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Keeping an eye on the security ball

31 July 2012

Among the multitude of details that must be addressed in putting on a football match are those associated with basic security, and that’s the concern of Tate Security Technology, who has employed some innovative technology to keep their systems connected.

The laws regulating stadium management are very strict because concern for public safety must be paramount. At sporting events the sheer volume of people means that crowd control and environmental safety are every bit as important as access and concessions.

Fire, unruly crowds, overcrowding and even terrorist attacks are just a few of the potential threats that can turn an otherwise enjoyable sporting event into an unpleasant or even dangerous ordeal. Tate Security’ business is to take crowd safety very seriously. For that reason, they are always seeking out new ways to improve safety, and it was during such a search that they discovered a way to create a cost effective HMI/SCADA-based security solution.


The Challenge

Tate Security manages approximately 24 stadia altogether, but in 2005 they began employing InduSoft – a connectivity solutions company - to assist with the task of managing, these complex facilities. A typical facility has multiple systems such as closed circuit TV cameras, gate release locks in various locations, and turnstile monitoring to assist with traffic flow and capacity regulations. All of these systems have to work together in order to ensure public safety and regulatory compliance that compose the Green Guide.

Obviously, the stadium cannot be monitored with any degree of meaningful detail at a macro level, so the stadium is divided into sectors. Each sector must be monitored and the management staff must ensure that each sector is monitored in a coordinated way. Information such as how many people are in a particular area is critical to the staff, who must also constantly remain alert to conditions in the stadium. In the event of a fire or an out-of-control crowd, action to protect all attendees must be taken immediately.

That’s not the only concern, however. As fans arrive, the control room staff must understand how quickly the stadium is filling up. It’s not unusual for entry rates to approach or even exceed 1,000 people per minute. Obviously, allowing enough time to fill the stand safely without exceeding capacity can be very complex for a crowd in numbers that dwarf the individuals trying to manage access.

Compounding that problem is the need to ensure that only ticketed attendees are allowed entrance. The stadium must be equipped with multiple access points, because in the event of an emergency, the stadium must be emptied quickly and safely. The problem with multiple access points is that the more access you provide, the more difficult it is to control those points in a coordinated way.

Tate also needed an upgrade path for clubs that employed turnstile and gate release safety systems previously installed by Tate Security over the past 20 years.


The Solution

Given all these requirements, Tate Security turned to InduSoft and its InduSoft Web Studio offering to implement an HMI/SCADA system at the football stadia in Liverpool, Chelsea, and Sunderland. According to Richard Williams, Technical Director at Tate Security: “What we really needed was to enhance our existing stadia software with a complete facilities management system - one that would help us visualise an entire stadium, and then allow us to selectively monitor individual sectors or even multiple sectors concurrently. InduSoft enabled that capability and more.”

The InduSoft offering, InduSoft Web Studio, is a Rapid Application Configuration Environment (RACE) that allowed them to quickly create the system they needed. The primary screen displays a global representation of the stadium along with overall traffic and seating data that is acquired from turnstiles as attendees enter the stadium.

The global view is continually updated to show flow rates for each section, the number of fans that have entered, and the total number of attendees as a percentage of capacity. The screen even breaks down seating into Home fan and Away fan seating. There’s also a control for programming the time turnstiles open and close.

As attendees enter and leave the stadium the system constantly updates the statistics and allow management staff to drill down and view details about each turnstile. With the click of a mouse, a safety officer can simultaneously monitor the flow rate and seating statistics for both the stadium at large and for specific turnstiles of interest.

All this data can then be compiled and stored as a report – a valuable tool for managing future events. The system provides both In Match reports and End of Match reports. In the event of some incident, such as an unruly crowd, Tate has a complete record of incoming and outgoing traffic patterns and flow for each section. These reports can then be used to allay any concerns that might be raised about overcrowded seating.

Another advantage provided by the system is the ability to understand and manage alarms. The alarm system notifies the staff about the status of turnstiles if they are not properly enabled or disabled. If, for example, a turnstile is not enabled at the preprogrammed time, an alarm is set and the safety officer can take the appropriate action.

Likewise, at the end of the match, all exit gates are opened simultaneously to empty the stadium as quickly as possible. Richard explained: “If the gates are not properly disabled at the end of the game or in the event of an emergency, an alarm is triggered. As a final safety precaution, the gates are equipped with a panic feature that enables the gate to be opened if the enablement switch fails. If so, that event is also recorded and included in the match reports.”


Results

Tate Security was able to greatly improve their ability to monitor and manage the stadia in Liverpool, Sunderland, and Chelsea. In fact, Tate Security has experienced such success with it is considering expanding into a whole new market. Its expertise in managing stadia is a perfect match for securing detention centers as well, and they’re now considering InduSoft for that endeavor.

At the end of the day, Tate Security is doing more than just providing a service to stadium owners. They are ensuring a quality experience for the owners’ patrons - a safe, enjoyable experience that will keep patrons coming back again and again.


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