January 22, 2013

Video Surveillance at Sporting Events. Who’s Watching Whom?

They’re everywhere. The sports news anchor is in front of one conducting an interview outside the arena. Employees have them on their shoulders as they record fans doing silly things that are worthy of being posted on the jumbo-tron for everyone to see. How about the cameras that are actually capturing what we all came to see…the game?

Cameras of all types are all around us at sporting events. But we don’t always see the ones that are designed to keep us safe during that game and help plan for the safety of future events.

And it’s not just security cameras that are a key component to video surveillance at sporting events, it’s the digital recording software as well, and the network infrastructure that is in place. Not to mention the equipment in the control rooms such as multiple monitors that display feeds from several cameras on each screen at once.

So what are the reasons the sporting venues invest so much capital in video surveillance for their sporting events?

This can be partially answered when you examine who is attending these games. They are “fans”, which is short for “fanatic”. When 75,000 fanatics are tightly squeezed into one space for three hours for an important game, emotions can run high. Fights can happen.

Video surveillance is needed to detect disturbances in the crowd and for security to dispatch necessary personnel to handle these eruptions.

Unfortunately, due to the times we live in, terrorism is a concern at sporting events. Groups with ill intent see these large groups of people in one place at one time as an opportunity to do evil.

Video surveillance is also needed in special areas such as at turnstiles and at entrances and exits—crowd control can be a challenge in these spots and being able to provide proper staffing with the use of security cameras is essential.

Other areas of need include money-handling locations to monitor both employees (in an effort to guard against employee theft) and patrons who also may be intent on robbery. Parking lots are another hot spot where parties need to be kept under control and drug activity has to be eliminated, for instance.

We’ve mentioned some of the equipment used by sporting arenas—from cameras to monitors, but let’s get a little more specific.

With large crowds, high definition and clarity is important. The ability to zoom in on a section or even on an individual is crucial. When zooming occurs, often a grainy appearance can be the result if the proper equipment is not being utilized.

Megapixel security cameras allow for the operator to zoom in on objects and people with a great degree of clarity as the result.

This is essential for benefits such as facial recognition. Facial recognition is an important function at sporting events with large attendance since it can be used to locate known criminals or those that have been banned from the facility and have found their way back.

Although megapixel cameras allow for the operator to achieve better facial recognition than analog security cameras provide, it is actually the digital video recording software that is behind the technology, not the cameras.

Speaking of software functionality, another feature that it provides that is beneficial in sporting arenas is “people counting”. This is helpful for the aforementioned crowd control and subsequent staffing needs, to gauge the effectiveness of sales outlets such as pro shops by counting how many patrons are entering and exiting, and more.

And what about protection of the facility itself? Video surveillance helps prevent vandalism as well as apprehend those that commit it. Patrons feigning slips and falls are also a problem. Having video evidence of the incident can help prove that it was a bogus act if it was in fact done in jest.

Finally…are we forgetting someone? How about the players? Video surveillance protects them as well. If a fan in the stands hurls an object onto the playing surface, security cameras can identify that individual and apprehend him or her. Players are also at risk as they leave or enter the playing surface and are in proximity to the spectators.

The next time you’re watching your favorite team dominate the competition, and the game is a little out of hand, take a moment to spot a few cameras, think of all the needs that those cameras serve, and wonder where those covert cameras that may be watching your are hidden!

Thanks for spending some time with us today.


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