Music Festival Safety Coordinated with Milestone Video

Milestone Systems open platform IP video management software (VMS) is a core technology in the mobile event incident command unit developed by Unified Command as a temporary security operation center (SOC) that moves from one event location to another.

“Milestone VMS technology helps us unify all the facets of complex events into one centralized command,” said Chris Gandy, chief technology officer, Unified Command. “That coordination enables us to respond more effectively to emergencies. We’re able to quickly dispatch the right people to the right places which make events safer for everyone.”

The company hires local law enforcement, dispatch and emergency service personnel for 40–50 big events across the U.S. each year, such as the music festivals Hard Summer and Outside Lands, Coachella and Stagecoach. In 2013, Chris Gandy joined as chief technology officer. With nearly two decades of experience as a police technical detective in a major metropolitan police force, he has worked with video surveillance for years.

Freedom of Choice in the Components

Gandy’s list of must-haves for a VMS solution was extensive, from overall video stability to ease-of-use, to robust mapping capabilities – all based on a truly open platform. Milestone XProtect, his ultimate choice, met all requirements and exceeded most.

“A lot of manufacturers force you to buy their hardware, but with Milestone I use a Dell server, my own networking equipment and whatever kinds of cameras I want. I don’t like being locked into a certain make and model of camera or a specific brand of hardware; I make my own choices.” 

Fast Deployment and Response

Gandy reports that the ease and speed for Milestone to be deployed makes it an attractive solution, especially in an industry where speed matters: “We go into a field in the middle of nowhere, put up cameras and the next thing you know we’ve got eyes on more than 100 acres. For the people operating the system, it’s very user friendly and easy to learn.”

The primary benefit is better overall response to incidents that happen at events: overflowing trash cans, lost items, clogged entry and exit points, unruly and potentially dangerous crowds and serious medical emergencies.

“By putting everyone in the same virtual room through access to a top quality video solution, everyone involved in the event’s success is able to read off the same page,” Gandy said. “Without this way to coordinate, you would have all different facets operating separately. The Milestone VMS helps put the right people into the right places. Since we can all communicate with each other directly, we respond more quickly.” 

For example, when a call comes in that someone has passed out, the dispatcher in the command center uses the call’s point of origin to identify the closest camera and directs that camera to scan the crowd to the person needing attention. The dispatcher gives the exact location to the medics - which is critical when it’s dark out, strobe lights are running and there are no cross streets for reference points. As a result, the medics quickly get assistance to those in need, not wasting precious time searching a crowd of thousands.

The incident command team proactively scans video for potential problems. When people appear to have consumed too much alcohol or other substances, or crowds gather near perimeters perhaps preparing for “fence crashing,” Unified Command operators use the camera coordinates to direct security staff to the exact location, fast.

Efficient Ease of Use, Interactive Maps Give Pinpoint Precision

The complexities of managing incident response for changing event venues leave little – if any – time for training. Gandy reports that the Milestone VMS is very easy to use. “We can bring up multiple customized views for display on computers, mobile devices and the XProtect Smart Walls. It’s a big issue with a lot of security systems to know where the cameras are to get the live view quickly, but the interactive map in Milestone takes care of that: operators just click on an icon and a separate window pops up with the camera feed of that view.”

Gandy begins each event by putting a location diagram into the software and placing an icon for each camera on the computer-generated map. This eliminates the need for staff to look up confusing camera identifiers like North Parking Lot Facing South, which means nothing to dispatchers who don’t work in the area every day.

Mobile and Wireless for Situational Awareness

Unified Command takes advantage of mobile and wireless capabilities to coordinate among the locations within an event. Using the Video Push feature in the Milestone Mobile client, cell phone cameras can record video at points not covered by the network cameras and stream (‘push’) those images back to the command center via Wi-Fi. Milestone Mobile also streams video to iPads that Unified Command assigns to event managers, enabling ‘views of the entire festival they can carry in their back pocket’.

Gandy said that the Milestone wireless support makes it possible to set up the command center physically removed from the heart of the event. This ensures that staff can focus on coordinating services rather than protecting themselves during an emergency.

“Anyone we have connected to the event’s security network can easily and quickly see exactly what’s going on anywhere without having to get to the command center. That frees all of us up to focus on resolving whatever the situation may be.”

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