When talking about Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States, it’s hard not to think of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. With a history spanning more than 100 years, the Chicago Cubs are one of the most recognized teams in professional sports.
Every season, over 40,000 passionate and loyal fans flock to 81+ home games at Wrigley Field in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. But Wrigley Field isn’t like any other ballpark. Built in 1914, it’s one of the oldest and most iconic ballparks in the U.S. Living up to its nickname “The Friendly Confines,” Wrigley Field warmly welcomes all to experience a genuine all-American neighborhood baseball game.
Getting Ready to Modernize Ballpark Security
Wrigley Field has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. In an effort to provide fans and players with updated amenities within the 100-plus-year-old ballpark, the Chicago Cubs launched a restoration and expansion project in 2014, known as The 1060 Project. The 1060 Project was designed to ensure the viability of the ballpark for future generations of Cubs fans, while preserving the beauty, charm, and historic features fans have come to know and love.
The 1060 Project also expanded the footprint of Wrigley Field and the surrounding campus. For the Chicago Cubs security team, that meant keeping people safe well beyond Wrigley Field itself. They also needed to oversee security at the neighboring venues, parking lots, and the Chicago Cubs Front Office.
The problem was that the existing security installation couldn’t keep up with these new demands. Over the years, various independent security systems were deployed. And while the security team managed to work with these multiple platforms at the same time, it slowed down investigations and response times.
Storage infrastructure was also aged and limited the team’s ability to grow and remain compliant. Dealing with recurring maintenance issues eventually forced the team into a break-fix approach. They knew this wasn’t sustainable if they wanted to keep enhancing security and the fan experience.
Doug Lindsay, VP of security at the Chicago Cubs, summed up the top challenges: “We have a facility that’s over 100 years old and nestled in the middle of a residential neighborhood. We need to ensure people can get here and have a great experience and the neighborhood remains safe. Plus, under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Safety Act, we need to ensure 30 days of video retention, but our existing servers kept hitting max capacity. It was also difficult to work around the old building infrastructure to upgrade our security systems. The 1060 project gave us an opportunity to modernize our technology stack.”
Selecting Genetec Security Center, Omnicast, and Streamvault
Following the completion of The 1060 Project, the security and technology departments at the Chicago Cubs teamed up to oversee a massive physical security upgrade. They needed a scalable platform to expand their coverage across the ballpark and community. They also wanted to invest in a solution that would help them become more proactive in their approach to security.
Unified system management, visual map navigation, and automated alerts were all features they knew could enhance their teams’ efficiencies. They also needed server infrastructure that would meet the requirements of their newly built Joint Operations Center (JOC).
After a lengthy request for proposal (RFP) process, the Chicago Cubs decided on Genetec Security Center with the Omnicast video management system (VMS) and the Streamvault security infrastructure solution.
Steve Inman, VP of technology at the Chicago Cubs, noted Genetec Security Center is an open platform with hundreds of compatible integrations and praised its API capabilities.
“When we chose Genetec Security Center, we were thinking about our objectives 10+ years down the line,” said Inman. “That flexibility opens us up to so many other possibilities in the future.”
Enhancing Operator Efficiency with One Security View
Today, the Chicago Cubs security team manages high-definition and multi-lens cameras all across the Wrigley Field campus from their Joint Operations Center (JOC) through Genetec Omnicast. They also integrated an existing access control system within Security Center and deployed multiple Genetec Streamvault appliances with built-in failover and redundancy.
“The deployment of Security Center with the Omnicast VMS has gone smoothly, and nothing has fallen outside of our timeline. Considering how quickly and how much we’ve expanded our security footprint, that’s been impressive,” said Inman.
With Security Center and Omnicast up on their monitors, the team now has an all-encompassing picture of the ballpark’s security. And though they are still in the early days of its deployment, they feel more in control of their environment than ever before.
“In the past, our security team would have a bunch of different platforms up concurrently. They’d have to know how to find information and piece it together quickly. On a busy game day, when we’re managing many different situations, that’s hard work,” explained Lindsay. “With Security Center, all that information is coming into one platform, so they see what’s happening and focus exclusively on the tasks at hand. We’re definitely seeing a higher level of efficiency across our team.”
More recently, the Chicago Cubs implemented Plan Manager, the map-based interface. Now, instead of having to remember device names and locations, they can easily find cameras and doors, and even monitor alarms directly from a map of the ballpark. They plan to continue expanding the system by setting up event-to-actions, adding standard operating procedures, and extending system access to field staff using the Genetec Mobile app.
“We’re excited about what the platform can do. It’s a more visual and intuitive experience for our operators. Having that integration between video surveillance and access control and getting embedded alerts with video when a cardholder enters a door—that’s been a huge upgrade. We didn’t have that kind of real-time visibility before,” said Lindsay.
Simplifying Video Expansion with Omnicast and Streamvault Appliances
Deploying Genetec Omnicast onboard the Streamvault infrastructure solution was a critical piece of the puzzle for the Chicago Cubs. Following implementation, the team ramped up processing power and storage capacity to better adhere to DHS Safety Act compliance mandates and accommodate future growth plans. They now have space left for expansions beyond the required 30-day video retention.
“Streamvault came pre-loaded with Genetec Omnicast and pre-configured for our installation requirements. So, the amount of time that it took us to get our video system up and running was incredibly quick, said Inman. “We haven’t seen that level of deployment efficiency with any of the other tools that we’ve put in place. And from a scalability perspective, we’ve been able to increase our processing and storage capacity in a big way without needing to redesign other components on the back end of our infrastructure. It’s been plug-and-play with Streamvault.”
Another big benefit of choosing Streamvault with Omnicast onboard was the ability to connect all systems back to the JOC for centralized management. This allows the team to expand their surveillance efforts to other smaller, remote locations and get real-time visibility on those sites when required. Looking ahead, the team sees an opportunity to leverage the cloud connectivity of Streamvault appliances to further expand their operations, while reducing their hardware footprint across their sites.
Streamvault appliances also come pre-hardened with all cybersecurity features enabled by default. This has given the Chicago Cubs an expedited path to modernizing their security infrastructure while maintaining cyber resilience.
“We run everything through the MLB cybersecurity program. As we went through this process, determined what we needed, and found the best solution to meet our requirements, we were heavily focused on ensuring cybersecurity best practices,” said Inman. “Then we had another layer of approval from MLB whose team looked closely at all cybersecurity aspects of Genetec technology. To get the green light from them validated that we chose the right technology partner and product.”
Planning for Future Growth Opportunities
The Chicago Cubs are just beginning to unlock the power of Genetec solutions. And with ambitious plans in mind, they’re keen to keep evolving and expanding their security footprint.
The next phase of deployment will include deploying Genetec solutions at Sloan Park, the Cub’s spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona, and eventually at the Chicago Cubs Academy in the Dominican Republic. Since these sites are more remote and have limited staff throughout the year, they plan to connect these systems back to the Wrigley Field JOC to offer additional support and remote assistance as needed.
The Chicago Cubs are also looking for ways to collaborate more closely with Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). According to Lindsay, deploying Genetec Security Center makes it possible.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with the Chicago OEMC, but sharing system access wasn’t possible with our previous system. Since bringing Genetec on board, we’ve started talking about using the Federation feature to give them access to some of our exterior cameras. This would expand their visibility across the city,” said Lindsay.
“We’re also looking at installing AutoVu automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras around our ballpark and federating those with the Chicago OEMC. They can respond to any alerts to wanted vehicles or known suspects. This partnership makes Wrigley Field and our community safer.”
Another big enhancement on the horizon is enabling built-in video analytics within Security Center. The team is already looking at deploying KiwiVision Intrusion Detector to help off-season or nighttime staff better detect threats. They’re also interested in using KiwiVision People Counter and Crowd Estimation analytics to identify bottlenecks on game days and streamline the flow of people moving through the ballpark.
Inman said, “We have numerous other operational technologies outside of safety and security. Having Genetec Security Center and the Omnicast VMS has opened our minds to many other future use cases and different ways to enhance our daily operations and the guest experience.
“There are so many integrations, capabilities, and features available to us. We’re excited to maximize the use of the Genetec platform across our business and find new ways to keep enhancing that one-of-a-kind ballpark experience that all Chicago Cubs fans and Wrigley Field visitors know and love,” concluded Inman.
Rick Taylor is national director of the public sector at Genetec Inc. Prior to joining Genetec in 2013, Taylor gained nearly a decade of experience in the security field, including positions as district manager at both UTC Fire & Security and GE, and as vice president at Esscoe for the company’s Security Practice. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Applied Sciences of Aviation Administration from Lewis University.