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Case study

Panasonic surveillance system tackles Ulster Rugby

 Panasonic's CCTV system is also used to manage access to the limited amount of spaces available in the VIP parking area
 Ravenhill Stadium is home to the Irish Rugby Football Union
The CCTV system operators keep a watchful eye Winners of the Celtic Cup, and runners up in the Heineken Cup, the professional arm of the Irish Rugby Football Union, (Ulster Branch) which plays under the title Ulster Rugby (UR), is the foremost professional sporting club in Northern Ireland. Residing at the famous Ravenhill Stadium, the club plays host to competitions ranging from the finals of club and school competitions, to Under 10 Mini Rugby and the Senior Clubs Final. Considered the spiritual home of Northern Irish rugby, the ground hosts over 40 games each year, regularly drawing crowds close to its 12,500 capacity. Whilst this has led to the realisation of consistent revenue for the club, it has also recently highlighted a number of issues, which needed to be addressed by the club's event organisers.

Defining goals

Working in conjunction with the Sports Council of Northern Ireland, David Boyd, Domestic Manager for the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), looked into the issues surrounding Health and Safety, the identification of potential troublemakers, general crowd control, and overall ground security; to gauge and set objectives that would assist with the overall management of the ground. From this management and security audit, a proposal and tender was developed to instigate a modern, comprehensive CCTV surveillance system for the Ravenhill Stadium.

"The Sports Council of Northern Ireland showed their support for the initiative with a grant, which equated to 90% of the total cost of the installation," explained Boyd. "The new Panasonic based surveillance system has been configured by VIS to enable us to meet the operational management standards required for the stadium. We can now locate possible crowd problems early on, allowing organisers to direct any of the 40 - 90 match day stewards to deal with situations extremely effectively."

Comprehensive coverage 

Controlled by a Panasonic system controller and with high-resolution monitoring provided via colour monitors 
 The operational support of the system is geared to comply with the strict guidelines issued by the Local Authority
Controlled by a Panasonic system controller and with high-resolution monitoring provided via colour monitors, the system uses an array of vandal and weather resistant dome colour cameras, to supply comprehensive site coverage. These units also feature automatic colour/monochrome switching for improved low-light imaging, specified to provide detailed pictures across the variety of lighting conditions that extend across the ground and deep into the 3,500 capacity grandstand areas.

Due to the stadium's location within a densely populated residential area, cameras are used to check the flow of vehicular traffic over a vital feeder road before and after each fixture. Direct radio links to the police help to ensure that the road stays clear, to prevent any problems with traffic congestion. At the ground itself, the CCTV system is also used to manage access to the limited amount of spaces available in the VIP parking area.

Crowd management

Presiding over the safety of fans, the ground's cameras are programmed to perform a pre-determined visual sweep at the beginning of each fixture. The CCTV system operators keep a watchful eye on programme sellers and check the progress of queues through the turnstiles, communicating with officials on the ground to open or close access gates as appropriate, to aid the flow of fans into the stadium.

Inside the ground, further crowd management is undertaken using the system's cameras to verify that crowd densities within each section of the ground are within prescribed Health & Safety guidelines. If an area looks to be over, or under occupied, direct radio contact to club officials allows the CCTV control room operators to request an intelligent course of action to be taken, and fans redirected accordingly; to ensure that people are not squashed in but have room to stand comfortably on the terraces.

The UR system employs a hard disk recorder, recording images in real-time continuously during fixture days, to provide high-quality evidential footage if required 
The CCTV system operators keep a watchful eye
TV profile

The UR system employs a hard disk recorder, recording images in real-time continuously during fixture days, to provide high-quality evidential footage if required. Taking advantage of the variety of recording modes, the club uses the unit in conjunction with a time-lapse VCR, to either store information, or download it on request for police use. Such high-quality video evidence of incidents does not only assist with any prosecution cases but also helps exonerate and quantify the club's steward's conduct when dealing with an incident, to substantiate any subsequent claim against the club. The operational support of the system is geared to comply with the strict guidelines issued by the Local Authority, with any incident recorded being noted in an incident log and referenced to indexed video footage from individual cameras.

Commenting on the benefits the new system has brought about, David Boyd concluded that: "The installation of the Panasonic sourced system has provided a host of solutions to a wide range of management problems and security issues. The system provides Ulster Rugby with a much wider vision of safety issues, which in-turn, have greatly enhanced our ability to manage the ground safely."


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