- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Before the 2019-20 season, Ipswich Town Football Club was faced with an ultimatum: improve their Portman Road home’s CCTV for matchday safety, or the ground might not pass muster to play in League One, England’s third tier.
The Suffolk club has a proud history – pictured is the statue of England’s World Cup-winning manager Sir Alf Ramsay, who as Ipswich manager won the English league title in the 1961-62 season. Portman Road itself is an all-seater, 30,000-capacity venue.
The Chelmsford-based security and surveillance installation company ClearView has maintained the club’s CCTV for the past decade. Club and company agreed that the CCTV system had become outdated and was in need of an overhaul. The ability to increase recording capacity, as well as allowing for recording of higher quality and higher resolutions images, was required. ClearView gave Ipswich upgrade options, but a lack of funds meant these had to be put on hold. That pre-season ultimatum meant that an updated CCTV system was a priority, but the stadium would present the installer with difficulties.
Paul Main, Strategy Director at ClearView, said: “Portman Road has four large stands, with the existing CCTV system utilising analogue coaxial cables that ran over the roofs of those stands. The system we wanted to deliver Ipswich Town was based around the 8MP IP PTZ cameras from Hikvision. This was because the club needed the ability to deliver high resolution, evidence-quality images for crowd monitoring and safety purposes. With that in mind, we had to devise a solution to ensure those IP images could be transmitted over long-distance coax cable.”
ClearView chose to use eight Hikvision 8MP Network Speed Domes, which are able to operate in very low light. These cameras were positioned around the stands of Portman Road so as to monitor crowd for safety. Crucially, the domes were able to send their ultra-high-resolution images over analogue coaxial cable.
The issue of transmitting these images over the coax already there was also complicated by the extreme lengths of cable over the roofs of the stadium. Working at such heights is tricky and investing in all new cabling was not a cost-effective option. ClearView opted instead to use HighWire Longstar products, from the manufacturer Veracity. They offered the necessary high-speed Ethernet and power delivery over the long lengths of cable.
Another seven Hikvision 2MP Turbo PTZ cameras were installed around the outer perimeter of the stadium, also monitoring crowd and safety conditions. While not the 8MP resolution of the internal stadium pan and tilts, the quality of these images over the shorter distance far exceeded the original analogue images and allowed the club to keep costs within their budget.
And some 33 8MP Turbo Dome cameras, which are vandal resistant and can deliver pictures in low-light too, were deployed throughout the Portman Road, including outside the surrounding buildings, and under the stands. These were for crowd monitoring in public areas such as bars, corridors and function rooms.
All the images are stored on 48TB of Seagate Skyhawk hard drives using three Hikvision Turbo HD recorders, all running Hikvision’s HikCentral video management software. These, with three separate PC workstations, each allocated 16 specified cameras, allow users to monitor the whole stadium on match days. Three 48-inch high-resolution wall-mounted monitors, each displaying 16 cameras, allow for continued overall viewing should an incident occur while one of the workstations is being used to focus on that situation.
ClearView Research and Development Engineer James West said: “We were really happy with the quality of the images. We knew the cameras were able to deliver 8 megapixels of resolution, but we wanted to make sure the system we installed was capable of delivering those detailed pictures across the legacy cabling. The combination of Hikvision cameras and Veracity transmission products worked perfectly and meant that the system was not only able to do the job it was designed for, it was also cost-effective.”
ClearView Project Manager Lance Malkin said: “The system proved to be of value almost immediately. On one match day, a young man decided to set off a flare in the North Stand. Because of the high quality of the images the system captures, they were able to identify him from a camera positioned in the South Stand.”
At Ipswich Town, Mick Warden, Match Day Safety Officer said: “Overall the picture quality is first class, the system is easy to operate and the ability to focus in further on ‘live’ incidents is a terrific feature. The system has certainly gone a long way to ensuring fans attending matches at Portman Road can do so in a safe and secure environment.
“Our previous system was over 15 years old and was in urgent need of updating. Apart from being a key and reliable safety system, as one of the features, I was keen as Safety Officer, to be able to ‘drill’ down after an incident or event such as a missile thrown onto the pitch, for example, to be able to identify the offender. Suffice to say the Hikvision system, installed by ClearView, has met my expectations and we have had two occasions this season where offenders have been identified. We would have stood no chance with the previous system.”