A Series All Its Own
A swarm of visitors means security must step up to the plate
- By Joe Kirmser
- Mar 01, 2012
Each year as summer draws to a close, the small industrial community
of South Williamsport, Pa., swells to accommodate more
than 300,000 visitors to the culminating event of the world’s largest
youth sports organization, Little League Baseball’s World Series.
Little League Baseball is the only youth sports organization to
be chartered by Congress. More than 2.6 million children currently participate in
Little League programs in every state and in other countries throughout the world.
From its origins in 1939 as a three-team Williamsport league, the Little League
World Series has grown to include more than 250 players on 16 teams, representing
more than 75 countries. The event is held at the 66-acre Little League complex,
which includes a headquarters building, five baseball diamonds, practice facilities,
housing, dining and recreation areas, the Howard J. Lamade Stadium (site of the
championship game), the new Volunteer Stadium, a conference center and the Little
League Museum. The headquarters building, which is operational year round,
houses all Little League administrative and business offices.
At a time when terrorism and random violence against ordinary citizens are
global concerns, the Little League World Series poses numerous and complex security
challenges for several reasons. Series participants, who spend up to two weeks
on the Little League campus, are children from multiple countries who speak a
variety of languages. The games themselves are held outdoors and are open to the
public free of charge. Furthermore, the championship games are televised nationally,
bringing them to a wider audience.
Now on Deck
James Ferguson, director of security for Little League Baseball International, first
became aware of Lenel technology when he saw a demonstration of the company’s
badging system, OnGuard ID CredentialCenter. Ferguson later approached Lenel
to inquire if the manufacturer could help Little League Baseball better differentiate
Series participants from one another. Lenel readily agreed to step up to the
plate by providing a badging system to issue secure photo identification badges to
200 players and coaches at the 1999 World Series.
A database of registrants was downloaded into the system before the games to
verify the identity of participants with the help of schools, parents and coaches. The
benefits of storing cardholder data in one central location were critically important
for medical and other emergencies that require the rapid retrieval of such information.
Series staff were trained in the use of OnGuard BadgeDesigner software, which
enabled them to produce a custom badge template. The Series staff members who
designed the template and operated the system were themselves youths, a testament to the simplicity of OnGuard’s
“The badges were the biggest hit at
the Series,” Ferguson said. “Prior to
that, we had no easy way of identifying
individual players. Each player wore an
official Series baseball cap, which also
indicated the individual’s team on the
back. The badges gave us a way to distinguish
individual players, as well as
volunteers and staff.”
The Relationship Continues,
the System Expands
Each year since then, Lenel has contributed
technology, supplies, services,
manpower and expertise to help safeguard
Series attendees and restrict access
by unauthorized people. Over the
years, the functionality provided by the
OnGuard system has grown in breadth
In addition to identity management
and badging, the Little League’s On-
Guard installation now provides access
control, alarm monitoring, video surveillance,
and intelligent video (analytics)
The flexibility of the design enabled
the integrator to install and run the
system on the Little League campus’
in-place computer network. The system
implementation has been cost-efficient
in both time and money, making the
most of the Little League’s existing infrastructure
Little League installed ILS offline
and wireless locks at its headquarters
and on the main stadium doors for media,
first aid, security, and merchandising.
ILS is the security industry’s first
offline and wireless electromechanical
locks that were built specifically for integration,
bringing traditional online
access control functionality to electromechanical
With ILS, Little League was able to
provide security for locations within
its facilities that were previously costprohibitive
or difficult to address. For
instance, sleeping quarters in Little
League’s Lundy conference center,
which has 14 bedrooms, were recently
secured with ILS locks, eliminating
the need for traditional lock and key.
And, because ILS employs stand-alone
power and an intelligent on-board internal
database, the system allows Little
League facilities to continue operation
and secure rooms even when power
and/or network connectivity is lost.
Each year, the Series takes place
during the last two weeks of August,
but preparations begin months prior,
and volunteers work up to 16 hours a
day the weekend before the Series begins.
Among them, two dozen Lenel
employees—including the company’s
president—contribute their time and
talents, pulling cable, mounting cameras
and getting the systems set up and
configured to ensure flawless security
operations during the event.
“The Little League World Series is
unique among sporting events, and we
are honored as a company to help provide
a safe and secure environment for
this international event, ensuring the
safety of the players, their families and all spectators who come to Williamsport each year to enjoy the games,” said Luis
Orbegoso, president of Lenel. “We are continually updating the security system at
Little League with state-of-the-art technologies, such as ILS, to ensure that Little
League remains a safe and enjoyable event that leverages the latest cutting-edge
Prior to the start of the Series, staff, volunteers and their guests can be enrolled
into the system via the Little League Intranet from anywhere in the world.
In addition, background checks are performed on adult participants, who must
be approved by Little League Baseball. Lenel’s Professional Services team developed
customized computing scripts that import information about each approved
person and create a badge record for that person in the database. Each participant
can obtain his or her identification badge upon arrival at the Series.
Over the years, the number of players, managers, umpires, grounds crew, facility
staff, administrative staff and media representatives who are issued secure
identification badges has grown to nearly 2,500 each Series.
Intelligent video is used for crowd monitoring and analysis of activity in particularly
sensitive areas of the sprawling campus. Among the areas protected are the
Little League Baseball headquarters building, the two stadiums and The Creighton
J. Hale International Grove—known as The Grove—where all 16 teams in the
Series are housed. Players and coaches spend much of their time in The Grove, a
fenced, wooded complex that includes dormitory housing, dining and recreational
facilities for players and coaches. Very few people are authorized to be in this secured
area—not even players’ parents are given access.
“The restricted area in The Grove provides privacy and safety for the participants,”
Ferguson said. “It’s a secure place where they can go to relax and get away
from the media and crowds while they are here. Of course, the players can leave
The Grove to visit with their parents at any time.”
Collaboration Helps Avert Crises
The integrated capabilities and centralized database of the system have proven
invaluable in helping local and state police, the FBI, the Secret Service and other
government staff protect lives, facilities and the campus grounds during the Series.
Among the real-life crises that the system has helped to avert:
- A player was diagnosed with the measles at the beginning of the Series. Using
access control, Little League staff were able to determine the identities of everyone
who had been exposed to the player so that proper medical intervention
could be undertaken before a major outbreak occurred.
- A child was located in a crowd of 20,000 by using a description of his clothing in
conjunction with OnGuard IntelligentVideo analytics.
Volunteer Tom Lyons, who serves as supervisor of electronic security for the
Series, describes the value that electronic security has brought to the games: “Everyone
understands why security is so important at this event, and we all work
together to provide the best safety and security measures possible,” he said. “Using
security management technology, we’ve been able to locate lost children in large
crowds, provide nighttime monitoring to critical security equipment and detect
items left behind.”
Integrated Security Provides Numerous Benefits
Little League Baseball’s OnGuard system installation has addressed a number of
limitations that previously existed. These include:
- Player identification. Prior to the implementation of electronic badging capabilities,
there was no easy way to distinguish individual players. Using OnGuard
ID CredentialCenter, photo ID badges are now issued to all Series participants.
- Crowd monitoring. Digital video surveillance capabilities help make the job of
monitoring huge crowds manageable.
- Safeguarding children. The photo ID badges issued
to Series participants are also access cards
that incorporate access control technology. Cardholders
must present their cards at card readers
installed at access points throughout The Grove in
order to gain entry to that area.
- Averting terroristic threats. Video surveillance
and intelligent video capabilities can detect suspicious
packages left behind or vehicles that are
driving too slowly, too quickly or entering a forbidden
area, and other activities that might be
out of the ordinary.
- Locating lost articles. Using intelligent video algorithms,
the system can help locate misplaced articles
and lost people. It can also detect items that have
been left unattended and are therefore suspect.
- Loitering. Intelligent video can be used to detect
loiterers after hours. The technology has also been
used during the off-season to track down youths
who are truant from local schools.
- Medical intervention. Using video surveillance, injured
or stricken individuals can be quickly located
so that medical attention can be provided.
- Guard rounds confirmation. Cameras can be fixed
on ATM machines and other high-security areas
such as police encampments to verify that the police
are making their required rounds.
- Evacuation to safe area. In the event of a threat or
other dangerous situation, a roll call (mustering)
can be performed using OnGuard Access, which
can report the current and previously known locations
of all cardholders, ensuring that all cardholders
are accounted for.
- Identity verification. Video verification can be used
in particularly sensitive areas, as follows: when a
person presents a badge to a card reader, live video
is displayed alongside the cardholder’s photo of
record in the database. This enables security personnel
to visually verify whether the live person is
in fact the cardholder.
“For more than a decade, Lenel has been an integral
part of the electronic security at the Little
League World Series,” Ferguson said. “Every year, we
have supported the overall security effort at the World
Series by contributing the time, talent and resources
necessary to make the event safe and enjoyable for all
of the players, spectators and volunteers.
“Our system has allowed the World Series to reach
the cutting edge of electronic security technology by
providing us with the latest in photo ID credentialing,
access control and digital video technology. As
always, the number-one priority at the World Series
is the safety and security of the participants. Little
League Baseball sincerely appreciates Lenel’s efforts
in helping us reach that goal.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Security Today.