Recently upgraded by security system specialist Thorne Access & Security, the CCTV installation at the Bolton Wanderers football ground, which uses equipment from Vanderbilt Security Products, is not only providing a dependable foundation for all safety and security operations in and around the ground, but is also helping the club to save money.

The club, which prides itself in taking a pro-active stance on the use of CCTV, has described the new installation as a fantastic tool for safety and security, and is using it for a wide range of functions, both on match days and at other times. It is, of course, used to watch for incidents and unacceptable behavior which, on a typical match day, can result in around five persons being turned out of the ground.

Crowd and traffic management

It is also playing a vital role in crowd control, providing the ground safety officer and the police - who on match days have officers stationed in the club's CCTV control room - with the accurate up-to-the-minute information they need to optimize the safety of the visitors to the ground.

In addition, the CCTV system at Bolton is proving an essential aid for the management of vehicular traffic. On match days, traffic managers from Greater Manchester Council make use of the control room to monitor the movement and build-up of traffic. Based on the information obtained in this way, they manually control the traffic lights around the ground so as to minimize hold ups and traffic disruption.

On non-match days, the primary function of the installation is to protect the ground against unauthorized intruders and possible vandalism.

Versatile and cost-effective solution

“There's no doubt that our CCTV installation saves us a lot of money”, said a spokesman for Bolton Wanderers Football Club, “Without it, the only way we could protect the ground and the fans effectively would be to employ many more security staff. That would be very expensive, and even then we wouldn't have anything like the flexibility and coverage that the CCTV gives us. Not only is the CCTV a fantastic tool, it's also a big money saver.”

Thorne has found the company's product range to combine performance and reliability with versatility and value for money

Long aware of the important benefits offered by CCTV, Bolton Wanderers FC has been using systems supplied by Thorne Access & Security for more than a decade, with excellent results. All the systems were based on equipment from Vanderbilt Security Products - formerly known as Bewator - as Thorne has found the company's product range to combine performance and reliability with versatility and value for money.

Upgrading security systems

Recently, however, the existing CCTV equipment was starting to show its age it was, for example, easily out-performed by more modern products and its reliability was showing signs of deterioration.

Accordingly the club decided that a major upgrade was needed and, because of its longstanding and excellent relationship with the company, it approached Thorne Access & Security for advice. The company was not only able to make detailed and cost-effective recommendations, it was also able to show its ideas in action by arranging for the decision makers from Bolton Wanders to visit and inspect a comparable installation it had recently completed using Vanderbilt equipment at Burnley Football Club.

The visit to Burnley provided a convincing demonstration of the expertise of both Thorne and Vanderbilt in CCTV security systems for sports grounds. This was important, as the requirements are very different from those relating to the retail and commercial applications with which most CCTV suppliers are much more familiar. As a result of the demonstration at Burnley, Bolton Wanderers Football Club had no hesitation in placing the contract for the upgrade work with the Thorne.

PTZ and dome camera applications

The first stage of the work was the replacement of cameras outside the ground, which are used to monitor, for example, the surrounding roads, footpaths and car parks. For this application, Thorne chose some Vanderbilt pan and tilt cameras and housings. These cameras were selected not only for their versatility and ease of servicing, but also because they are readily visible and, therefore, act as a useful deterrent to miscreants.

When the cameras within the ground, which principally monitor the concourse and public circulation areas, were subsequently replaced, Vanderbilt Solaris dome models were chosen. These versatile units are much less conspicuous than their PTZ counterparts, which is desirable for indoor applications. They also have a high dynamic range feature that allows them to capture excellent images even when the subject is backlit - for example, when they are entering through a doorway, or standing with their back to a window.

Efficient installations

The most recently completed stage of the upgrade work is the replacement of the video switching matrix with two of the latest Vanderbilt V3i units operating in tandem. Between them, these compact and attractively priced units have capacity for the connection of up to 64 cameras, and they provide 16 output channels.

Thorne achieved the remarkable
feat of installing and commissioning
the new video matrix system within
just four days of receiving an order

In order to accommodate the club's requirement that the CCTV should always be fully operational on match days, Thorne achieved the remarkable feat of installing and commissioning the new video matrix system within just four days of receiving an order for the work to go ahead.

Future plans and services

Since all of the new cameras and the new video matrix are network compatible, Thorne has taken the opportunity to install Category 5e cabling wherever possible during the upgrade work. Some of the new cabling is for immediate use, but some is provision for a future complete conversion of the site to networked operation. The final stage of the upgrade, which has not yet been implemented, will be to refurbish the control room.

The involvement of Thorne Access & Security at Bolton Football Club is not limited to the supply and installation of equipment - the company also maintains the installation and provides a fast-response service for faults, particularly those that occur on match days.

“Over the years, we have had very few equipment failures, even with the old system”, said Hadrian Thorne of Thorne Access & Security, “But when they do occur, it's almost always on a match day. That's not just sod's law on match days, heavy loads such as the floodlights are switched on, and the resulting surges on the ground's electrical supply can provoke equipment failures.”

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