The nail-biting thrill of the game. Roaring cheers from the stands.

A true sports fan will tell you that there is nothing quite as exciting as watching a live match unfold before your eyes in a stadium filled with other excited sports fans. With pandemic restrictions now a distant memory and fan interest growing, most sports leagues are returning to packed stadiums. But how can club owners prepare for the challenges that come with it?

Challenges faced by stadium management teams

While fans and spectators have a ball of a time in the stands, stadium managers and club owners have a very different task at hand. Stadium management and venue security are fraught with risks, challenges, and compliance issues. Even on the best days, it can be a tall order to manage players and coaches, maintain secure premises, comply with league protocols, ensure supporters’ safety, handle reporters and broadcasters, and provide a unique matchday experience.

Now imagine doing all these tasks simultaneously every weekend!

Thankfully, the Digital Age has ushered in innovative technology to help prioritize your tasks, streamline your activities and provide you with insights and control over every aspect of stadium operations.

Beyond the playing field

Today, spacious stadiums with premium seating arrangements, first-class amenities, and quality designs function as multi-purpose arenas, complete with merchandise stores, gaming studios, lounges, feature bars, and photo booths. This does not just level the playing field but transforms the game by bridging the gap between sports and entertainment for that unparalleled digital fan experience.

However, there are elements that can disrupt these plans. Crowded stadiums attract not just the fans, but also thieves and con artists, or even worse, professional hackers or terrorists looking to make headlines and cause social unrest.

In view of such threats, stadium owners and staff need to adhere to strict safety protocols and failproof security measures to ensure nothing affects or dampens the fan experience or their safety.

Six ways AI and video analytics are changing the game

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the game-changing digital enabler that you are looking for. Here is why. It equips stadiums with the capabilities for  a safer and enhanced end-user experience, both for fans and stadium managers. AI-enabled video analytics automatically monitors CCTV cameras across multiple access areas like entrances, parking lots, dressing rooms, staff rooms and queues.

It also works in real time, enabling rapid incident response and crowd management to improve visitor experiences and optimize your staff’s time and efforts. If a threat is detected or a potential risk is identified, your staff members are immediately alerted to tackle the situation. However, crowded the venue may be, whatever the conditions are, computer vision automatically detects and assists you and your security operators. 

While video feeds and video analytics can obviously help you with queue monitoring, ticketing, and accessibility to stands, it can also be used for more advanced capabilities. We have outlined six of these potential Use Cases below.

  1. Facial recognition helps fast-track VIP queues and expedite smoother entry and vehicle parking for distinguished guests.
  2. On an entirely different note, this same capability can help you separate fans from troublemakers by automatically scanning a watchlist to identify any hooligans on the premises. Similarly, it can identify scalpers from a watchlist or even pinpoint new scalpers trying to resell their tickets to enthusiastic unsuspecting fans.
  3. Your staff can be quickly alerted in case of intrusions, overcrowding or slow-moving queues, so that they can deploy the necessary measures to address a potential Crush issue.
  4. Crowded places pose a public safety risk since they are hotspots for abandoned objects or luggage — the contents of which may be harmless or a real threat. With today’s advanced video analytics capabilities, stadium managers can quickly be alerted to these abandoned objects and mitigate a potential risk before it takes place.
  5. On an equally serious note, children and even adults often get lost in crowded spaces like stadium stands. Armed with multiple feeds and facial recognition capabilities, next-generation video analytics can quickly upload a picture of the missing person then scan all the video feeds to quickly locate them.
  6. The safety of players and coaches is of paramount importance, and video analytics can monitor restricted access to the locker rooms, practice facilities, weight room, cafeterias, sports medicine and recovery room, and executive areas. You can also review post- incident to see what actually happened by rapidly searching metadata in seconds rather than video on the VMS.

The above-mentioned points reiterate how AI and video analytics can be leveraged to help your organization achieve their goal of providing an enjoyable  and  secure matchday experience.

No matter how crowded the venue may be, whatever the conditions are, computer vision detects and helps you and your security operators make the right decisions quickly.

AI on the ball: Recommended next steps

While physical security at the venue is important, it is equally critical to have a holistic view  of what is happening on the ground in real time.  This demands significant manpower, time and effort, with control room staff viewing video footage and manually scanning for troublesome elements. Collaborating with a technology partner enables you to enhance your security protocols with a robust AI solution to support your  security and control room staff. With  hundreds of video feeds being processed in real time and alerts being generated in less than a second. VISuite is a software solution that uses pre-trained AI models combined with scenario-based rules and GPU-enabled hardware to provide you with dynamic insights. Importantly, this technology works with your existing legacy CCTV and VMS infrastructure and other IoT devices to provide a range of proven capabilities that align with the operational and technical requirements of stadium.

Using advanced algorithms,  metadata is extracted from live video streams according to the parameters set for a particular camera which could be certain behaviours or events. When an alert is generated, it is automatically sent to the VMS for the operators to manage according to their SOPs. This workflow improves response times, boosts operational efficiency, and reduces stress in the control room where there may be 100+ cameras to be monitored during a game. .

VISuite works together with the Eviden Computer Vision Platform, a highly scalable end-to-end solution powered by the industry-leading BullSequana server range and backed up with years of expertise. If you are looking for an optimizable, scalable security solution for your stadium without compromising on the ultimate fan experience, Eviden experts are ready to help. Do not get blindsided by the challenges that come your way. Keep your eye on the ball and leverage the power of AI to enhance security and experience at your events. It is truly a winning combination.