Arsenal Football Club
Emirates stadium sets new standards in crowd safety, control and communication
When you have 700 stewards responsible for the safety of 60,000 customers, effective communications are vital. Too slow a response time can change an incident into a crisis. In a medical emergency that can mean the difference between life and death.
At Arsenal FC's stunning new home, the Emirates Stadium, they've found a state-of-the-art solution in StewardCall. According to the Stadium's Manager, StewardCall not only allows all 700 stewards to communicate instantly with supervisors and emergency staff but also keeps the control room fully informed about what's going on and where, throughout the stadium, before, during and after the game.
Having been involved in stadium management with Arsenal for over 19 years, he comments, "I'm not aware of any stadium in the world with such an effective system - StewardCall has set new standards".
StewardCall was developed by Call-Systems Technology (CST) in direct response to Arsenal's requirements. Every steward carries a small wireless transmitter, which has four buttons - one to summon a supervisor, one for medical help, one for an ejection squad and one for cleaners. Pressing a button sends an instant alert to pagers worn by the relevant personnel.
At the heart of the system is CST's Genesis communications software. This program logs and displays all the wireless traffic, giving the control room an immediate overview of every situation as it occurs. Messages and alerts can also be sent by key staff to individuals and pager groups via numerous terminals throughout the stadium's existing PC network.
"The message activity log is an important benefit, not only for management data but also for due diligence - it shows exactly when an emergency or request for assistance was reported," he continues. "Since going live, the log reports show that the average number of calls has settled to around 300 to 350 per game".
Clearly the log is something that 2-way radios couldn't offer, but it's not the only reason that they aren't a viable solution. "700 stewards with 2-way radios would generate an impossible amount of radio traffic, especially in an emergency" he explains. "StewardCall is instant and effective." As an independent system, StewardCall's technology ensure that all messages are received, regardless of the amount of radio traffic. It also has the added benefit of being significantly cheaper - less than one quarter the cost of a 700-unit radio system.
“We still have 130 radios, including sixty for the supervisors,” he says. “We try to keep radio traffic to a minimum. In quiet areas of the stadium, such as the lounges, they’re intrusive. In amongst the crowd they’re often difficult to hear. With pagers you get a clear, instant message that stays until the recipient has read it.” What’s more, StewardCall can be used as a viable substitute if the radio system fails – as happened for a short while in one game soon after the stadium opened.
StewardCall also makes light work of some of the more complex tasks of running a stadium. For example, opening and closing the stadium requires extensive sweeps and checks. In the old Highbury days, the control room would have to call up each supervisor to confirm that their area was clear. With StewardCall, the Supervisors just push a button on their transmitter to confirm the status. All the control room has to do is call up any who haven’t responded. “Now we make maybe six or seven calls instead of sixty,”. He adds, “It makes the job a lot easier and quicker.”
In fact, the basic wireless technology has already been well proven in the USA by many NFL, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and College Football venues. However these users tend to only cover the ‘bowl’ as opposed to the ‘whole’ stadium. Although the Emirates ‘bowl’ only needed two repeaters for coverage, the Stadium Manager wanted to cover the entire stadium including the corridors, car parks, the adjacent offices in Highbury House, the Museum, club shop, lounges, backrooms and various other remote areas.
Concrete and steel are no friends to radio waves but with strategic positioning of additional wireless repeaters, CST achieved the full coverage required. By adding their Genesis software, the basic wireless technology has been transformed into StewardCall; not only guaranteeing total coverage but also delivering many extra benefits, particularly call logging and two-way messaging.
Genesis is a comprehensive software solution in its own right offering a variety of value added benefits. For example, it monitors exits, fire doors, alarms and virtually any critical equipment. If a monitor or alarm is triggered, Genesis will automatically alert the relevant members of staff, using pagers, phones or email. It can even send messages to third parties off-site. Genesis can also be pre-programmed to send future reminders for events such as staff meetings or scheduled routine maintenance tasks, from minutes to months ahead.
Genesis incorporates phones, pagers and email, providing the fastest and most effective on-site communications package. By logging all calls sent via a StewardCall button or any PC on the stadium LAN, it provides valuable management data. For example, highlighting areas of unusually high activity or pinpointing members of staff who take too long to respond to messages.
“Arsenal is the first club in the world to install the total StewardCall system,” says CST’s Ashley Sheppard. “Since its debut in the Emirates Stadium, we’ve had a lot of enquiries about StewardCall from other clubs both in the English and Scottish leagues.”
“There’s every reason why StewardCall should be of interest to all major sporting stadiums, concert arenas and large capacity venues,” he adds. “As a practical crowd safety solution it’s well ahead of the game. Compared to alternative communications, StewardCall offers significantly more benefits for a considerably lower investment.”
The Emirate's Stadium Manager was also impressed with the speed in which CST were able to develop and install StewardCall. “We had been looking for a system for some time. In the event, from meeting CST to commissioning the system took less than five months. Considering the complexity of the situation that was very fast indeed.”
He is a big fan of StewardCall. “The beauty of the system is that it gives all 700 of our stewards a simple, effective, fast way to communicate,” he says. “And it keeps us firmly in the know.”
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