Batter up! Protecting Little League World Series

Female phenom draws crowds—and need for added security—at this year’s event
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.—A 13-year-old female pitching phenom has drawn unexpected crowds to the Little League World Series this month, testing physical security for the annual event in this small town.

With her 70 mph fastball, Mo’ne Davis became the first girl to a throw a shutout in LLWS history. She plays for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons, and her fans have been attending semifinal games in their home state by the busloads, according to Robert Muehlbauer, business development manager for Axis Communications.

Axis, Lenel Systems and Extreme Networks have security under control to handle the deluge of spectators, Muehlbauer told Security Director News, the sister publication of Security Systems News.

Muehlbaur was on site Aug. 16 and witnessed the crowd pouring in for semifinal games. About 32,000 attended. “This is usually the type of crowd you get for the finals,” he said.

Axis has been working with Little League World Series security professionals for about five years, Muehlbauer said.

Williamsport, with a population of less than 30,000, was the birthplace of the Little League World Series and annually hosts the two-week spectacular. In a town that small, high security is only necessary during the event to protect players, coaches and spectators, Muehlbauer said.

That’s why Axis partnered with integrated access control provider Lenel Systems and high-performance networking provider Extreme Networks to deploy temporary solutions for the series.

“This two weeks is crazy for (Williamsport). There are hundreds of thousands of people. Each year we really step up and add to the experience,” he said.

Axis equipment used in previous years is swapped up for the latest versions. This year, he said, camera coverage of the town’s LLWS venues, two back-to-back baseball fields, was “stepped up from 50 percent to 90 percent.”

Axis cameras being deployed include the Q6045 for crowd monitoring, people approaching secured areas and suspicious packages; P8514 for people counting; and the Q1921 thermal camera for monitoring fence lines.

The security, set up quickly over one weekend before the event begins and then mostly taken down right after, includes monitoring open environments, he said.

Coaches and players are housed at dormitories with no typical security gates. Using Lenel’s access control system and video management system, each coach and young player is provided with an access control badge.

“They have to badge in and badge out to make sure they’re all there,” Muehlbauer said.

Extreme Networks provides switches and wireless equipment.

Thermal cameras are focused on the 8-foot fences that surround the team residences, he said. “It would be easy to climb over” the fences, but the cameras cover that, he said, ensuring the teams’ safety.

“It’s a very unique environment,” Muehlbauer said of the LLWS.

In the world of sports, events such as the MLB World Series and the Super Bowl have established facilities “with millions of dollars in budgets” to include security, he said.

“The Little League World Series is relatively small, with not a lot of resources, with temporary needs, but it’s on the world stage. Hundreds of thousands of people are watching this, and government views it as a global event. This is a very great opportunity for Axis, and we’re happy to do that for the children,” he said.

Check back for an interview with LLWS security director Jim Ferguson.