CLEVELAND BROWNS STADIUM
We can literally see virtually every seat number in the house... the imaging capabilities of the Panasonic dome cameras are extraordinary without question. The Day/Night feature on the Panasonic Super Dynamic cameras also provides us with great imaging capabilities after dark.
Cleveland Browns Stadium, home to the NFL team of the same moniker, needed to substantially upgrade its current security system in order to meet the venue’s primary security objectives: protect fans, players, and employees, reduce liability, help deter criminal activity, and apprehend/prosecute offenders.
Requiring outstanding image-quality to identify perpetrators from long distances, stadium officials installed a customized package of more than 70 Panasonic cameras – including both those with the Panasonic Dome system and fixed cameras with SDIII technology – and upgraded their video control system to Panasonic Matrix System 650 with the highly-touted WJ-HD316 DVRs, able to support up to 256 cameras and 32 monitors with high density recording and full-rate live multi-screen resolution.
The exceptional imaging capabilities of Panasonic’s SDIII cameras, when paired with the Matrix System 650, gave Browns Stadium the high-powered surveillance network they needed and stadium officials the 360-degree coverage required to be able to monitor, manage, protect, and when necessary, apprehend effectively.
Things have changed dramatically since 1946 when the Cleveland Browns first planted their roots on the shores of Lake Erie at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The old facility was replaced by Cleveland Browns Stadium in 1999 - ironically at the turn of the millennium, signifying the dawn of a new century and all the changes that lay ahead. Cleveland Browns Stadium is a tremendous facility occupying approximately 1.64 million square feet with a seating capacity of 73,200.
Amenities include 12 ticket windows, 41 restrooms and over 100 concession stands, as well as back operations with locker rooms, lounges, offices and an infrastructure to support a small city. The technology employed to keep the stadium running smoothly and efficiently is both extensive and innovative on many fronts - including a heated playing field to extend the growing season of the Kentucky Bluegrass and help keep the field from freezing late in the season when lake effect snows and wind send temperatures plunging.
Keeping tabs on every movement within the massive structure is a cutting-edge Panasonic security system under the management of Ross Benjamin, Stadium Security Manager at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"Our security command center was installed during the latter phase of construction and included a sufficient number of cameras with an analog recording system," said Benjamin. "But as time passes, we continually encounter situations that require video surveillance on a 24/7 basis for both game days and non game days. This required us to look at ways we could increase our coverage with more advanced features and capabilities."
"This process started almost immediately after the first year of operations in the new facility. We identified recurring problems and the issues related with a continual stream of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It became apparent very early that we needed more cameras to give us eyes where we couldn't necessarily put people," continued Benjamin. "It also helped us to clearly identify our primary security objectives: protect our fans, players and employees; reduce liability; help deter criminal activity; and apprehend and prosecute offenders."
Before a new video surveillance system could be specified, Benjamin and his team needed to perform an extensive internal audit of their security needs based on their actual experiences in the facility. They also called upon the services of Integration Logistics, LLC., a Panasonic Security Systems Authorized Dealer, to help identify camera locations and coverage assignments.
"Recorded evidence needs to be indisputable for prosecution, so we wanted to deploy a system that could" said Benjamin. Benjamin and his team paid close attention to entry and egress routes for both pedestrians and vehicles covering areas within and outside the massive structure and surrounding grounds. Particular attention was focused on the four main gates where fans enter and exit events at the stadium. "The gates are the areas where we typically experience the most instances of people trying to illegally enter the facility on game days and off days. This is really more of an issue on off days when we do not have personnel manning the gate areas and security personnel may not be in the immediate area where an intrusion is taking place."
A combination of Panasonic dome systems and fixed cameras are strategically positioned around the exterior of Cleveland Browns Stadium to provide comprehensive coverage of the facility's exterior. "We can actually identify and track individuals outside of the stadium and dispatch guards and police as soon as we believe activity is about to take place. This allows us to operate very efficiently and deploy personnel when and where they are most needed," said Benjamin. "We have 360 degree coverage around the exterior of the stadium covering virtually all 31 acres of the property," continued Benjamin. "At times we partner with the Science Center adjacent to our facility and direct some exterior cameras on their facility and grounds to provide added surveillance. So if there's some type of irregular activity taking place, we can assist in monitoring the action and assist with personnel dispatch. It is a very effective collaboration."
"What's amazing is that the Science Center is quite a distance from our facility - at least a full city block - and we can zoom in with the Panasonic dome cameras and make identifications," said Benjamin. "We can actually make IDs on individuals sitting on buses right through the vehicles' windows. The image quality of the Panasonic dome systems is outstanding. We can even identify license plate numbers from this distance."
Security and operations personnel also take advantage of the widespread video surveillance coverage provided by the Panasonic system to manage both pedestrian and vehicular traffic outside the stadium.
"When a game is over, the video system provides us with the ability to monitor how and where people are exiting the area. It gives us a good idea of what we are dealing with in terms of how many people are on foot, how many cars are in our parking lots, and which roads they are heading for so traffic patterns can be adjusted. The police department periodically sends a traffic control officer to our facility to monitor the traffic." John Smolinski, President of Integration Logistics, LLC. , adds "The really big upgrade to the video surveillance system happened this past year when we upgraded their video control system to a Panasonic Matrix System 650 with WJ-HD316 DVRs."
Panasonic's Matrix System 650 offers simple, flexible architecture to support up to 256 cameras and 32 monitors, and can accommodate up to 16 WJ-HD300 Series DVRs which can be networked for remote surveillance on any personal computer. The system has advanced performance capabilities including a GUI control, and multiple point control employing up to 16 WV-CU650 System Controllers.
Additional key features include: PTZ control via coaxial or multiplexed cable, or via RS485 protocol; cable runs up to 3,000 feet without signal loss; simple set-up and board access; 1,024 alarm inputs and outputs with storage for up to 1,000 alarms; and up to 60 users with level and priority settings.
All of the action captured from the more than 70 Panasonic cameras installed at Cleveland Browns Stadium is recorded on Panasonic's highly touted WJ-HD316 DVRs. The units provide over 500 TVL, high density recording (60ips/120ips@CIF) with full rate live multi-screen resolution (60 to 960 ips) and a base disk capacity of 250GB that's expandable to 7.5 terabytes per unit. The units can also be cascaded to expand system capacity. With the addition of Panasonic's WV-AS65 PC Management Software and WV-CU650 System Controllers, WJ-HD316 Series DVRs deliver comprehensive networking capabilities creating an excellent hybrid analog and digital solution.
At the same time the Panasonic control and recording system upgrade was taking place to the headend in the stadium's security command center, Benjamin and his team designed a game-day control center overlooking the stadium bowl. The new game-day control center provides security personnel with a completely different approach to operations. Located on the opposite side of the stadium, the new control center features Panasonic WV-CU650 controllers tied into the Matrix System 650 at the head-end to provide access to and control of every camera in the facility.
An array of Panasonic LCD displays are mounted around the control room providing operators with the ability to simultaneously focus on specific sections of the facility while maintaining a visual surveillance overview. The stadium's cavernous seating area is completely covered by four Panasonic WV-CW964 weatherproof PTZ dome camera systems featuring the unparalleled performance of Super Dynamic III (SDIII) imaging technology. SDIII technology delivers dynamic range 128X greater than conventional cameras to provide outstanding image quality in virtually any lighting condition, and the processing power to continually adjust them in real time without operator intervention.
Additional key features include: Auto Back Focus which adjusts focus when switching from color to black-and-white operation and back again; Auto Image Stabilizer for camera deployment in areas that may be prone to wind and other sources of vibration; Scene Change Detection that sends an alarm when the camera's lens is obstructed or the camera angle changed without authorization; Auto Tracking to follow an individual's movements within the camera's field of view; 540 lines of resolution (color); 30x optical zoom (plus 10x electronic, 300x total); and extreme low light sensitivity in color (0.5 lux) and BW (0.06 lux). It's a combination of performance features unique to Panasonic SDIII cameras.
"We can literally see virtually every seat number in the house with these four cameras," said Benjamin. "The imaging capabilities of the Panasonic dome cameras are extraordinary without question."
"The Day/Night Feature on the Panasonic Super Dynamic cameras also provides us with great imaging capabilities after dark. The cameras automatically switch from color to black and white mode once light hits a certain level. This allows us to maintain high quality color surveillance operations during daylight hours, while allowing us to view great images across the darker recesses of the property without the need for external enhancements," continued Benjamin.
All images from the Panasonic video surveillance cameras are recorded onto seven WJ-HD316 DVRs housed in the security command center. During games, each of the four SDIII dome cameras are recorded on a dedicated DVR to deliver the highest recorded resolution in real time. The balance of the cameras are multiplexed onto the remaining six DVRs. The bank of seven Panasonic DVRs delivers over 10 terabytes of recording capacity.
"It all comes together on game-day when representatives from every aspect of stadium operations are in the game-day control center," said Carl Meyer, Vice President, Security & Operations. "They work in unison to get all the people into the stadium safely and efficiently by managing traffic at the gates, closely monitoring the crowd for disruptive activities, and by coordinating and supporting personnel deployed throughout the facility. We assemble all these different people in this one room, and it's amazing to watch them interact. We have multiple controllers and monitoring stations so different personnel can monitor different activities."
"John and Ken from Integration Logistics have spent a lot of time in the control center during games and came up with several great ideas to help us best utilize the capabilities provided by our Panasonic video surveillance system. Their suggestions have resulted in faster response times and overall improved safety," said Benjamin. "By observing first hand the needs of the operations team and seeing the pressure they are under during a game, we identified the Camera Position feature on the 650 to allow the officers to quickly aim a camera to any section in the stadium," said Ken Schafenberg, CEO of Integration Logistics.
The outstanding imaging capabilities of Panasonic's SDIII cameras are complemented by the functionality of the Panasonic Matrix System 650. "The camera preset memory capabilities on our Matrix System 650 allow us to program camera pan/tilt/zoom sequences based on the actual seating layout of the stadium," said Benjamin. "So if we receive a call that there's a disturbance in section 332, we simply enter '332' into the Panasonic WV-CU650 system controllers located here in the game-day control center and the designated Panasonic SDIII dome camera automatically zooms onto the section. The preset shot feature makes it almost instantaneous for our personnel to assess the situation. The Panasonic video surveillance system is very easy to use so our staff can concentrate on security and not technical issues. And the image quality from the Panasonic SDIII dome systems allows us to make identifications, as images from the units are perfect, absolutely perfect."
"We are also very conscious of liability issues once an offender is in custody," said Benjamin. "We have our own lock-up in the command center where we hold suspects until the police arrive. To get there, they need to be escorted through the back areas of the stadium which raises several different security issues including the possibility of a suspect breaking free from security personnel or making false allegations regarding their treatment while detained. As a result, we added more cameras on the interior service levels."
On non game days when the stadium is relatively quiet, the Panasonic Matrix System 650 is set to automatically tour every camera in the stadium. "We can program the system to conduct different viewing operations including automated tour sequences or group sequences which we can activate manually or electronically. And there are multiple ways to define and create event sequences which provide us with a great deal of flexibility while maintaining a close eye on traditional hot spots for activity such as the main gates and ticket windows."
In addition to the control and monitoring capabilities provided in the main security command center and game-day control center, all key management personnel have the ability to monitor any camera in the system remotely from their offices or any place they have Internet access. This remote functionality was accomplished by networking the Panasonic WJ-HD316 DVRs into the stadium's Local Area Network (LAN). Using a standard web browser and VPN connection, authorized personnel can gain access to live camera feeds and recorded data from virtually any PC located anywhere in the facility or around the world without the need for any specialized software. "I can connect to the Panasonic video surveillance system at the stadium from home," said Benjamin. "So if we have a trespasser or an incident takes place alter hours, I can pull up live or recorded video from home and burn it to a CD so I have all the documentation I need when I arrive at the stadium."
Connecting all the cameras, DVRs, control rooms, and network infrastructure is quite a remarkable feat in a facility with a footprint that covers over 31 acres. "The security system employs a lot of proprietary wiring that we've installed, but there's also a huge fiber infrastructure that was installed during its initial construction," said Smolinski. 'We've been taking advantage of the facility's fiber backbone since day one of the system expansion."
Feeds from the Panasonic video surveillance cameras situated throughout and around the stadium are grouped to a series of equipment "closets". In addition to being the collection hub where camera feeds and control signals are transmitted bi-directionally over multi mode fiber transceivers back to the security command center, they are the source for power distribution to the Panasonic cameras. "Electronic security was not really a priority when I came to the NFL in the nineties, but the owner of the Browns was extremely security conscious and understood the value it brings to an operation," said Meyer. "Today, every NFL team has a security department.
After 9/11, everything changed. The NFL inspected every pro stadium to ensure there were adequate measures in place. Alter they reviewed us and looked at the way we were doing things, our facility became the model for how an NFL facility should be running its security operations."
"The Cleveland Browns Organization is sold on Panasonic. It was over 9 years ago that Integration Logistics came in and recommended we go with Panasonic. Some of the original equipment they installed is still working great. I am very pleased with Panasonic and with the system solution they have provided to us," continued Meyer. In summary, Meyer stated, "It's important to note that in addition to the security measures in effect and the residual benefits we derive from them, one of our overriding management objectives is to provide a fan friendly environment; one where families can come to watch and experience an NFL game. Because it's really all about the fans."