Fulham FC introduces tablet CCTV

Selecting cameras on iPad app
Image caption Security staff can access the new HD CCTV system using mobile devices, including iPads

Ground staff at Fulham FC can now keep an eye out for trouble using tablets and smartphones.

The Premier League club has installed an advanced security system that allows employees to wirelessly monitor its network of 63 HD cameras.

Images of troublemakers can be quickly circulated to police and Fulham's own crowd control team.

In future the technology may incorporate facial recognition, linked to a database of known hooligans.

Instant action

Image caption The old CCTV system was ditched in favour of ethernet-connected high definition cameras

The entire system runs on an IP computer network, meaning that cameras are hooked-up using standard ethernet cables.

Video is stored on a central server and can be accessed by a range of devices, securely connected to Fulham's wi-fi mesh network.

This allows local and remote access via a range of devices, including the iPads and iPhone currently being tried out.

Users control the cameras by dragging their finger across the screen and can even use the standard pinch-to-zoom feature.

Before the upgrade, the ground was equipped with 27 standard definition cameras, each recording onto its own VHS tape deck.

"Incidents that happened were taking days to recover. We can now do that within seconds," said Nicolas Pendlebury, Fulham FC's head of IT projects.

Image caption Operators can zoom in on the stands at a high resolution

"Say there are five fans in the away end breaking seats, we would bookmark the image in the application, email those photos to one of our response team and say 'please eject these people'.

"They can't argue it is not them. It stands up in court if we need to take it there."

The higher quality provided by the HD cameras means that the club can now produce still images to help identify troublemakers, in contrast to the poor results lifted from its old system.

"The closest we could get to any fan was four or five people wide by four or five high. The image was like, 'do you know this man?', and you would say 'is it a man?'," said Mr Pendlebury

Smart CCTV

Artificial intelligence promises to add even more advanced features to the new CCTV setup in future.

In addition to facial recognition, linked to a national database of football hooligans, the club is hoping to introduce systems that can detect suspicious behaviour.

Image caption The club is in the process of blacking out sensitive locations nearby

"We are looking at a tool that can pick up threats. For example, if it sees me walking into a room with a bag, but leaving without the bag, it will pick up that I entered with something and left with nothing," said Mr Pendlebury.

Because the system is online, the club has put in place a range of safeguards to ensure that access to the feeds is secure.

Use of the remote access devices, including iPads is currently limited to four authorised individuals, and is only possible while connected to the club's own private network.

Fulham is also putting in place privacy measures to protect local residents whose homes may fall within the camera's field of view.

The location of windows on nearby houses has been digitally mapped and will be automatically blacked out.

Installation challenge

Much of the technology installed at Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium, as well as its Motspur Park player training facility, was developed for airport security systems.

Some elements have been used at sporting grounds already, but the club believes it is the first to bring together high definition IP cameras with an in-house cloud storage system.

Image caption HD or no HD, Fulham could only manage a 1-1 draw against Blackburn

Fitting around the day-to-day business of a football club was a novel challenge for IT firm EMC which managed the Fulham project.

"When you are implementing a solution at an airport, you've got the run of the airport," explained Trevor Adams, EMC's physical security solutions practice manager.

At a football stadium you have a number of days when you can work and match days when you can't really do anything at all.

EMC said it was particularly pleased to have got the iPad and smartphone aspect of the project working. It was something, said Mr Adams, that it would likely take to other, similar installations in future.

One thing the system can't do is improve results on the pitch. On the day that Fulham rolled out its new cloud HD CCTV, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Blackburn.

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