Integrators At Large
Kentucky Speedway, Yum! Center full of security surprises
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Mar 01, 2012
Typically, you don’t think of Kentucky as a technological haven.
It’s better known for its rolling hills, thoroughbred race horse
farms and ladies with big hats. It is, after all, home of the Kentucky
Derby, the crown jewel of the triple crown of horse racing.
What you may not know is that in Sparta, Ky., there is a NASCAR oval—
or that for all the fast-paced performance that takes place on that track,
there is an equal amount of horsepower in the Speedway Motor Sports operations
center. Installer X7 Systems Integration made sure there was plenty
of boost to keep security operations rolling.
As an integrator, X7 seems to have a foothold in Kentucky; in addition
to playing a key role in all things security at the Kentucky Speedway, the
company also works closely with the Kentucky Exposition Center, the KFC
Yum! Center, and the Kentucky International Convention Center.
“Over the past few years, the security marketplace has become overrun
with ‘me too’ technologies,” said X7 CEO David Taylor. “So much so,
that in many ways, technology has become a commodity. Integrators like
X7 deliver value to our clients by knowing which technologies work, and
which technologies work well together.”
Working at Top Speed
And it’s the speedway that is the most intriguing. Speedway Motor
Sports wanted to include a pristine security system, but what it envisioned
and the cost to get it were miles apart; however, the Department
of Homeland Security and the Kentucky State Police wanted to make
sure security wasn’t an issue during NASCAR weekend or during the
Nationwide race series.
“From the control center at the speedway, I can see everything that is
going on, and the security staff in the control room appreciates the highquality
equipment that we have installed,” said Karen Bannick, command
post manager at the Kentucky Speedway. “We have nearly 150,000 people
attend race weekend, and our goal is to make sure there are not incidents
that affect the safety and security of the fans, competitors and speedway.”
X7 has been able to pull these types of security integrations because the
Virginia-based company has doubled its size the last three years, and because
it works with partners such as Dell, EMC, Arecont Vision and Next
Level Security Systems. X7 also has a great working relationship inside the
command center with DHS, the state police, the FBI, the FAA and the Gallatin
County, Ky., Sheriff ’s office. It is a virtual bastion of security from the
call, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
“During race weekend, this place (the command center) is hopping,”
Bannick said. “We monitor everything on the infield, parking and the practice
area, including pre-race activities and including the weather.”
In the Right Place
The speedway posted 32 cameras to focus on security. Raceway staff selected
32 Arecont Vision cameras because of the wide variety of cameras
they would be using and so they could pan the crowd, tilt to various angles
and zoom in on any incident. Most of the cameras are located on the central grandstand, and a pair of cameras (5 megapixels each) are located on the
elevator towers. From each camera, the video streams through a Next Level
Security Systems gateway to a browser-based screen. The 12 TB of storage
is provided by an EMC VNXE 3100, where footage of the weekends’ events
“Two years ago, we knew we had to examine our options to get funding
to make the facility safer and more secure,” said Maj. Gary Peace, who is the
deputy county sheriff and also the director of security at the speedway. “We
didn’t want to see bad things happen at the track, and we knew technology
would keep this to a minimum.
“With more than 150,000 people attending an event, a lot could go
wrong real fast. The speedway wanted to make the event safer, as did the
state police and the governor.
“We have four cameras that provide a megapixel 180-degree view of the
property. We felt it best to secure the entrances and exits—the places where
people go. My main thing was [preventing] the abduction of a child. I was
so concerned about this I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” he said.
For peace of mind, officials are able to use the camera systems in place
to watch all the parking, camping, gateways and storage areas, keeping an
eye out for fights and injuries.
“We can still add to the system, and we will,” Peace said. “We just go
back to X7 as our integrator and continue the work in progress. Inside the
command center, we assign policemen who have command center experience,
and they update us of any areas of special concern.”
This is exactly what Bannick wanted inside the command center: a group
of experienced law enforcement types who knew what they were looking at
and what they were looking for. And, with experience, a command center
employee could take control of the Arecont cameras and zoom in for a
more granular look at any incident because the Next Level Security system
allows streaming video to move at a higher, faster rate.
Start Your Engines
With all cameras and security in place, officials at the Kentucky Speedway
are prepared for their next test the last week in June, when NASCAR races
into town once again and the security team will be on high alert.
“We have to be on high alert,” said Tim Bray, the speedway’s director
of communications. “We recently installed 40,000 new seats in the lower
bowl of the speedway. It’s exciting to know we have a 32-megapixel camera
trained on the seating area and that we can identify anything, and anyone,
There are deep roots of NASCAR in Kentucky. The amount of news coverage
at the speedway demands world-class security. The event pulls patrons
from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville and Lexington, not to mention
the surrounding communities, and all guests expect to have a good
time, under the standard of safety and security.
“We want to make sure the facility is comfortable for the fans, but
we also have our job to do, as well,” Peace said. “We have more than 200
troopers that help secure the facility and the surrounding camping areas.
More boots on the ground and better security equipment add to the level
of comfort in providing security.”
Back down in the city—Louisville, that is—X7 has another set of installs
that is critical to a fan base. The exposition center and the international
convention center get a lot of traffic, but it’s the Yum! Center that gets the
rave reviews. This is where the University of Kentucky plays basketball, and
more often than not, the sporting news is focused on the Cardinals.
“To deliver enterprise security solutions to sophisticated clients requires
a complete understanding of the interdependencies created when
integrating discreet technologies,” said Paul D. Garver, president of X7.
“Once understood and addressed, the complete solution leverages the
best aspects of each technology to create a seamless solution.”
The Yum! Center was built by Mortenson Construction, but the impressive
part of the construction was X7’s ability to do its part right the first
time, sans any type of punch list or do-overs. The facility has more than 100
cameras in place, and some from the rafters are able to pinpoint fans on the
front row of the arena with complete clarity.
“This truly was about teamwork from start to finish,” said Antonio Volpe, senior project manager for
X7. “When the engineers saw how
well Verint’s Nextiva video management
solution and the Arecont
Vision cameras worked, they
jumped on it. All said and done,
the customer was happy, and we
respect and encourage these types
The customer relationship started
years ago when X7 began its
work at the convention center. The
state-owned facility, dubbed Freedom
Hall, was built in 1951 and
has 1.4 million square feet of space.
Years later, security became a must
not only on the tradeshow floor but
at entrance and exit doors, as well as
at shipping docks to the outside. At
first, covert cameras were installed,
but then Arecont came along with
industrial-grade megapixel cameras
that passed every test. They
were selected and installed. Lobby
areas were given 180-degree cameras,
which offer a full view. In all,
55 cameras have been installed, and
more are planned.
“We currently are working on
increasing our storage capacity,”
said Alicia Montgomery Dunlap,
director of IT at the convention
center. “We’re working with X7 to
ensure we go about this the right
way and with the right equipment.”
At the Kentucky Exposition
Center, cameras have been installed
at the entrance gates because, believe
it or not, horse rustling still
remains a viable problem. The mix
of cameras includes some analog
that plug into an encoder, and at the
six traffic gates, officials are able to
read license plates; with more than
a half-million visitors for the state
fair, anything could happen.
Security must be aware of the
movement of horse trailers. It’s not
unheard of that a trailer on one side
of the parking area could find itself
on the other side of the lot, only to
be stolen at a later date.
“People now know that there is
a camera in the sky that is tracking
everything,” Dunlap said. “The
camera can see the entire plaza and
the front of Freedom Hall. All this is
tied to a very sophisticated network
that is catching everything—and
storing it securely in the network.
“It is all about the network for
us. X7 helped make it possible with
the right equipment attached to
A lot of people talk about integration,
but the systems in place
in downtown Louisville, and at the
speedway in Sparta, are truly integrated.
One would not survive
without the other—or better put,
the sum of all equal parts make one
heck of a great security system.
This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Security Today.