Integrators At Large

Integrators At Large

Kentucky Speedway, Yum! Center full of security surprises

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 are kept.

“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, instantly.”

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 of relationships.”

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 our network.”

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.

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