Riding on security solutions to safety
Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 2/20/2015 | Article type: Commercial Markets
While security products can help with theme park management, operators still rely on them for the original purpose that they were designed for: keeping premises safe and secure. Products and solutions, such as video surveillance, access control, and RFID can help operators achieve their security objectives.
For amusement parks, they deal with several types of security concerns. The first is the protection of premises from various harms. “As like any pubic commercial business, threats that have the potential to prevent or hinder the achievement of objectives that the business needs to perform, for example processes to keep the business financially safe and compliant from potential threat sources, can range from vandalism, terrorism, criminal activity, and asset loss and safety,” said Pedro De Jesus, Channel Manager for Security at Gallagher.
Another concern is ensuring the safety of visitors, some of whom may enter or exit rides from the wrong side or wander off to restricted areas. Locating missing children or members of a group is another primary focus. To address those concerns, security products and solutions are deployed, offering vital and much needed assistance to operators as they strive to build an overall safe environment.
Preventing child abduction and theft
Video surveillance plays a vital role in keeping amusement parks safe, especially when it comes to detecting and deterring crime. “A premier form of electronic surveillance, video provides real-time monitoring of situations, both at the location and remotely,” said Craig Dahlman, Director of IP Camera Products at Pelco by Schneider Electric. “Video security is a proven solution that can offer a complete answer for protecting customers, co-workers, and employees while additionally offering a watchful eye over property.”
Cameras are installed at various points in the park as well as at entrances to prevent various crimes, such as child abduction, although the mere presence of cameras should serve as a deterrent. “Visible installation of cameras and the knowledge that there is a video surveillance system is mostly sufficient to repel potential kidnappers,” said Roland Feil, Director Sales at Dallmeier Electronics, adding that high-definition cameras offering crystal clear images can also help investigate theft and shoplifting, which can be quite rampant at theme parks. Another important value of video surveillance is it can help operators request the necessary compensation should something happens. “It provides indisputable documentation of an event. While serving as a visual deterrent to crime, it gives park managers and security and safety professionals the tools they need to validate liability claims,” Dahlman said.
Locating lost visitors
Tracking lost children or members of a group over a large space like theme parks can be a daunting challenge. RFID, which entails communications between a tag and a reader, can be utilized for this purpose. “It keeps children safe by determining where the child last used the RFID credential. The child's credential can also be programmed not to work without being tagged in tandem with the parent's credential,” said Scott Lindley, President of Farpointe Data.
RFID not only can track lost visitors but also park employees as well. “They can be used to track lone workers, perhaps maintenance workers working in remote parts of the park outside of opening hours, to ensure that staff are accounted for and located, so emergencies can be spotted more quickly,” said John Davies, MD at TDSi.
Better yet, RFID can be integrated with other technologies, such as video analytics, to offer visual verification of the missing person. “Passive RFID tags can allow wearers to be tracked at specific portals throughout the park. While passing through those areas, images can be logged to validate the wearer's location,” said Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems. “On a more advanced level, the use of active RFID tags or small GPS transmitter could allow map-based tracking throughout the park and provide the ability to instantly swing a PTZ or zoom a high-resolution fixed camera directly to the child or person in question.”
When looking for lost visitors, every second counts. Video surveillance technologies nowadays have video forensic capabilities that enable quick retrieval of critical video data. “With metadata, which adds sense and structure to video surveillance, it is possible to immediately retrieve the correct evidence of hours of recorded materials in a couple of seconds,” said Pieter van den Looveren, Manager of Marketing Communication for Video Systems at Bosch Security Systems. “Today's video forensic tools can include details on age, clothing color, gender, and even geographic vicinity, allowing a user to literally enter a video search looking for a ‘small male child, wearing a red shirt last seen in the area of a particular ride during a specified time frame,'” Bowe said. “Video clips meeting these requirements can be quickly provided to security for a timely analysis.”
Detecting suspicious objects
While the technology is nothing new, detecting unattended or suspicious items by way of video analytics continues to be a popular application for theme parks, which might be targets for terrorist attacks. “With the help of modern video content analysis, it is possible to issue an alarm if any objects remain within a certain area for a predefined period of time,” Feil said. “The systems can also prevent the blocking of escape routes, fire rescue paths, or approach roads for ambulances by parked objects, which could have very serious consequences in case of an emergency.”
Intrusion detection Perimeter protection is a major concern, especially during the night when theme parks are closed. Delinquents, thieves, or burglars trying to climb over the fence and get into the park need to be kept out. Video analytics and cameras are deployed for this purpose, keeping parks safe and sound after business hours.
“Intelligent video can determine, for example, if an object approaches an area, from which direction it is coming, or how long it stays in a certain area,” Feil said. “This means that intruders can be detected early on and an alarm can be triggered. Comprehensive validity checks reduce false alarms, which may be triggered by leaves swishing in the wind or animals, to a minimum without missing ‘real' alarm messages.”
Video recording during night time, when everything is dark, presents a daunting challenge. Luckily, advances in lowlight and thermal technologies have solved this problem. “Today's thermal imagers have become very affordable, and as video analytic technology continues to improve, protection ranges increase greatly,” Bowe said. “The ability for video analytics to utilize a single camera for distances from hundreds of meters to kilometers makes implementing measures for night time surveillance more effective and more affordable.”
Access Control in critical areas
Like any other businesses, theme parks can step up access control through multifactor authentication, or a combination of tokens, passwords, or, for entry into more critical areas, biometrics. “Biometrics is typically used throughout high security or restricted places, for example head-end sever rooms, cash holding rooms, and security operations,” De Jesus said. “Access to these areas can be controlled to ensure only those staff that are appropriately qualified or trained can gain access.”
Access control management software can offer rapid authorization or removal of access when required. “Examples include contractors needing access to service the rides or attractions, or temporary staff no longer needed to work in restricted areas,” said Davies.
Ensuring safety of equipment
Finally, security products can help ensure that rides and other types of equipment are in good shape. “Video analytics is desirable for monitoring abnormalities, for example smoke, breakage of a gear, movement of a critical component, or overheating through the use of thermal cameras. They can even be used to ensure certain safety procedures are being followed,” Bowe said.
Safe and fun
People come to amusement parks to relax and have a fun day with their family and friends. They can't have fun if constantly being bugged by worries that something might happen. With various security products and solutions in place, operators can strive to make their parks as safe as possible and offer the ultimate visitor experience.