Speeding Toward The Finish Line

Speeding Toward The Finish Line

NASCAR racing team enhances fan experience while maintaining a safe environment

The world of professional sports is exciting and constantly evolving. The sheer volume of events, athletes and fans, though, makes it seemingly impossible to secure the environment. Thankfully, security practitioners can secure facilities and manage crowd and fan behavior by employing a wide variety of processes and technologies that increase security but do not infringe on the fan experience. One such facility engaged in this balancing act is Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, a world-class NASCAR team based in Concord, N.C.

Owned by Chip Ganassi and partners, EGR is a two-car team competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the most competitive form of racing in North America. EGR fields the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonalds Chevrolet for Jamie McMurray, who won the Daytona 500 in 2010, and the No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Juan Pablo Montoya in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

In 2010, the team won two of the three championships it competes for and garnered 19 combined wins. The Sports Business Journal nominated the team for Sports Team of the Year, the first time a motorsports team has ever received such a nomination. From January 2010 to January 2011, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams secured several major race wins, including the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Many say winning these races in a 12-month period occurs only once a century.

Coordination for Safety
EGR values the use of technology to increase security at its facility in North Carolina and relies on video surveillance to deter criminal activity and to increase fan and employee safety. The facility initially used an analog-based system to monitor operations, but the quality of the images the CCTV cameras captured was not high enough to be valid for forensic purposes. Furthermore, the analog system provided limited coverage on exterior doors in critical interior sections of the facility. There also was no option to focus or zoom. Pete Wilson, facilities manager at EGR, determined the company needed to transition to cameras that could provide higher-quality video to enable the facilities team to evaluate incidents and respond quickly to emergency situations.

Wilson began researching local security systems integrators and met Jose Noy with ComSurv. Established in 1992, ComSurv specializes in delivering surveillance and security technology, including high-resolution surveillance solutions. Wilson was impressed by the company’s work ethic, client and technology portfolio, and technical expertise, and he quickly decided the company was the right partner for the job.

Customized Solutions
Noy visited EGR to determine how ComSurv could help the company migrate to an IP-based surveillance system. ComSurv carefully evaluated EGR’s analog security system, its physical layout and its risk landscape before recommending a solution that would best increase security and provide long-term value. In the end, ComSurv and EGR chose a decentralized surveillance system for its cost efficiencies, high-resolution video and simplified video management software.

A high-resolution camera with 3.1 megapixels records 30 times more detail than traditional CCTV cameras. As a result, larger image areas of up to 360-degree views are possible, reducing the number of cameras needed and the upfront and long-term costs. Unlike other systems, the decentralized concept incorporates a high-speed computer into every camera. This reduces network bandwidth because video is processed on the camera itself, and images do not have to be constantly transferred.

ComSurv installed 12 MOBOTIX high-resolution cameras to replace 16 analog cameras. The cameras are managed by MOBOTIX MxControlCenter, a video management software package that includes valuable features such as unlimited users, simple configuration and installation, layout editor for floor plans, and a user-friendly interface and camera view.

Noy said the entire solution enables EGR to record extremely detailed video clips and offers a substantial improvement in image quality. With the advanced capabilities of the IP devices, the company can keep a watchful eye on its facility and property better than ever before, while increasing safety for visitors.

Not only has the security solution reduced the camera count at the EGR facility, providing immediate and long-term cost savings, but the cameras provide crisp, clear images that enable the security team to investigate suspicious or dangerous situations and respond quickly. Furthermore, Wilson said the system is much easier to use than the previous one, and he doesn’t need to spend a significant amount of time checking the cameras or the system. In a matter of minutes, he can search a whole day of recorded video and easily find the correct video image.

More Power, More Coverage
Today, EGR has better video coverage on exterior exit doors, storage facilities, security gates and parking lots, according to Wilson, and the new cameras act as a strong deterrent as well. Overall, the security system maintains the careful balance of safety and fan-friendliness. He said visitors notice the cameras immediately— the devices stand out because of their unique look. “We don’t want our facility to look like a fortress, because we are focused on being fan-friendly,” he said, “but we need people to know that we take security seriously.”

In addition to finding the security system to be a perfect fit for the organization, EGR found a trusted integrator partner in ComSurv. The partnership proved so successful that EGR recently called on ComSurv to expand the project to increase coverage in previously unmonitored areas.

Auto racing is a unique sport because it encourages its athletes and owners to interact with their fans. As a NASCAR team, EGR is no different. It displays its winning cars and awards to its large fan base at its North Carolina facility. Although the company desires to protect its people and infrastructure, it believes it is paramount that these memorabilia be accessible to the supporters who elevated auto racing to the popularity it holds today. Technology is a critical component of maintaining this critical balance, and the combination of technology, people and processes, as well as strong partners, enables EGR to maintain its leading pace.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Security Today.

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