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Case Studies

Marathon job for management software

A case study of video management software (VMS) in use at the 2014 New York City Marathon.

For thousands of endurance runners, the finish line at the marathon was welcome. For those responsible for safety, however, that same finish line presented challenges. Tall trees that line the curvy roads and pathways in Central Park do not provide a clear line of sight, and often runners are hidden from the view of medical and safety staff, the first responders.

With 50,530 finishers and an estimated two million onlookers in 2014, the TCS New York City Marathon was the world’s largest ever; and it followed the bombed Boston Marathon of April 2013.

For New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organisers of the event, VIRSIG LLC configured and deployed a wireless network in and around Central Park, including the marathon’s finish line. The network consisted of the latest Sony network surveillance cameras, and ethernet transmitters provided by Network Video Technologies (NVT). These components were linked with Firetide wireless mesh nodes that transmitted video and voice data to a Race Command Center where a Milestone XProtect ‘smart wall’ displayed 36 simultaneous camera views. Milestone video management software (VMS) provided live and recorded play-back video. Centennial Security Integration assisted with installation to turn the multiple-node architecture into a unified system.

The IPELA engine of Sony’s dynamic-range network cameras provided the outputs, including fixed models with on-board video analytics, Pan-Tilt-Zoom and 360-degree views. These were managed and displayed through XProtect Corporate VMS developed for large-scale deployments. The Command Center had a consolidated operational view in a 55-screen XProtect ‘smart wall’, while roving staff could view video on the move using the Milestone Mobile client.

Glenn Taylor, Executive Director, VIRSIG LLC, said: “Milestone’s open platform enabled us to provide a high-availability, high-performance network with the high-availability, high-performance video management system.”

Dr Stuart Weiss is the medical director for the New York Road Runners. On race day, his job was to direct the tent near the finish line that was fully staffed as an emergency room. The goal was to treat on-site as many runners as possible requiring medical attention who could then be sent home. Weiss said that the video proved to be a critical part of his team’s situational awareness, supporting decision-making through views of the finish line, walk-off areas, Central Park and various points on the course.

Being able to see runners as they finished the race helped his team identify those who needed emergency room treatment and what type of care to provide for injuries that could be treated in the tent. The sheer number of people made it complicated to keep track of what was going on as runners cooled down on their way to the area for reuniting with family and friends. That cool-down period is when trauma is most likely to occur.

Weiss said: “The Milestone software helped us integrate all the camera feeds into one screen area we could easily look at to see what was happening across the area. We used it to make critical decisions throughout the day.”

The race commander used his view of the five medical tents to decide which tents were at capacity and needed more medical personnel and which tents were able to receive additional people. At one point the electricity went out on one of the poles where a camera was mounted, and a technical person used the Milestone Mobile client on a smartphone to send images from that location back to the command center.

Central Park West is one location where a network would be difficult to deploy if it weren’t for wireless. Glenn Taylor reports that the Milestone open platform’s ability to support a range of wireless devices gave the deployment far greater reach. He said that most wireless equipment requires a clear line of sight – a luxury in a setting known for winding roads and dense vegetation. VIRSIG overcame that by installing wireless transmitting devices at the tops of 140-foot utility poles to receive signals from the IP cameras that carried the data to the servers, where the images aided the marathon’s overall situational awareness.

Taylor adds: “The wireless mesh extended the network out into areas where you typically would not be able to put a network. We created a platform that everyone was able to share in order to make the marathon a safer, more secure event.”


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