Swinging For The Fence

Swinging For The Fence

Security community teams up to help secure 2017 Little League Baseball World Series

The Little League Baseball World Series (LLBWS) is the premier sporting event in youth sports. Every year, the small town of Williamsport, Pa., welcomes people from around the world to watch 16 teams compete, exhibiting the sportsmanship and true values of what the Little League program is all about.

Over a 10-day period, hundreds of thousands of people visit the 72-acre Little League International complex, which includes two stadiums, a museum, parking, concessions and a gift shop, sponsor booths, a concourse pavilion and a media center—not to mention security and medical facilities.

In addition to the public spaces, there is the International Grove where the players are housed, have their meals and hang out in the recreation hall. There are also a number of practice fields and batting cages for the teams.

“Security is obviously an important matter for Little League International and we always want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to monitor our entire complex,” said Brian McClintock, Little League International senior director of communications. “Year after year, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve and to work even more closely with the great companies and local law enforcement to make sure that it all comes together properly.”

All Eyes on the Prize

With more than 120 permanent network cameras in place at Volunteer Stadium and Howard J. Lamade Stadium, Little League International works to add new technologies each year to keep the installation as secure as possible. Last year’s system advancements included Axis 20-megapixel cameras, thermal imagers, radar perimeter protection and people-counting video analytics.

Also joining the LLBWS technology team in 2017 was Milestone Systems, who provided their XProtect IP VMS. In addition to central management of all cameras and operators, the XProtect Smart Wall gave total situational awareness of the event’s activities. The software supports failover recording servers for such installations that require continued access to uninterrupted video coverage.

“We have a robust video management system in place that allows us to monitor cameras and share video with the law enforcement agencies that are set up around the complex—we’re all seeing the same thing,” McClintock said. “Whether it’s our security team or other authorities, the technology solutions make it a seamless surveillance system.”

Also introduced in the video management solution was an advanced Milestone Husky NVR. Custom installed with the powerful XProtect Corporate VMS, the Milestone Husky 500A is an accelerated performance NVR that has high recording rates, low power consumption and system flexibility—including support for unlimited storage.

“The video surveillance helps us react immediately. We’re constantly monitoring our video feeds,” McClintock said. “We can see what’s happening in real time or play it back from an investigative standpoint. Video surveillance gives us the opportunity to not only react but to also train, educate, and move forward to always improve.”

Teamwork Makes Things Work

McClintock explained that Little League International works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and local law enforcement. All these agencies work together throughout the World Series to make sure that the event is adequately staffed and supported, security systems are in place, and everything’s being monitored and shared.

“With Milestone being the ‘rookie’ of the team, we were replacing a previous VMS, essentially installing a completely new system, and the integration went very well,” said Matt Fishback, global business development manager at Milestone Systems. “The Milestone open platform enables flexible, scalable, integrated solutions for just such critical video surveillance needs, to meet the ultimate goal of safety and well-being for all.”

Additionally, Fishback explained that one element in the mobile client is particularly well suited for events of this type: Video Push allows any cell phone connected with management rights to share its video to the main system, as well as access views from any networked cameras in the system.

“If you’re out in the stands, and you see something happening where maybe there’s not great camera coverage at that specific location, you can use the camera in your smartphone to push video to the network,” Fishback said. “The operators at the central Smart Wall will be able to see your device’s video just like any other camera in the system. That’s a great feature for a widespread event like this.”

Around the Horn

The security system used a variety of Axis network camera products, including dome camera PTZ systems, fixed stationary cameras, low-light cameras, and thermal imaging systems, ideal for low- or nolighting scenarios.

Axis technologies included the Q1659 Network Camera, which combines advanced photographic imaging technologies from Canon to deliver ultra-high image quality for fixed, wide-area surveillance and detail, even in the most challenging lighting conditions. The Axis D2050-VE Network Radar Detector was also deployed as an outdoor motion detector for accurate and reliable perimeter protection, day and night, to minimize potential false alarms. Axis People Counter video analytics solution helped the Little League gain operational insights.

“Each year we look forward to advancing the security system by leveraging the newest technology innovations available within the industry,” said Robert Muehlbauer, senior manager, business development partner ecosystem, Axis Communications Inc.

A Team Win

Extreme Networks Inc. provided its ExtremeWireless and ExtremeSwitching technology to form the backbone of the security solution. Wired and wireless solutions from Extreme Networks complement the stadium’s OnGuard access control platform from Lenel and connect the Axis IP-based digital video surveillance cameras with the Milestone VMS.

“This iconic event calls for age-old traditions but when it comes to security, age-old methods won’t suffice,” said Norman Rice, chief marketing, development and product operations officer at Extreme Networks. “Extreme’s technology is specifically engineered to provide the high-performance, high-bandwidth, ultra-reliable connectivity needed to help keep everyone safe and secure throughout the duration of the event.”

Upon arrival, each player, staff member, volunteer and vendor is enrolled in Lenel’s OnGuard system to receive a photo identification badge for use during the series. These personalized badges allow entry to selected areas of the facility. Only players, coaches and authorized staff are allowed access to the dormitory areas where players sleep, eat and rest.

“As badge holders move around the facility they must present their credentials at key checkpoints,” said Jeff Stanek, general manager at Lenel. “The access control system taps into the video system, presenting a live video feed together with the cardholder’s database photo, for easy identity verification by security guards. Our OnGuard WATCH tool offers an intuitive graphical interface that makes it even easier for security personnel to gather data and quickly respond to any needs.”

Bringing it All Home

“Our town of 6,500 people booms to almost half a million over the course of this 10-day annual event. Making sure it is both fun for families, and safe for all who take part, is of utmost importance,” said Jim Ferguson, Little League International assistant director of risk management. “We have every confidence in Axis Communications, Extreme Networks, Lenel and Milestone to help us achieve these goals. They are tested and proven systems, with each of these companies chosen to protect the players and fans from around the world.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Security Today.

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