Surveillance Upgrade a Slam Dunk for Verizon Center

Read how Integrated Systems & Services Inc. (ISSI) upgraded the Verizon Center’s video surveillance system with 4K technology.

When high-definition video began to proliferate in the consumer home electronics market about a decade-and-a-half ago, one of the big purchasing drivers was the dazzling new presentation of sports broad-casts. Now the home video market is moving from 1080p to 4K Ultra HD resolution, and at least for the time being it’s streamed movie and TV content that’s fueling adoption more so than live sports. But the 4K video buzz is extending into surveillance and life-safety sector, too, and live sporting events – at least the venues that play host to them – may provide installing security contractors and industry suppliers the ideal setting in which to deploy more 4K.

For one camera manufacturer, Bosch Security Systems, the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., served as fertile ground to become home to the company’s first 4K Ultra HD camera deployment in the United States. The downtown sports and entertainment facility, which opened in 1997 and sits at the center of a neighborhood that saw $8.1 billion in redevelopment between 1995-2013, is home to three professional sports teams, an NCAA Division I men’s basketball team and numerous other entertainment attractions. The arena hosts an average of 220 events per year anywhere from 12,000+ to 20,000+ depending on if it’s a concert, hockey or basketball night.

The ability for security personnel to be able to pick out a needle in a haystack – or in this case, perhaps one baseball cap and T-shirt wearing 20-something fan among a sea of them – was good cause in implementing 4K Ultra HD technology as part of a full surveillance and video management system (VMS) upgrade that was completed last September. We talked to the integrator and security director involved in this project to dig into some of the X’s and O’s involved in the game plan and why 4K scored points with the participants.

Solid Relationship & Project Scope Understanding

This successful project’s seeds were sown in an example of how a relationship between security integrator and end user can continue to bear fruit for years. Steve Ludeking, vice president of sales for Eatontown, N.J.-based Integrated Systems & Services Inc. (ISSI) had worked on projects previously with Verizon Center Director of Security Ed Labonte (who technically holds that position for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Verizon Center as well as host teams the NBA’s Washington Wizards, WNBA’s Washington Mystics and NHL’s Washington Capitals). When Labonte joined the Verizon Center staff and was tasked with assessing the state of security at this arena in the nation’s capital, he turned to Ludeking despite ISSI being based a couple of hundred miles up the Atlantic seaboard.

“I had a relationship with Steve prior to coming here with my last job, when I worked in global security (for Gamesa Technology Corp.) and that relationship to me was very strong,” says Labonte. “You know when you’ve worked on your car you find a mechanic that’s good and you like him and you stick with him . . . so we talked about when I moved here if they’d be willing to transition, because it’s a little bit of a hike for them to come from New Jersey, but we decided to keep that relationship.”

Labonte, whose experience as a security director includes a stint for the Philadelphia Eagles managing physical security at their Lincoln Financial Field venue, started with the Verizon Center in January 2013. One of his objectives, he says, was to evaluate the state of the building’s security systems particularly with regard to access control and CCTV. During his evaluations, it became apparent that surveillance (and associated VMS) was the more immediate concern. For instance, the DVR setup the Verizon Center was employing only had capability enough to view one additional camera feed; and the DVRs themselves were disparate and clunky when it came to reviewing video on more than one at a time.

Not only was the existing technology an issue, but at the Verizon Center the security and life safety are amplified simply because of its physical location. Apart from the athletes and celebrity performers themselves, the VIP attendees aren’t your average crowd that may be sitting courtside or being escorted throughout the building; it’s a different sort of high-profile clientele in Washington than, say, Hollywood-infused Staples Center in Los Angeles or Wall Street-laden Madison Square Garden in New York.

“We have the opinion that being in the nation’s capital and the visitors that we get all the way from the president on down to blue-collar workers, we believe we should lead the way in what we do in our industry from a security perspective,” says Labonte. “Any given night we usually have a security detail in the building attached to somebody in a high-power government position or a foreign dignitary.”

The high level of clientele for this end user was not lost on Ludeking, as the Verizon Center provided a new type of venue for ISSI. The integrator’s bread-and-butter customers are in commercial office space, industrial power plants and out-door applications, warehouses, datacenters and smaller corporate spaces.

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About the Author


Arlen Schweiger is editor-in-chief of SSI's sister publication, CE Pro. He was SSI's managing editor from August 2018 to June 2023.

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