image resolution, and security directors have the flexibility to choose from several megapixel rates and formats. IP cameras also integrate far more easily with other devices on the LAN than analog cameras.
To address the high cost of installing analog color cameras in the arena, Johnson Controls proposed using Panasonic IP Cameras and Panasonic NVRs. All cameras are wired back to and powered by Power-over-Ethernet switches in data closets. UPS power sources back up the switches. Data then travels by fiber optic cable to the security console where a high-density gigabit Ethernet aggregation/distribution routing switch converts it to copper for use by individual workstations in the security console.
The lower cost of running standard CAT5 cable to data closets was the determining factor in choosing the IP solution.
A Johnson Controls P2000 access control system serves as the primary integration platform for the Prudential Center’s security systems. It also forms the backbone of the arena’s access control and identity management system. Badge readers provide individually controlled access to secure areas and elevators.
Johnson Controls also wrote an integration script allowing the system to integrate with the Panasonic cameras and NVRs. The access control system’s full embrace of open data protocols such as BANnet, Lonmark, XML and SQL enables seamless integration of video analytics and other security subsystems, building management systems, lighting controls, human resources databases and other business systems.
When the access control system registers an access violation, pan-tilt-zoom cameras train themselves on the breach. Security operators in the command center get a live video feed, and the NVRs record video at optimal resolution. The surveillance system is also programmed to trigger alarms in the system. Preset criteria, such as motion, can bring live video of a security event to the operator’s attention.
The integration team made live digital video available to the Newark Police as well. The police department has a mobile command center. If the center pulls up to the side of the arena, a network interface jack enables it to receive a live video feed from all 130 cameras inside the Prudential Center.
Other technologies deployed included: Panasonic camera housings and monitors; an EST Fire Alarm from General Electric that includes smoke detection and annunciators; Sentrol Door Contacts from GE; card readers from HID Global; and equipment racks from Winsted.
Safe and Secure
The Prudential Center’s security and life safety system is extraordinary for a number of reasons. The general contractor hired a single integrator that understood the synergies between modern fire and life safety systems, building controls and equipment on a converged network. The arena saved money and gained a technology partner committed to its full spectrum of goals. The integrator recommended an all-IP surveillance system, which slashed installation costs and improved functionality over original specifications. Most importantly, the arena’s management enjoyed the involvement of a partner with the expertise, resources and project management acumen to get a large job done in 10 months.
The Devils, Ironmen and Seton Hall Pirates are now settled into their new home. Fans can feel confident that management invested in systems that maximize their safety, so they can focus on enjoying great sports and music in the New York metro area’s newest sports venue.
Ken Ferriter is senior vice president of Devils Arena Entertainment/Prudential Center. Steven Kappel is the Mid-Atlantic regional fire and security manager for Johnson Controls.