Making sure all visitors and high-profile venues remain safe and secure.
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Over the last ten years, the free access park – which spans over 560 acres – has welcomed over 34 million people to walk its parklands, attend major events, and to visit sporting venues, including the London Stadium, the London Aquatics Centre, and the famous Copper Box Arena.
Making sure all these visitors and high-profile venues remain safe and secure is a major task and the responsibility of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Head of Security & Safety, Tony Tolley.
“It’s a very broad remit” explains Tolley. “We have all the specific challenges that go with hosting major events, for instance, looking at crowd control, preventing pitch invasions, monitoring for potential disturbances, or identifying signs of malicious intent. But also, everything that goes with operating a busy working park – what you might call ‘business as usual’ activity. From detecting and responding to criminal or anti-social behaviour to dealing with things like finding lost children or monitoring for slips, trips and falls.”
Key to helping Tolley and his team in this olympic task, is the park’s extensive surveillance solution. Rolling teams operate a 24/7/365 security centre, using an integrated command and control platform to receive and review camera footage from across the entire park and the individual venues located in it.
“We upgraded to the Synectics Synergy platform in about 2018. And while this decision was, in part, simply a case of equipment modernisation – a major factor for us was the depth and scope of integration this particular platform makes possible. Especially in terms of analytics.”
Tony Tolley, Head of Security & Safety, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
“For instance, when we get a report of a missing person or perhaps when an officer calls in details of a person of interest, we use our integrated analytics package to create a non-biometric avatar which can then be forensically cross-referenced with video metadata to assist with locating the individual in question by using the colour of clothing, bags etc. – footage which can then be used in evidence as/if required.”
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s surveillance team also utilises analytics and their surveillance platform’s integral rules engine to establish workflows that flag anomalies and prioritise feeds – 'the cause and effect'.
When concentrations of people exceed pre-set thresholds or when numbers of people rapidly increase in a short time frame – in a way which may indicate a disturbance or rapidly escalating event – an alert is triggered which prioritises footage from the nearest available cameras and triggers onscreen workflows for the surveillance operatives on duty. Similarly, the system can detect objects left behind, suspicious/dangerous vehicle activity (speed and trajectory), and even loitering behaviours. In each case analytics-based alerts are linked to appropriate workflows to ensure the correct protocols are followed.
Tolley adds, “Our people are highly experienced operatives, but to expect them to have ‘eyes on’ all the time with a park of this size and with the visitor numbers we have daily, is just not feasible. What is feasible is using technology to make their lives easier. To flag potential incidents that warrant their attention and expertise, and to use workflows as assistance cues.”
The team can also tailor and establish rules that reflect incident types most common to the park. A good example is the ongoing challenge of so-called ‘urban explorers’.
“The nature of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, its layout and various features, means we have had a few urban explorers. And while we don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, we need to prioritise safety. So, for specific areas where this type of activity is most common, we’ve created virtual ‘no-go or intrusion’ zones. Our system detects when an object ... a person ... crosses a line or reaches a particular height, triggers an alert for operators, and also automates a pre-recorded message asking the individual to stop and leave the area.”
While having a 24/7 view of park activity is essential, it’s also a responsibility. Making data protection and public privacy of paramount importance.
To guard against potential cyber security attacks, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park surveillance and security solution is on an entirely stand-alone network.
The Synergy platform encrypts all footage, rendering it tamperproof, and automatically verifies the IP addresses of connected devices and systems (cameras, sensors, access control, emergency alarms etc.). It also operates on a strict permissions-based system that controls access to system functionality around viewing, downloading, and sharing footage. All user activity is logged for full operational transparency.
In addition, the park’s solution utilises integrated redaction technology to apply automated blurring as required, meaning only the subject of investigations is shown in evidential video footage.
“We take the privacy of our visitors very seriously and employ multiple mechanisms for ensuring data is handled securely, surveillance is carried out responsibly, and that investigative reviews are very focussed”, adds Tolley.
Something else taken very seriously is the site’s carbon footprint. For Tony Tolley and his team, ‘securing the park’ therefore takes on another very important meaning.
“We’re very focussed on securing a sustainable future for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park”, explains Tolley. “And believe it or not, the surveillance solution we’ve adopted is part of that process. For instance, the platform now in use was partly chosen because it scored highly in terms of reduced energy consumption – in particular, with regards to equipment cooling requirements.
“We also deliberately chose Synergy because it gave us the greatest flexibility in terms of third-party solution integration potential, allowing us to choose the ‘greenest’ options for achieving our operational objectives. We’ve actually just changed our video wall for a much more energy-efficient alternative.”
The surveillance solution at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is continually reviewed to identify developments that will help address emerging safety and security needs.
Developments currently being explored include integrating on-site radio solutions for improved personnel dispatch and incident reporting and potential technologies aimed at drone detection.
Tolley concluded, “Protecting a site of this type and scale means you have to evolve constantly – standing still isn’t really an option if you want to keep pace with risk. Our answer to this challenge is simple. We’ve been careful to adopt technology that balances current functionality with future flexibility. As such, we’re confident we have the right system in place to keep our visitors and venues safe for many years to come.”
“We also deliberately chose Synergy because it gave us the greatest flexibility in terms of third-party solution integration potential, allowing us to choose the ‘greenest’ options for achieving our operational objectives."
Tony Tolley, Head of Security & Safety, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park