Security Burns Brighter at Candlestick Park
A drop-off in system reliability and rise in high-profile violence at sports venues were in play as the San Francisco 49ers called a security audible and upgraded Candlestick Park’s over-the-hill video surveillance system. Integrator and end user explain how the migration to a networked solution has created a safer and more efficient game-day experience.
To maximize the effectiveness of the 120 surveillance cameras distributed inside and around the perimeter of Candlestick Park, IPVision encoded them with Axis Model 7406 and 7404 encoders, and replaced the existing DVRs with OnSSI’s Ocularis CS VMS solution. The product enabled the design of two video wall-monitoring locations.
“We chose Ocularis because we wanted an open architecture VMS with a full-featured client, and a video wall option for Candlestick Park’s two security operations centers,” says Green. “We also wanted a platform that supported all of the leading IP cameras from multiple manufacturers, and that had mobile client options available from other manufacturers.”
One of the operations centers is part of the press booth operated by 49ers security staff on game day in conjunction with the San Francisco Police Department. The second location is within the San Francisco Park Rangers office inside Candlestick Park. The rangers secure the stadium on nongame days and during the off-season. Both operations centers were set up with map-driven interfaces of the stadium.
“The system allows my ma
nager of game operations and security to pull up different cameras for different reasons. He can split screens to constantly monitor several hot spots while still monitoring the big picture, so to speak,” says Mercurio. “And the park rangers have been able to really dive into it without needing to read a 500-page user guide.”
OnSSI’s support and technical staff was intimately involved during the installation. “Our online calculators and other technical resources helped the integrator and end user select appropriate hardware like servers and storage,” says Vice President of Sales Mulli Diamant. “OnSSI was also involved in training operators after the software was installed.” (For more, see sidebar.)
The IP-based surveillance solution — which Mercurio says came at a cost of $75,000 to $100,000 — leverages a dedicated Cisco switching network infrastructure for security applications. Hitachi Data Systems servers/storage arrays were implemented for video archiving.
“Hitachi was chosen due to their advanced built-in I/O capabilities,” says Green. “They can handle high density video surveillance deployments, and deliver the I/O speed and reliability needed to optimize the performance in the Ocularis client for viewing live and archived video.”
Ready in Time for Kickoff
As indicated, one of the project’s top challenges was the narrow window of time to proceed between games in order to avoid any significant downtime. Like running a hurry-up offense during a two-minute drill, IPVision stepped up to meet the demand.
“The goal was to get the system operational in one week between home games. The challenges were overcome with a dedicated team that worked around the clock to meet the timeline,” says Green. “We started the installation in September 2011 and finished the initial system migration in a week. We then spent another couple of weeks working on some of the advanced video wall and map integration features.”
IPVision worked closely with the San Francisco Department of Parks and Recreation to coordinate access to the stadium without any potential delays.
“The timing was really on us because we didn’t have some of the funding in place,” says Mercurio. “I would not recommend doing this type of project during the season unless you absolutely have to, and you need complete confidence you’re not going to become vulnerable during the process.”
The finished surveillance solution enables 49ers security staff, law enforcement, rangers and other first responders to monitor and swiftly address a wide array of issues throughout Candlestick’s 69,732-capacity stadium seating, walkways, food and beverage areas, gate entrances, and parking lots.
“Ocularis’ flexible navigation allows 49ers staff to switch views and push camera feeds to other security staff to rapidly respond to incidents,” says Green. “With the amount of people gathered on an NFL game day, there are constantly activities being reported by fans either directly to security personnel or via a text-messaging system.”
Candlestick Park has partnered with In Stadium Solutions to provide text-messaging service for assistance requests or to file formal complaints. Upon receiving a text, a nearby camera can view that section and help assess what response may be necessary, if any.
“Back in the day in the command post, you worked through binoculars while you called out what you could potentially see. This camera system helps determine the appropriate response and how you want people to arrive at the scene,” says Mercurio. “It gives command post operators and dispatchers an extra tool to communicate with that is invaluable.”
Solution Performs Like Champ
Not only is the system enhancing security and safety, but it is delivering numerous operational advantages. Examples include monitoring assorted lines to facilitate better crowd control, dealing with accidents and medical emergencies, ensuring smooth vehicular traffic outside the ballpark and keeping an eye on stadium staff to maximize productivity.
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