A Slam Dunk

A Slam Dunk

Improving patron safety and security at the American Airlines Center requires multi-faceted surveillance technology

Located at the edge of downtown Dallas, the 12-acre American Airlines Center is one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in the United States. Its state-of-the-art retractable seating technology allows management to quickly adjust stadium capacity from 18,500 for ice hockey games to 19,200 for basketball games and up to 21,000 for concerts.

In addition to the entertainment bowl, the center houses dozens of retail shops, concession stands and restaurants. There are also a number of ATMs for patron convenience, a first aid station for medical emergencies. One hundred and thirty-one VIP suites along with two large, all-inclusive VIP clubs, five multi-tier concourses, five multi-capacity meeting rooms, 10 elevators, 10 escalators, a 2000-car parking garage and several parking lots are available.

With all this plus four lobbies and multiple entry points, security at American Airlines Center is a 24/7 responsibility. Finding the right camera system for such a diverse environment presented a challenge.

“Once we decided to replace our failing analog system, we invited most of the major camera manufacturers to showcase their products in the building so we could see how they perform,” said Mose Boyer, Director of Operations for the American Airlines Center. “A number of competitors excelled in one specific area, but Axis was top of the line all across the board.”

Cameras for Varying Light Conditions

With technical support from the local Axis office, Boyer walked every square inch of the building multiple times deciding where to place cameras and which camera models would best suit the lighting challenges of the location and provide the best fields of view. For instance, AXIS Q6044-E PTZ Dome Network Cameras on all four corners of the rooftop give security a great view of the parking lots. AXIS P3364 Network Cameras with built-in IR illumination keep watch over the suite levels which are only lit by emergency lights when not in use.

The 134-degree wide angle view of the AXIS M3026 and AXIS M3024 Network Cameras allows Boyer to cover larger areas with fewer cameras, such as the rotunda on the concourse. In the atrium areas where bright ambient light could easily wash out the image, Boyer chose AXIS P3384-V Network Camera with advanced wide dynamic range to ensure that no part of the image is too dark or too bright.

“We installed the wide dynamic range camera right behind our front reception desk and directed it towards the door,” Boyer said. “The white balance is amazing. Even the area of the frame where the door opens is crystal clear so you can see the face of the person entering the building.”

Recovering Stolen Property

The breadth of strategically placed cameras has been instrumental in curtailing losses in the complex. When an employee’s smartphone went missing from a charging station at the front of one of the club restaurants, security was able to review video from the vicinity and trace the movements of a suspect.

From the clarity of the image, they were able to determine that the individual was an outside contractor. Security sent a video clip of the individual to the employing company who contacted the person demanding the phone’s return. It was brought back the next day and restored to its rightful owner.

“Upgrading our system to Axis cameras was like leaping from the Stone Age into the Technology Age,” Boyer said. “The image clarity and color fidelity are unbelievable. Our security team is catching incidents they never could have with our old analog cameras.”

Confronting False Claims

In another instance, there was an altercation in the seats during a game. One of the parties insisted that another guest be ejected from the premises. This patron also complained that guest services failed to handle the situation correctly and demanded that the American Airlines Center employee be fired. When security reviewed the video of the incident, it told an entirely different story. When the patron was confronted with the evidence, the complaint was rescinded and no one’s job was lost.

Reaping the Benefits for Years to Come

While Boyer oversaw the project, it is the center’s security team that continues to reap the benefits.

“Every time I see the team, they are smiling,” Boyer said. “They’re always phoning, emailing or texting me that the pace at which they’re catching incidents never could have happened with the old system.”

According to Boyer, the new system has been well worth the investment.

“We went into this project thinking we would do a pretty good job covering what we wanted to cover,” Boyer said. “But with the help of the integration partner and Axis, we’ve knocked it out of the park. The system is really comprehensive. It does exactly what we want it to do and we plan for it to serve us for many years to come.”

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Security Today.

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