The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at Southern Miss will conduct real-time testing and evaluation of surveillance technology in conjunction with the Golden Eagles’ home football game against the University of Tulsa on Saturday, Nov. 21 at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
A total of 12 high-definition cameras will be positioned outside and inside the stadium complex to monitor fan activity. Two national surveillance companies – Avigilon and Pixel Velocity – have teamed up with the NCS4 to test the equipment and related procedures. This exercise serves as the launch of the national lab at NCS4 in which sophisticated testing of this nature will be conducted on a regular basis.
“Video surveillance has surfaced as the top issue facing the security industry right now,” said Dr. Lou Marciani, NCS4 director. “The goal with our lab is to vet security solutions for sports at all levels, from college to professional. There is no one else right now doing what we are for collegiate venues through this lab.”
Safety and security experts from across the country will serve as independent evaluators of the entire operation which includes a set of pre-arranged scenarios designed to mimic “suspicious” activities. The game-day test will begin with an initial scenario approximately 3½ hours before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff and continue until the final phase is completed during the first quarter.
Jerry Surak, chief scientist with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), helped develop the scenarios that will be evaluated after spending more than a year working with NCS4 officials on the testing protocol.
“What we have put together is so subtle that the average fan will probably not notice anything out of the ordinary,” said Surak. “However, if fans do see something suspicious and decide to report it, that would certainly be a good thing.”
The lab test will also involve members of the Southern Miss Police Department as well as law enforcement representatives and emergency management officials from the surrounding area. University Police Chief Bob Hopkins said the surveillance test should not cause any game-day disruptions.
“Our fans should be aware that this exercise will not interfere with their game-day experience,” said Hopkins. “As always we want them to be vigilant and to report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary to one of our uniformed officers or by calling 601.266.4986.”
Fans who wish to report unruly behavior or related incidents may also use the text-messaging system already in place for Southern Miss home games. Fans can simply text “4153”, followed by “USM”, followed by a space, then a brief description of the incident and location.
“There’s really a two-pronged payoff to what we’re doing with this lab experiment,” said Marciani. “On one hand we get to test the protocols and procedures we’ve been working on here at the National Center for the past two years.
“But we’re also providing a test lab for these surveillance companies to determine whether or not their equipment can perform exactly as advertised.”
Established in 2006, NCS4 is the only sports security training organization of its kind in the United States and remains the recognized leader in addressing potential threats and risks to the safety and security of sporting events. Through research, education and innovative solutions, the center continues to enhance the level of preparedness at sporting venues worldwide.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.