Leaders in High Profile Installs: An Exclusive Security Dealer Roundtable

Oct. 27, 2008
Panelists discuss security risks in places where large crowds gather

Susan Brady: In public sports/entertainment arenas or at events where large crowds gather, what are some of the risks dealers should be aware of that exist in these types of applications?

Cosimo Malesci, Director, Fluidmesh: I would say there are mainly two different applications that a dealer should consider when designing a security system for an area where large crowds gather. The first one is providing surveillance on a micro-scale so that single independent events in the crowd can be monitored.

These events could range from life safety, such as pinpointing someone having a heart attack or other health issue to spotting a thief or detecting the breakout of a fight. The second application is providing surveillance on a macro-scale such as in the case of an emergency evacuation of people in a stadium or an arena.

The surveillance system in this case could not only be used to monitor the flow of people in real time but also to control that flow by providing directions to the crowd and limiting the panic factor. This could be easily achieved by having speakers mounted next to each camera. By doing so, the surveillance system allows the local authorities to promptly respond without having to be in that specific area of the stadium.

James Chong, CTO, VidSys: In public sports arenas and anywhere large crowds gather, timely response is absolutely critical. These situations require managing the risk of false alarms, which are important to be aware of in order to know how to navigate them effectively and efficiently. This type of situation is where physical systems are tested to their limits, or as some would say, “where the rubber meets the road.”

In light crowds or in locations where there is not a lot of activity at one time, things are much easier to manage. So, for security teams dealing with high volumes of information involving large groups, the potential inability to manage the situation becomes a big risk. The larger the crowds and the more centralized a gathering, the higher the risk and complexity of being able to manage the situation effectively.

These types of applications present a unique opportunity for security dealers to help their customers in deploying best-of-breed security technologies while understanding the critical actions that are needed—based on priority. So a security dealer that can infuse physical security information management into the operations center will enable personnel to better manage the situation instead of navigating the underlying technology.

Ray Shilling, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for AvaLAN Wireless Systems: One significant concern is the damage that can be wrought by unruly fans developing a “mob mentality” at sporting or entertainment events. Young, often intoxicated fans, pose a greater risk for vandalism while pouring out of a concert or other event usually late at night and in an elevated state of excitement. To address this, hardened components should be installed at higher elevations of at least 20 feet, making it harder for the vandals to damage the equipment.

Often sports venues and/or entertainment arenas are located in urban areas or within suburban communities or near large retail centers, etc., which also have the potential to involve more risk. How does a dealer incorporate technology to address these concerns?

Malesci: In urban areas, the main concern is being able to prevent and control traffic. Having a location where large groups of people gather poses the problem of being able to direct that flow of people in and out of the area with limited effects on the nearby urban or suburban center. The risk of traffic jams or accidents in a situation like this is fairly high.

Chong : When examining urban or other high-density locations, the “how-to” of managing security information needs to be looked at differently. Because everyone knows there are vulnerabilities and higher risks in concentrated areas, information gathering and preparation are primary objectives to planning effective responses, making the requirement for pre-design of a security system of much higher importance .

Shilling: Wireless technology affords system designers greater flexibility in safely locating devices. For example, being untethered from the constraints of cabling allows the integrator to install surveillance cameras and motion detectors in more elevated and remote locations out of harm's way from those who could damage them. In the toughest neighborhoods, deploying bullet-resistant technology is important for protection of the device housing.

Brady: With some events, security has to be set in a quick time frame and also involves a large coverage area. Describe the methods of security that are needed and how they can be implemented in a short amount of time.

Malesci: Well, I have an easy answer here: you go wireless. The capability of creating a temporary surveillance system in a short time frame is one of the advantages of a wireless mesh system. By strongly reducing the wiring process, the installation process becomes extremely fast and non-intrusive. Such a technology allows a dealer to create a CCTV system for a day, a week, or a month.

Chong: What good is quickly-implemented security if it is unreliable? With these types of large, populated events and venues, security methods should center on using proven technologies rather than bleeding edge technologies. When involving a large area, in addition to rapid delivery times, you can not cut corners on reliability.

Shilling: Wireless remote technology allows organizations to rapidly deploy ad hoc security systems incorporating video surveillance, as well as access control devices to monitor access and egress. Furthermore, using wireless remote technology, a security solution can be easily scaled for any size coverage area for temporary events, and can be set up and taken down quickly. Long-range non-line-of-sight wireless technologies - such as 900 MHz transmission systems - are best suited for increased flexibility in placement location.