A Comprehensive Solution - The importance of having a reliable video surveillance strategy at a marathon

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A Comprehensive Solution

The importance of having a reliable video surveillance strategy at a marathon

The New York City marathon is hosted the first week of November with more than 2 million spectators, 50,000 runners, and thousands of staff and volunteers. When it came time to planning the logistics for a successful event for the world’s largest marathon, safety and preventive actions were the most important criteria.

In order to help deliver a safe and successful marathon, a comprehensive surveillance system needed to be installed through the five boroughs of New York City. Installing a temporary video surveillance system across a 26.2 miles course is no small feat. With no room for error, the chosen surveillance system needed be able to protect against potential threat and increase overall situational awareness.

Seneca was chosen to provide the video surveillance hardware including the network video recorder and client viewing stations for recording and monitoring at the event.

On a traditional install, contractors have months to plan, install, test, and commission all required communication infrastructure. On a temporary system, all aspects are truncated time-wise, with the installation time taking the biggest hit. One of the biggest challenges was providing a comprehensive system that was able to integrate multiple technologies without failure.

The communication of the network video recorder, variety of different cameras, video management software, analytics software, networking, and client viewing stations had to work seamlessly with no downtime or room for failure. Ensuring that all of the components worked together seamlessly allowed officials to monitor any suspicious behavior and respond to prevent any harmful activities; ensuring the safety to the New York City area and the marathon.

Project Solution

A range of different camera models were installed across multiple buildings, street corners, temporary poles and traffic lights to provide coverage for the entire route of the marathon. All of those camera feeds were processed and stored on Seneca’s xVault NVR.

With hundreds of video feeds streaming into the race’s command center through commercial-grade monitors were controlled by Seneca’s xVault client viewing stations (xView), which allowed command staff to control and monitor tactical camera operation and video footage. The race command center showed dozens of cameras feeding real-time data to race staff, incident commanders, and law enforcement officials to increase the overall situational awareness for the marathon. The monitoring center allowed staff members and law enforcement to observe the progress of the race from beginning to end. This solution contributed to the New York City Marathon goals to increase situational awareness and provide preventive action as needed for suspicious events.

The volume of runners and spectators increased through the park throughout the day which only meant that the video surveillance solution had to work harder. In order to provide coverage across the entire length of the marathon, the solution needed to have the ability to actively monitor all activity through the use of advanced video analytics. From time to time during the marathon, live video was pushed from smart phones to the race command center to view activities in more detail. This way the New York City Marathon surveillance staff was able to capture video footage by the senior staff’s mobile camera. This allowed coverage in areas that surveillance cameras may not have been able to capture, increasing the overall safety and situational awareness for the marathon.

“Having the ability to push live video into the field allows security personnel to fully understand, monitor, and react accordingly to each potential security threat,” said Toby Heath, business development manager at Seneca.

Outcome and Benefits Realized

Seneca’s surveillance solution of xVault network video recorders and client viewing stations that were deployed at the New York City Marathon played a major role in helping to ensure the safety and security of the entire event. A reliable video surveillance recording platform and high-resolution viewing stations that accurately portray the live/ recorded images are two key aspects to any effective video surveillance system. Without these two items, all other components bring little value.

The ability to actively monitor all activity and live video feeds through the command center was one of the most important actives in order to ensure safety for the entire community. Using Seneca’s client viewing solution the race’s command team was able to effectively monitor all activity and respond accordingly. The command team consisted of local, state, and federal officials who utilized the video surveillance solution to monitor all activities and respond appropriately to any events that occurred throughout the day.

The command center team was able increase situational awareness throughout the day with a wide range of activities. These activities allowed the team to provide surveillance monitoring to a larger area without having to increase manpower. This strategy started with the items that the New York City Marathon allowed runners to carry into the race, excluding any items that could cause any harm and/or alarm anyone involved in the race. The command center was very thorough with the process of monitoring the video feeds, obtaining necessary information, and disseminating information about any potential threats. Finally, situational awareness was enhanced through the use of social media. The New York City Marathon promoted using social media to post suspicious person or behavior through media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The strategy executed throughout the race provided the tools necessary to improve the command center team’s ability to make well-informed decisions in real time to ensure safety for the race and community. The ability to have features to zoom-in on suspicious objects and activities improved overall efficiency in deploying security enforcement officers. One of the most valuable tools for this success is the ability to push video/photos to all security/safety personnel of suspicious persons, objects or vehicles.

“Seneca was pleased to be able to provide the solution for the New York City Marathon for a safe and secure event without any incidents,” said Ron VanTassel, market development manager, Seneca.

The success of this New York City Marathon demonstrates the importance of having a well thought out surveillance strategy for large public events. The surveillance strategy for the marathon covered every aspect from the proper positioning of surveillance equipment, and security personnel to the communication of increased surveillance measures to the public.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Security Today.

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