Padres Succeed in Mission to Convert Analog

As the San Diego Padres battled the San Francisco Giants to stay in playoff contention in their final home game of the 2004 season, tempers began to flare among some fans during the latter innings.

While most of the other 45,000 fans in attendance at PETCO Park watched the Padres going down in defeat, security personnel began to take notice of the growing commotion in the left-field grandstand. The disorder among several people quickly gave way to belligerence and then all-out fisticuffs. Police intervened and found it necessary to use pepper spray to subdue at least one of the combatants.

Ken Kawachi, director of security and transportation for the Padres, knew the police department would be requesting video from the stadium’s CCTV surveillance system for identification and visual evidence for any potential prosecution. Kawachi wasn’t optimistic he could provide the goods. In fact, without real-time recording, he was all but certain the VHS analog system failed to capture any useful footage of the conflagration’s participants.

“Going in to the 2004 season, we knew our surveillance system was very inadequate based on the advances in technology and what we needed the system to do,” Kawachi says.

An “inadequate” surveillance system may seem unacceptable for an otherwise state-of-the-art major league baseball stadium that had celebrated its grand opening in April of that year. While the front office busied itself during the off-season to reload the lineup for another playoff run in 2005, Kawachi and his department made plans of their own to come back stronger than ever with new surveillance capability. A program commenced to add and upgrade cameras over a period of time and to eventually equip the stadium with an IP-based solution that would record and play back in real-time.

Mired in Litigation, the Promise of a New Stadium Is Put on Hold
The PETCO Park project, the cornerstone of the largest downtown redevelopment project in San Diego history, was approved by voters in 1998. Fourteen lawsuits and a federal investigation prevented the city from selling hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds needed for its share of the construction of the $474 million ballpark. The city didn’t foresee the storm of controversy from using public money, which ultimately would derail construction for two years.

Purchases for the stadium, with classic architectural features not unlike Baltimore’s Camden Yards or Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, were made prematurely. Among them, a CCTV surveillance solution that was designed not long after groundbreaking in 2000. “Unfortunately, it was the system we inherited because of the delays in construction,” Kawachi says.

The stadium’s original all-Phillips (now Bosch) CCTV installation utilized four VCRs and multiplexers that recorded video from 36 cameras. “Most were fixed black-and-white. We were very limited on color p/t/z [pan/tilt/zoom] cameras,” Kawachi says. “When the system was purchased, VHS was still high-end product when it came to CCTV systems. But by the time the park opened in 2004 a lot of things were going digital.”

The brawl in the left field grandstand was just one example of the system’s shortcomings. PETCO Park management was compelled to launch an upgrade after the ’04 season.

Local Systems Integrator Selected to Overhaul Surveillance Solution
Enter Dan Brault, president of Electro Specialty Systems (ESS), a San Diego-based systems integrator.

When PETCO Park officials sought help to upgrade their near-antiquated CCTV system, they turned to Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers, and former home of the Padres. Officials there recommended Brault, who had installed a CCTV solution, among other contracted stadium assignments, for the NFL in 2003 when Super Bowl XXXII was hosted at Qualcomm Stadium.

Brault, a long-time Padres season ticket holder, has operated his company for 22 years. ESS designs and installs complete solutions for fire/life-safety, video surveillance, access control and communications. “We were familiar with his work and he came highly recommended from Qualcomm,” Kawachi says.

Brault signed on with PETCO Park in 2005 and soon began executing a tiered plan to upgrade the stadium’s CCTV solution over a four-year period. His first assignment was to begin replacing some of the dated Phillips cameras and adding Bosch p/t/z auto-domes with color day/night capability.

In all, 77 analog cameras now survey the entire exterior of the complex, stadium seating, clubhouse areas and more, including loss-theft surveillance inside the renovated 95-year-old Western Metal Supply Co., which stands near the left field foul pole. A portion of the venerable red-brick building now houses the Padres Team Store on the first floor and provides views of left field.

The second and third floors provide suites for group parties; the fourth floor features a restaurant with patio dining and great views of the field below. And on the roof, bleachers and standing space yield an uncommon perspective of the diamond 80 feet below.

Easy Installation of IP-Based System Does Away With VHS
A high point in the tiered program came prior to the 2006 baseball season. Brault’s team ripped out all of the original Phillips recording equipment from the stadium’s cramped security command center and replaced it with Bosch Security System’s IP-based VIP X1600 16-channel encoders.

Gone is a traditional management server. The VIP X1600 encoder uses iSCSI technology for storage to simplify the total video over the IP CCTV solution. The PETCO Park installation called for five of the units, each of which records up to 6 terabytes (TBs) of audio and video onto a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) 5 storage system.

“With the X1600, you record directly to the iSCSI,” Brault says. “You view and manage all of that through the Bosch software. It’s a 100-percent analog camera system. The only thing that is digital is the recording side of it.”

Brault says the installation of the new Bosch gear didn’t pose any special challenges and was completed in a couple of days. “It is such a simple thing to install if you understand the Bosch IP products. The actual implementation was pretty straightforward. We took the existing recording equipment out, cleaned up all the video cable, connected it to the encoders and connected that to our iSCSI device.”

The system upgrade now allows the stadium’s security surveillance crew to view live and play back in real-time. “Now we have the ability to quickly identify a location and clearly zoom in and record,” Kawachi says. “We’ve been able to clearly identify those subjects that trespassed onto the playing field and other incidents.”

Video Does Not Feast on Customer Network Bandwidth
Gobbling up bandwidth from the facility’s network to operate the new installation was never a concern, Brault says. With the encoders and the iSCSI in the same room, the recording never touches the customer network.

“That is one of the things we really liked about it. It means we don’t have concerns from the customer’s IT department about bandwidth usage,” Brault says. “There is no concern we are going to be interrupting the regular flow of data. And if the network fails, it doesn’t affect us. Our devices are talking to each other without the network being involved.”

The iSCSI devices and the encoders are all gigabit (GB) speed. As Brault explains it, “We basically daisychain the encoders from one to the next to the next — they all have two network ports. From the physical connection you start at the iSCSI. There is just an Ethernet cable that comes out of that to the first encoder and go
es to the second encoder, the third encoder, the fourth encoder, the fifth encoder, and then the fifth encoder is connected to the customer network.”

The last encoder is connected to a network switch so the customer can use a Web browser to view the stream, including both live and recorded video.

Coax and Stadium Retail Outlets Make for Easy Camera Hanging

Brault says installing additional analog cameras with coax and relocating others is made easy by the numerous IT closets located around most of the stadium. “You have to have that IT room within 300 feet of every cash register and all that kind of stuff,” Brault says. And he took full advantage of them.

Whether it’s food and beverage, baseball caps or pennants, there is no shortage of opportunity to spend your greenbacks at the many concession and retail outlets throughout the picturesque facility. “We’ve got equipment in at least 20 of the rooms,” Brault says.

A fiber-optic transmitter in each IT room converts the electric signals to light to accommodate the fiber run, Brault says. “All of the IT rooms run to a main phone room where there is a big fiber hub. From the hub you go to the security office.” Fiber-optic receivers then convert the light stream back to electric signal to accommodate analog video. From a matrix switch the signals go to multiplexers and finally to the encoders. From the encoders, it’s on to the iSCSI.

Communications Nerve Center Keeps Watch Above Centerfield

The PETCO Park surveillance system is operational around the clock with someone always at the controls of a bank of 13 monitors in the security command center.

On game day, things get bustling. “Three hours prior to the game we are conducting briefings and getting people where they need to be,” Kawachi says. Staffers in the small 24/7 command center, located deep within the stadium’s operations offices, will soon hand off responsibility for interior surveillance to a collection of personnel who will convene in the event management center (EMC).

With an elevated perspective above centerfield, offering a 360° view of the stadium’s playing field and seating, the EMC staff assumes their positions a half-hour before gates open. Besides stadium and contractor operations workers, among the eight staffers in charge of surveillance, security and life-safety concerns are the responsibility of a San Diego Police Department sergeant and a fire marshal.

By the time the first pitch is hurled, the EMC has become a communications nerve center. Each EMC staffer remains in constant contact with their respective team of personnel who are dispersed throughout the complex.

“We basically give jurisdiction to the EMC once we have it staffed,” Kawachi says. “You have all of your decision makers located in a central space. They have a clear view of the game and what is going on in and around the ballpark. They are able to quickly make decisions together, which is what a good command center should be.”

On five monitors, EMC members can view and manipulate surveillance cameras from a joystick command board. Whatever they survey on the monitors is being recorded in the downstairs command center. “They can move the same amount of cameras that the command center can. They can look at the same things,” Kawachi says.

Up to four fire marshals from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department are assigned to the stadium for each game. While the others are patrolling the stadium, the marshal assigned to the EMC serves as a dispatch liaison and maintains contact with the facility’s medical staff and roving fire marshals. Smart detectors, which can be programmed for either photoelectric or ionization smoke detection, are placed throughout all of the enclosed areas of the facility, including the stadium service tunnels, says Garrett Pryor, a fire prevention supervisor and deputy fire marshal who is often assigned to the EMC.

Along with sprinklers throughout the structure, an alarm system is hooked up to a central station to immediately summon the fire department in the event a fire breaks out.

“Being in the EMC I can then direct the incoming engine companies where the best place would be to stage and gain entry in to the park,” says Pryor.

Other security measures at the park include access control via a proxy card system for Padres staff and contracted personnel entering the front office, clubhouse, elevators and other interior locations. The stadium is equipped with a GE Security InfoGraphics’ Sapphire Pro system, Kawachi says.

Gazing into the near future, Kawachi says the next big step in securing the team’s home at PETCO Park is biometrics.

“We’ll begin the research, so when the time comes in the next few years, we’ll be able to make intelligent decisions on what kind of biometric we want to put in the ballpark.”

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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