Smile, You’re on Camera – Advances in
surveillance technology bring new tools to venues
Author: Amanda Pennington
Date: November 01,2007
The days of VHS tape are quickly coming to an end. As security
threats become more sophisticated, the demand for high-tech
security solutions continues to grow. Digital video systems have
become the new standard as a means to quickly compile and store
large amounts of video data, but recent technological breakthroughs
have created a new generation of “smart surveillance”
equipment.
         
           
Leon Chlimper, vice-president of systems for Bosch Security
Systems, said the new standard in surveillance is intelligent video
motion detection, or IVMD.
      
           
IVMD uses advanced analysis of what’s being recorded to
pinpoint and detect specific moving objects while ignoring other
unwanted images. This could help security officers go through
recordings more quickly, thus determining a threat to the safety
and security of the venue, Chlimper said. Using algorithms, the
device can adapt to changes in the environment, including weather
and lighting. A security manager can input a set of parameters,
including what size object he wants the system to pick up and the
speed and direction in which it
moves.           
           
“You could tell the system you want to look at everything
that stops in an area and if it stays for more than two minutes,
it’ll give an alarm,” Chlimper said. “It’s
a proactive
approach.”          
           
If, for example, there’s a drop-off zone at a venue, a
manager can tell the system to look for everything that stops off
in that area for more than two minutes, or whatever time limit
would be appropriate for the venue. If something stops there for
more than the allotted time, an alarm will sound and the video will
come up.    
           
To install this technology, venues need to purchase licenses from
Bosch and although Chlimper said it’s very difficult to give
pricing information without knowing specifically what a venue may
need, the licenses can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 per video
screen.         
           
“All it takes is one fake lawsuit for somebody tripping in
the hallway or burning themselves with coffee to pay for an entire
system,” said Dave Fowler, vice-president of VidSys.
“If you’ve got video in your environment, you’re
in a better position about why or why not that situation did or
didn’t happen.”
      
           
Although it’s not ultra-new technology, in order to have an
IVMD or to maximize the efficiency of a security command center, a
system must be equipped with a digital recording system and
closed-circuit TV, security experts agreed.
          
           
Petco Park in San Diego uses a security arsenal that includes a set
of Bosch digital recorders hooked up to closed-circuit TV screens,
and a few IMVD licenses, which have helped security efforts
tremendously. He could not comment on how much the stadium paid for
the new
system.         
           
During the San Diego Padres’ 2004 inaugural season at Petco
Park, Ken Kawachi, director of security, used VHS tapes and VCRs,
which he said were more than lacking. During that season, the
system’s downfalls became immediately apparent when a fight
broke out in the grandstand – an altercation Kawachi called one of
the scariest incidents at the park.  
           
In the midst of the fight, the two fans found themselves wedged
against a railing, but when they played back the tape, they
weren’t able to see it with clarity, which hindered the
investigation, Kawachi said.    
           
“If we had an incident in one of the stands and the police
came back to us and said, ‘Hey, can you play us back this
tape,’ it was nearly impossible and when we did play it back
it was frame-by-frame, which was inadequate for what they were
asking us for
[evidence].”           
           
Before the upgrade, the park used fixed black and white cameras and
after the upgrade Kawachi was so pleased that the security officers
could actually control the movement of the cameras. It also freed
up loads of space at the park.     
           
“Basically we used 12 tapes a day and they were eight-hour
tapes and we had four VCRs that would record,” Kawachi said.
“We had a room full of these 365, 12-tape packages just
sitting there…. Now being able to record digitally –
it’s leap years from where we
were.”         
           
Convergence is a buzz word among security professionals and one way
to converge all this technology and to use it efficiently is by
installing wireless systems, which can also eliminate the cost of
cabling through an entire venue, said Ray Shilling, AvaLAN Wireless
vice-president of sales and marketing. The company can help change
an organization’s system from cable to wireless or install
the wireless technology from
scratch.         
           
Not only can a wireless system integrate networks, much like it
could at a home or office network, Shilling said the wireless
network could help with access verification throughout a venue,
linking every door in a stadium to the central security command,
for example.  
           
When a venue has a new hire “venues may not want that person
to have access to all the doors immediately and conversely, when
you fire someone you need to turn off their access
instantly,” Shilling said. “What used to happen is you
had to go to every single door and deactivate their [access]
card.”   
           
With wireless connection over the “Network,” the
deactivation or activation process would be as easy as a click of
the mouse because the Ethernet technology has no physical
obstacles, Shilling said. Wireless audio and video access
verification can happen for about $250 or $300 per location,
although that number is not fixed, Shilling
said.    
           
“Flash forward three to five years and the standard will be
[wireless] network-based,” Shilling
said.        
           
The next step in the security world will be more collaboration
between private security staff and public law enforcement or fire
officials. 
           
When a fire alarm goes off, the right VidSys software can patch the
security staff through to the fire department. An added piece of
technology can also link the digital video straight through to fire
officials so they know what they’re up against, and whether
an evacuation is necessary, when they arrive. 
           
“You see pretty quickly that safety and security is not a
single activity, it’s actually an integrated collection of
technology and people,” Fowler said. “The whole goal of
our software is to make the people smarter by giving them an
analysis of the data instead of just raw
data.”         
           
In the wake of 9-11, school shootings and the threat of natural
disasters, it’s become easier to monitor who has gone in and
come out of secured areas, which could be especially helpful if
something disastrous happened. 
           
Keeping track of venue staff can also help keep secured areas more
secure. DAP Technologies is in talks with major Las Vegas casinos
that may be interested in the company’s rugged handheld
computers, said Bill Patterson, Western United States business
development manager for DAP.    
           
The casinos could divvy out smart cards to the staff, which would
then provide a series of identifying information so the card
couldn’t be used by anyone else. This could be especially
helpful in areas of the casino where large amounts of money are
exchanged.        
           
DAP Technologies have created systems with cards and computers for
first-responders, as the city of Los Angeles will be doing with
DAP’s computers and the federal government has begun to
do.          
           
“If you have 30 people who went into the burning building and
checked in before they went in, you know they’re in there and
at the end of the day you can make sure they got out and everyone
is accounted for,” Patterson
said.    
           
A rugged DAP handheld computer can cost anywhere from $1,000 to
$4,000, depending on what configuration it
has.   
           
Although technology is getting smarter, there are some elements of
a security protocol that haven’t changed — the need to
deter criminals and would-be disturbers from the entrance
gates.    
           
Security Detection Western Region President Randy Smith has helped
secure some of the largest events in the country, including the
Super Bowl. The company has walk-through metal detectors, hand
wands and X-ray machines for rent and sale, depending on what best
suits the needs of the venue.  
           
Depending on location and number of units needed, rental rates vary
from $150 to $350 per unit for metal detectors and hand wands. The
same hand wands and metal detectors can cost $3,000 to $4,000 and
X-ray machines average $20,000, Smith
said.         
           
“All [the camera and digital recording] equipment …
could do very little to prevent a terrorist attack, but it could
certainly be helpful in determining what happened or anything of
that nature, but most of these threats are concealed and not
viewable from a camera system,” Smith said.
“We’re trying to keep the incident from
happening.”           
           
Smith said he and other company representatives have seen
deterrence in action at large events, where they put up signs
alerting patrons that they’ll be subject to search with hand
wands or metal detectors.
           
“Once the person reads the sign, we’ll see them touch
their pocket, realize they’ve got something in the pocket and
walk back to the car to get rid of it,” Smith said.
“It’s very much a deterrent.”
           
At the Orleans Arena, security officers often wand people at the
front entrance as well as the back door, which Steve Stallworth of
Orleans Arena said makes both the talent and the guests feel
safe.       
           
The tried and true seem to still do the trick, but Smith said in
the last two to three years he’s seen some venues become more
complacent about searching at the entrance.   
           
“It just takes one major incident to start
to weigh into everyone’s conscious again,” Smith
said.
 

Interviewed for this story: Randy Smith, (918) 629-3399; Ray
Shilling, (650) 641-3011; Dave Fowler and Rick Clarkson, (508)
485-2900; Leon Chlimper, (248) 876-1000; Ken Kawachi, (619)
795-5000; Steve Stallworth, (702) 365-7469