By Gregory Hale
Life in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is a very competitive environment, not only between the teams, but also creating an atmosphere for fans to safely and securely enjoy the experience so they want to keep coming back to see more action.
The Milwaukee Bucks were very aware of those pressures and concerns when they decided to build a new arena that officially opened as Fiserv Forum in August 2018 in the downtown Deer District – and they also knew security played a huge role.
While the wants and needs of a NBA basketball team may seem worlds apart from the manufacturing automation sector, the melding of physical security with cyber in a digital environment are very similar.
“Security was baked in from the beginning,” said Adam Stockwell, vice president of security for the Milwaukee Bucks during a Johnson Controls GSX media day in Milwaukee last week. “We looked at what we wanted security to look like. Security has changed quite a bit over the past five years. Technologies have advanced.”
With new technologies, there are also issues with them becoming obsolete in a short amount of time.
“Technologies are now heading to the cloud,” said Matt Pazaras, senior vice president of business development and strategy for the Milwaukee Bucks. “The fact is so much is built into the cloud as we find (that helps) future proof the technology. Quite often the technology ends up outgrowing itself.”
That fast evolving realm of technology is what the Bucks and its main integrator, Johnson Controls, had to come to grips with when they created a plan that looked a bit different from what other teams and arenas used.
“Future readiness is having the flexibility and being able to adjust,” said Jim Nannini, vice president of building wide system integration, building solutions North American for Johnson Controls. “What the fans and the Bucks want to do may change in a year from now. They (the Bucks) had the gumption to build things out; staying true to the vision. This is a combination of the physical and digital infrastructure.”
In creating a building that will physically stand for decades, but will continually have to be technologically updated internally, sitting down with the Bucks and understanding wants and needs was vital.
“Planning is key,” said Nick Treder, business manager for Johnson Controls connected technologies. “And understanding the correct path to get you there.”
Heather Naida, vice president of advanced solutions, construction for North America for Johnson Controls, couldn’t agree more.
“All customers have unique needs, but they all need upfront planning,” she said, pointing out a list of customer needs:
1. Master planning
2. Design guidelines
3. Partnership through implementation
4. Ability to work through the lifecycle
As an example of one security aspect for the project, the Bucks ended up using over 850 security cameras to oversee the property. They needed cameras that provide sharp details across a 17,341-seat bowl, the concession concourse and elsewhere throughout the property. In addition, they wanted cameras that could quickly adjust to dynamic lighting conditions from near darkness to bright sunlight and flashing strobes.
They ended up installing IP cameras ranging from ultra-high resolution 20-megapixel cameras and multi-sensor panorama cameras, to pan/tilt/zoom and fixed dome cameras. The entire camera system is controlled by an enterprise video management software in the stadium’s Arena Operations Center (AOC). Because the cameras are grouped into quadrants, it’s easy for Bucks security staff, department managers and local response agencies to see multiple viewpoints of an area simultaneously on the AOC’s dozen 60-inch monitors.
Digital Meets Physical
“That is the physical and digital environments complementing each other,” said Pazaras.
With an engaged security presences that allows for a seamless experience for the fans, “the customer experience starts before you get in the Fiserv Forum. We are able to bring the experience to outside the arena,” Pazaras said.
That all comes from communication between the integrator and the Bucks – and everyone involved within the organizations.
“The vision was established, but the subject matter experts were able to collaborate,” Nannini said. “The biggest issue was the status quo of things always being done the same way. How do you look at all the systems holistically. It was a vision element we were able to rally around.”
That meant finding the right technologies that, while they may evolve and change over time, the companies providing them will be around for years to come.
“The risk is the technology when it is 12 months old, is it going to be obsolete? What is proven and what is not proven and what will continue to be around,” Stockwell said.
“That is the trick; understanding the technology and where it will be going,” Treder said.
That is one reason, Treder said, Johnson Controls keeps a library of use cases to refer back to when a similar situation arises.
When the Bucks sat down with its partners they had a new vision and didn’t want to do things the same old way on all facets of the building – including security. They wanted state of the art and they wanted to make sure the fan experience, along with the player experience, was first class all the way.
“We wanted all of it,” Stockwell said. “Technology is changing at super light speed. Systems are becoming interactive autonomous systems. I needed a system that lets me know when I have to look at things.