Touching all the bases: security at Orioles Park in Baltimore
Touching all the bases: security at Orioles Park in Baltimore

Apr 1, 1998 12:00 PM

Protecting the facilities, players and fans at a major league baseball stadium may well pose one of the toughest challenges in the security profession.

The 48,000-seat Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore adds to the challenge with architecture that has won design awards, but invites vandalism, and a downtown location that bisects one of the city's major drug-trading routes.

In addition, the stadium complex includes an eight-story warehouse renovated to accommodate the Orioles' administrative offices and numerous corporate and professional offices.

The warehouse, as it continues to be called, stands just beyond the right-field wall of the stadium and dates back to the 1800s. Every day, approximately 1,600 people arrive for work in the warehouse offices, parking in stadium lots on the south side of the complex.

To protect the Maryland Stadium Authority-managed complex and its visitors, security manager James Slusser has implemented a concept he calls "security in depth."

According to Slusser, security in depth involves the use of rings of cameras, moving from the perimeter of the complex inward to the stadium concourse, and finally to the inside of the stadium. A proximity card and reader system in the warehouse complements the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.

Slusser developed the current CCTV system by expanding the original, which was installed upon completion of the stadium in 1993.

DEI Inc., a Baltimore-based systems integrator, designed and installed the original system and has worked with Slusser on the ensuing upgrades.

Preventing after-hours vandalism

The original CCTV system focused on security inside the stadium itself, with the goal of helping to control crowds during events and to prevent vandalism after hours.

Concerns about vandalism stem from the stadium architecture. Around the low-slung masonry stands 12-foot-high, black, wrought-iron fencing. The wrought iron makes an attractive architectural statement, but does little to deter determined vandals who can scale the fence more or less at will.

DEI installed 21 black-and-white Sanyo cameras in the concourse circling the ground level of the stadium. Fifteen of those cameras are fixed, while six are pan/tilt/zoom cameras housed in Harris domes from Pelco.

>From the top of the center field scoreboard, a single black-and-white pan/tilt/zoom camera covers the field and seating and has the range to zoom in for close-ups of seats behind home plate.

Two American Dynamics 4000 units add motion detection to the fixed cameras covering the concourse during off hours. Instead of photo-electric or microwave techniques, DEI used video-based motion detection that can be adjusted to ignore intruders smaller than people, because the openings between the bars of the wrought iron fence admit stray animals and birds.

When activated, the motion detectors send an alarm signal to a Pelco 9500 matrix switcher in the security center located beneath the east side of the stadium complex. In turn, the switcher activates a PSA security network alarm monitor, one of eight PSA monitors connected to concourse and stadium cameras. A Gyyr time-lapse VCR in the loop automatically records alarm events.

During normal operation, the VCR records camera by camera at six-second intervals as the signals cycle through the switcher.

A Fiber Options fiber-optic cabling system that ties the cameras into the security station serves three purposes in the Camden Yards installation.

* First, the cabling can handle the unusually long distances between the cameras and the monitoring station; some of the cameras sit as far away as 1,300 feet from the security station.

* Second, fiber systems can better resist the effects of lightning, an important consideration for any outdoor installation.

* Third, fiber-optic cable is immune to the radio frequency interference produced by network and cable television cameras feeding mobile production studios and satellite transmission systems during media coverage of events.

Controlling warehouse access

The original security system included access control for the south half of the warehouse structure, where the corporate and professional offices are located. Here, HID proximity readers authorize access through the exterior doors. An Apollo panel controls the system, which Slusser manages with Apollo software running on a DOS desktop located in the security center.

Installing the access control system proved challenging for DEI. "The warehouse is a very old building with thick stone walls instead of modern sheetrock and masonry," says Tom Steg, president of DEI. "Stone is an imperfect surface that is difficult to penetrate. Because of this, some of the conduit runs had to be located on the outside of the stone walls."

Since 1994, Slusser has steadily expanded the original CCTV and access control systems. "My goal is to add one new piece of equipment and upgrade another piece of equipment each year," he says. "You have to upgrade these systems constantly to keep pace with technology."

For example, Slusser recently extended the HID access control system to the entries, offices and shops located in the north end of the warehouse. He also put the elevators in both wings of the warehouse on the system.

The recently upgraded access control system allows Slusser and his staff to set permissible access times for all individuals using the warehouse. Some have weekday-only access; others have weekend access; and some have access limited to working hours during the week.

Layers of surveillance

Slusser's additions to the original CCTV system have followed his plan to create a system of security in depth with concentric circles of cameras.

Since 1994, he has added 10 cameras to the system, ringing the outer perimeter of the complex to cover parking for the stadium and warehouse offices. The new cameras, supplied by PSA, offer low-light performance given at least 1.5 lux of ambient light, which is the level of light specified for the lamps located in the parking lots.

Fiber-optic cabling connects the new cameras to the security center, where the signals run through a Dedicated Micros Pro II duplex multiplexer and into monitors in the security center as well as in Slusser's office. Slusser also has a Sony time-lapse VCR and video printer in his office.

The multiplexer allows near real-time recording on all 10 cameras. The duplex feature allows security officers to view a single camera on the monitor while the system continues to record all of the cameras. In addition, the system can display video from all 10 of the new cameras at once in a split-screen format.

The system also feeds video into two lobby security stations in the warehouse building, one in the northern half of the building and the other in the southern half. Security officers monitor the lobby stations during working hours, using small switchers and pan/tilt/zoom controls to cycle through three cameras covering their areas of responsibility.

"We monitor all of the cameras in the main security station," Slusser says. "Officers in the two lobby stations give us two more sets of eyes for six of the cameras."

Slusser hopes to continue upgrading the system. His plans include additional cameras for the warehouse as well as duplex multiplexer controls for the security stations in the warehouse lobbies.

"I'm also investigating a digital video enhancement device," Slusser says. "With the system I have, I can print a frame of video, but it might not be clear enough to allow for identification of a subject or license plate number. The new enhancement devices coming onto the market will let you blow up the video and get clearer, more identifiable pictures."

Which will complete the circle of security in depth at Camden Yards.

Cameras will ring neighboring football stadium

Slated to open for the 1998 football season, Baltimore's new 68,000-seat Ravens Stadium, which neighbors Orioles Park at Camden Yards, will feature state-of-the-art security technology.

According to James Slusser, security manager for the Maryland Stadium Authority, which manages the entire stadium complex in downtown Baltimore, intruders will have to penetrate five levels of "security in depth" to get onto the field.

"We've designed a system with four rings of cameras," Slusser says. "Each of those rings will operate through a duplex multiplexer."

The first and largest circle of cameras will ring the stadium site along the perimeter of the parking lots. Inside of that, cameras will ring the exterior of the stadium. Next comes a ring of cameras inside the main ground floor stadium concourse. Fourth, four pan/tilt/zoom cameras will sit high above the stadium on the light towers at each of the four turns in the oval-shaped structure. Those cameras will offer views inside and outside of the stadium.

"For incidents that occur inside the stadium, I'll be able to record from at least three different angles and get a three-dimensional view of the people involved and the incident," Slusser says.

The fifth security ring will be supplied by an infrared beam around the immediate perimeter of the stadium. "The infrared system will be zoned into different systems, so that we can allow access to different zones as needed," Slusser says. "For example, we know that people will use the executive office entrance on a daily basis. So during the day, that beam will be turned off."

Should someone penetrate the beam, two cameras set to provide full coverage of that zone will automatically zoom in on the spot where the beam was broken. In addition, the lighting intensity will rise in that area as a low-level siren sounds.

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