Event surveillance should be near the top of every organizers priority list, and having that ubiquitous perspective is essential for managing any mass gathering nowadays.
It’s a tragic reality that grave threats to the safety of your patrons have to be considered from the moment you start planning an event.
Event security today is a multi-team collaboration that relies on cutting-edge technology and expert command and control. Few people know as much about this synergy as event surveillance expert Chad Ladov.
Ladov is the founder of Unified Command, a wireless HD event surveillance firm. Ladov has worked in high-level security, venue, and event management services for over twenty years, and his firm has kept a close eye on the NCAA Men’s Final Four, Outside Lands, EDC Las Vegas, and scores more major events.
“I recognized that there was a need to bring the kind of event surveillance that stadiums have to the one-off event industry. We set about creating a wireless technology that would allow us to see the whole venue without laying miles of cable,” explains Ladov, who himself oversaw all game day operations with the Oakland Raiders.
“We are able to come into a site that had no infrastructure and very quickly we have eyes on everything; the gates, the entrance, the parking lot, the stage area, the bars.
“No longer is the command center in the dark just listening to radio calls. We’re directing people towards things because we could see them better than they could. We have a 360, high-definition view of the site. You can only get from surveillance cameras.”
Chad spoke to Intellitix about contemporary event surveillance systems, the huge advancements in tech, and why there’s a lot more to their role than monitoring suspicious activity.
Event Surveillance Tech Has Significantly Improved
“We started doing this at the right time when cameras were able to do 30x zoom—which is a tremendous amount of zoom—, full pan and tilt,” Ladov explains. “So that’s full range of motion, infrared capability for nighttime viewing, and these cameras are now weighing five pounds, six pounds. This is where the industry is now.”
Huge advances in camera and wireless technology have allowed for Unified Command to achieve an incredible amount with a reasonably lean team, and their accompanying software systems are built with the frantic realities of event production in mind. “Now we’re offering the operators and the directors of this event cameras on their phone, iPad, computer, on a screen in their office, as well as the command center. And it is a very, very powerful tool.”
Liability is Key
Protection goes both ways. Yes, you can spot and accost that shifty character before he manages to make off with someone’s bag. But you can also protect yourself if someone files a lawsuit against you. High-quality event surveillance allows for context in a way that the inevitable fan-shot cell phone footage of the incident probably won’t.
“95% of people at a festival have high-definition cameras in their pockets, and if something goes wrong they start videotaping things. Well, we don’t want just their perspective out there in the courts, or in the court of public opinion. We want our view of it as well. And I tell that to clients all the time.”
“You can’t pretend that this doesn’t exist. Wouldn’t you rather have a professional perspective to support you as opposed to random cell phone footage?”
Fresh Look at Logistics
“We’re putting this tool in the hands of the managers and producers who have to be everywhere. Now they open up their phone, and they’re moving our cameras. They can highlight on the ground what’s not being done properly,” Ladov explains.
“Now they’re looking at these cameras, and they’re covering the whole site in about 20 minutes! They could never cover that amount of ground before. Getting this tech into the hands of the people that are making the calls has been a huge advancement in our industry. Every event producer should take advantage of it.”
Being Discrete is Important
Your fans should know that there is ample security at your event, but creating an ominous Big Brother-feeling isn’t desirable. Ladov insists that while the presence of event surveillance is important, his firm has designed their equipment to adapt to the landscape and blend into their surroundings.
“Unified were able to build our own mounts and attach these things to trees, poles, stages, front of house, barricades. We can mount these things to almost anything, and they look very nondescript. I even spray painted a camera a metallic silver glitter so that it matched the stage! So it’s a really seamless thing for the event now.”
Collaborating with Other Tech and Teams
Ultimately, there needs to be cohesion between all elements of the event operations team. Chad believes that the most effective collaboration for security lies in all-seeing surveillance, a secure perimeter, and RFID access control.
“You need a combination of long and short range access control RFID systems, widespread surveillance system, and a sturdy perimeter,” he says.
Unified’s technology and Chad’s understanding of the frank realities of event security should give any organizer pause for thought. The world is changing around us. The spaces that might have been considered relatively safe a decade ago are now high-risk for terror threats. Taking your event surveillance system seriously does your fans and your business a great service.
“Are we Big Brother? Yeah, absolutely!” says Chad. “But we’re also your partner. We’re your eyes and your ears. We’re the ones that make sure that the garbage can is getting cleaned up, that we’ve got enough staff at that gate, that someone is inspecting that abandoned backpack. We are providing so much oversight at these events now that we can run a truly excellent command-and-control operation.”
To find out more about how Unified Command could help your live event, visit their website.