In 2013, Everton FC modernised the video security system at their home ground, Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. At that time, the club opted for a solution from the German manufacturer Dallmeier, with the patented Panomera multifocal sensor system at its heart. In this interview, David Lewis, Head of Security and Stadium Safety at Everton FC, looks back on the challenges and more than seven years of very positive experiences.
Mr Lewis, can you briefly describe why Everton FC decided to upgrade its video surveillance system in 2013?
Yes, very much so. Then as now, the main problems we face on match days in football stadiums are throwing objects, burning pyrotechnics, and other forms of vandalism. We were frustrated that our old video surveillance system – consisting of megapixel and PTZ cameras – was not able to identify offenders and impose a stadium ban on them.
We had two main risk areas where we wanted to identify offenders and take countermeasures in the event of an incident: one was the guest area, where away fans have regularly thrown objects in the past, and the other was the stadium corner where our supporters and guest fans meet.
How did it come about that Dallmeier finally got the order?
At the beginning of the project we decided to invite a total of five CCTV manufacturers – including Dallmeier – to Goodison Park to present us with a suitable CCTV solution in the form of separate test setups. During the selection process, Dallmeier’s Panomera cameras were able to deliver the highest quality images in both normal daylight and low floodlight, not only live but also recorded at the highest resolution quality in all areas of the image. Another decisive advantage was that the Panomera cameras enable us to capture large areas with only a few systems and zoom into detailed areas even during recording, while maintaining the high-resolution overall view at all times. In the end, these reasons were decisive in awarding Dallmeier the contract for video security in Goodison Park.
What did the solution actually look like?
Well, first of all the Panomera cameras were used to cover the two risk areas mentioned above. This solution was a complete success, so we decided to gradually cover the rest of the stands in the stadium with Panomera in order to be able to penalise less serious incidents such as minor skirmishes, smoking in the stadium, etc. Today, we are able to identify offenders on every single seat in the stadium with only six Panomera cameras.
What concrete successes have you achieved with the Dallmeier solution so far?
Overall, with the Panomera cameras we have been able to significantly increase our stadium security and reduce the number of incidents. The fans now know that they can be identified and punished if they do something wrong and endanger the safety of their fellow human beings. Nevertheless, there are of course always people who attract negative attention, but with the help of Panomera technology we can bring them to justice in a timely manner.
Could you give us some examples?
In the 2017/2018 season, we played a considerable number of home matches in the UEFA Europa League, including the qualifying rounds. We were confronted with massive problems in every game – some fans reached the edge of the pitch and threw objects onto the field. In addition, we were able to successfully prevent a “streaker” attempt and a physical attack on our players from someone who was in a melee near the edge of the pitch. We were able to intervene quickly because we had an excellent overview of the situations with the Panomera cameras. In addition, we were able to track where the people were sitting and even trace them back to the entrance on the video recordings. This enabled us to identify them and issue a stadium ban.
The same applies to a stadium visitor who threw a coin at one of our players during a corner kick in 2018. Again, we were able to investigate this case immediately and locate the fan a few home games later in the stadium and issue a stadium ban. And even if we can’t find a person in the video recordings on a match day, we’ll simply sort the matter out a few days later.
Is there any feedback from the local police?
Yes, there is. In the event of a serious incident, we can immediately forward video material directly to the police before the they leave the stadium on match day. This way, in the event of severe cases of crime, we can guarantee that prosecution will take place as soon as possible.