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Security at the Little League World Series

By Joan Goodchild, CSO
August 30, 2010 11:42 AM ET

CSO - The 2010 Little League World Series wrapped up yesterday in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The series, which is the world's largest youth sporting event, took place over nine days and saw 30 games played between the best teams in Little League baseball. On its final day, more than 29,000 fans turned out to watch a Japanese team defeat a team from Waipahu, Hawaii. It is the first time a Japanese team has taken the title in the event's history.

While the Little League World Series may conjure up images of family fun and young athletes at the top of their game, putting all the pieces together is certainly no small feat, particularly when it comes to security. CSO asked James Ferguson, Director of Security, Assistant Director of Risk Management, Little League International, about what it takes to keep the event secure and running smoothly.

What are the unique security challenges of an event like the Little League World Series when compared to other sporting events?

The primary challenge in securing an international event like the Little League World Series is the fact that many of the security needs -- from a technology perspective -- are somewhat temporary for the duration of the 10-day Series. Little League Baseball and Softball International employs approximately 100 full-time personnel on the Little League complex, year-round. The permanent security system consists of a Lenel access control and solution utilizing HID iCLASS readers for card-access for the complex buildings, and Axis cameras for full-time video surveillance of the complex.

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During the two week World Series, however, the system nearly triples in size as Lenel and Axis donate mobile access control points and additional cameras to enhance and supplement the permanent system. All of this supplemental equipment is set up by Lenel and Axis volunteers in a single weekend and taken down again at the end of the Series. This way, Little League benefits from both the additional equipment that helps to meet the augmented need for security during the event, but also the fact that, since the equipment is donated annually, we always have access to the latest and greatest, cutting-edge equipment each year.

The network-based nature of both the Lenel software and the Axis IP cameras allows for these additions to the system to be configured in such a short period of time. Using Little League's existing network infrastructure, we are able to add access control points, IP cameras, and security monitoring stations quickly and easily, anywhere on the secure network. The flexible nature of the security components also helps with inter-agency cooperation as security information and video surveillance can be shared across the multiple agencies, local, state, and federal law enforcement, as well as contract Little League security officers, that help to protect the event.

How can you balance keeping the environment family friendly and easy going with also having tight security?

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