Whichever two competitors square off at Dolphin Stadium Feb. 7 in sports' greatest spectacle — Super Bowl XLIV - each will have epitomized the concept of teamwork in their quest to capture the NFL's Lombardi Trophy. This will be plain to see for the 75,000+ fans in attendance and some 100 million watching on TV. Not nearly as conspicuous yet critical to the enjoyment and safety of all is the equally cohesive teamwork behind the event's video surveillance system.
The key players on this team are Aware Digital, Sony Electronics Security Systems Group and the Miami Dade Police Department (MDPD) Homeland Security Section, in conjunction with the FBI and Miami Dade County Fire Department. The systems integrator, manufacturer and first responders have forged a special partnership dedicated to designing and deploying the best possible solution to ensure smooth operations in and around the stadium, which also hosts the Pro Bowl on Jan. 31.
"The system will provide added situational awareness for law enforcement on the stadium grounds as well as offsite to many different agencies," says Joshua Mann, president of Miami-based Aware Digital. "The system will be used for inbound and outbound traffic control, incident management and overall force multiplication."
The project entailed digitally encoding the stadium's existing analog cameras, converting them into IP and adding standard and high definition (HD) IP pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) and rapid deployment cameras using wireless transmission. These cameras will be augmented by the venue's approximately 200 existing IP cameras. It was critical to bring all the feeds into a centralized video management system (VMS) so everything that transpires will be readily available for live viewing and/or review by stadium security, MDPD and other responders and emergency management agencies.
"This solution was requested in order to provide the absolute highest quality video coverage and deployment flexibility for the Super Bowl, a worldwide event," says Mann. "Our company offered extensive experience with rapid deployment cameras, and the Sony HD cameras and encoder products, as well as integration of outside feeds to provide a single situational awareness platform."
That awareness will help authorities mitigate anything and everything from crowd control to potential terrorist activity — a heightened threat for this type of event ever since 9/11. If all goes off as planned, Miami will have successfully, and safely, served as the site for a record 10th Super Bowl.
Integrator Partners With Police
To say extensive planning and preparation goes into orchestrating an event of this magnitude would be an understatement. The site is selected four years in advance, and groundwork for the security component is laid out soon thereafter.
"The project was thoroughly planned through coordination of Miami Dade Police Department's Homeland Bureau, Miami Dade Fire Department and the Super Bowl Security Coordination Committee, which is comprised of police, fire, emergency management and other federal agencies," says Mann, whose company specializes in integrated solutions using IP video, wireless and mesh security technologies for commercial, gaming, government and law enforcement customers.
Aware Digital's extensive experience working with public agencies in Miami Dade County, and other local and state agencies and municipalities worked to its favor. The integrator bid and was awarded the Super Bowl project by MDPD, which allocated some its own budget as well as grant proceeds to fund the initiative.
Aware Digital Director of Tactical Field Operations Adan Canuelas (left) and President Joshua Mann (right) discuss the surveillance system plan with MDPD Detective Juan “Johnnie” Villalobos on Dolphin Stadium’s field. Miami is hosting its 10th Super Bowl.
For Aware Digital, a big part of its success can be attributed to relationship building. In this case, it is something the security contractor had been cultivating with MDPD for some time, having provided equipment and services several times prior.
"We have worked with Aware Digital for more than two years now. They have always helped me out whenever I needed anything for other events such as the Miami Dade County Youth Fair," says Detective Juan "Johnnie" Villalobos, a 23-year veteran of the force who is coordinating the department's surveillance system efforts for this event.
According to Mann, his company has recently seen a particularly strong opportunity in collaborating with law enforcement to leverage advanced security solutions as a means to fortify crime-fighting efforts.
"The role of technology is growing in all aspects of law enforcement. Cutting-edge solutions allow our men and women on the front lines to perform their jobs better and more efficiently, as well as be in more places at the same time," he says. "The key is understanding the actual, in-the-field needs of law enforcement and creating solutions that are complex yet easy to use."
In addition to having its finger on the pulse of law enforcement, Aware Digital has established a track record of providing services for large-scale events involving as many as 100,000 or more people. Among the firm's recent credits are the NASCAR Championship in Homestead, Fla., Wings over Homestead Air Force Air Show and National Mayor's Conference.