Challenger IP for West Australian Cricket Association
Image by Christian KomnickSince the first grandstand was built on this site way back in 1895, the West Australian Cricket Association ground in Perth, (known as the WACA to locals), has been the premier sporting facility in Western Australia. It has hosted test match cricket, rugby league and AFL matches at the highest levels. With the recent approval by the W.A. Government of the Riverside Master Plan, which included the proposed redevelopment of the WACA Ground into a more modern facility for cricket with commercial, retail and residential elements, the installation of a capable and scalable access control solution has been vital to the future security of the WACA site. Sports stadiums are tough applications for site managers and security integrators and the WACA is no exception. Physical size is the key challenge. Another issue is that sporting grounds feature islands of construction, with huge stands separated by playing fields and acres of ground level seating. Along with characteristic isolated stands, a typical sporting venue will include multiple administrative buildings and structures – all of which must be secured. In the past the only way to handle such applications was with multiple access control and alarm systems, each managed and even monitored separately. If this sounds no more than mildly challenging consider the difficulties on a site with 65 staff, many needing access to multiple buildings and multiple access control systems. On game days, with the attendance of police, administration staff, caterers and more, the complexities multiply.
“Prior to the advent of this IP LAN product, integrating all areas of the WACA site into one system was simply not viable. Now the site’s existing network infrastructure can be used, meaning it was a simple plug-and-play process for us as installers”Kane Stevens, Austech Surveillance
From a technical perspective, size is the major challenge. It’s not impossible to employ big RS-485 party-lined comms networks on sites like the WACA. But while RS-485 is bi-directional, half duplex and offers multi-drop communications supporting 32 receivers and 32 drivers, this capability does not approach the overall flexibility of IP. In addition, running kilometres of dedicated RS-485 cable to link an access control system is an expensive business. At the WACA much of the cabling would be traversing paved ground on the 55000 square metre site, as well as threading its way through heavily constructed stands. The huge challenges and expense of this option meant an access control solution able to leverage the existing IP network infrastructure was the logical way forward.Now, thanks to the Challenger IP LAN adaptor, installer Austech Surveillance has instead been able to install multiple door and alarm controllers across the site and link them over the ground’s existing network. It’s a solution that’s saving WACA management a significant amount of money while facilitating seamless management of the site through a single workstation running TITAN software. According to the WACA’s operations manager, Len Lemon, the upgraded access control solution has been in the pipeline for around 2 years and it has multiples roles at the ground. “The system is used to control access to the venue and the various buildings on the site,” says Lemon. “It also allows intruder protection and we can use the system to monitor the opening and closing of buildings and the venue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” According to Lemon, the installation of the system was handled by Austech Surveillance and Austech is responsible for the maintenance and general management of the system, with plans to bring this management inhouse in the future. “Austech did all the installation with our IT department being involved to a small extent with configuring the system interface between the Challenger solution and the WACA network,” Lemon says.According to Austech’s Kane Stevens, along with leveraging the existing network, the WACA’s main requirement was self management of the new UDP/IP-based Challenger system. “With approximately 65 full time staff, individual access restrictions are often changed for short periods while people are on leave,” he explains. “The TITAN software allows WACA management to quickly add or remove users as well as adjusting their individual access restrictions as required. “With the system integrated onto the WACA’s network using Challenger IP LAN adaptors and managed through a single interface, the WACA’s needs were easily achieved.”
Stevens says the installation at the WACA didn’t involve any special equipment or software. “It was very straightforward,” he explains. “A laptop was used to access the IP LAN adaptors via Ethernet for configuration purposes using the IP LAN device’s inbuilt web interface. “I oversaw the installation which was carried out by Austech technicians David Richards and Martin Frost. At the same time, Craig Romero and Aaron Cargill of DAS in Western Australia were a fantastic help in getting the initial stage of the IP integration off the ground, as was WACA IT manager, Colin James.” Stevens says the Challenger system installed at the WACA was used to replace multiple individual intruder detection systems on the site. “Prior to the advent of this IP LAN product, integrating all areas of the site into one system was simply not viable,” Stevens explains. “Now the site’s existing network infrastructure can be used, meaning it was a simple plug and play process for our installers.” According to Stevens, the layout of the system is straightforward. “The system comms comprises of various paths throughout the ground,” he says. “Cat-5 goes from the LAN Adaptors to the nearest network point where it links to the network.“The WACA IP LAN is carried via fibre in several areas with others areas operating on copper. In some areas, a variety of network switches sit in the path of the LAN which hasn’t proven to be an issue. “The main challenges faced at the site are its sheer size, and the difficulty involved in cabling to various areas,” Stevens explains. “Had it not be for use of the IP LAN, the disruption caused to all aspects of the WACA’s day-to-day operations to achieve a similar end result would have been significant.” According to Stevens, use of the IP LAN adaptor to integrate Challenger components also meant installation time was reduced. “The actual installation time on site was approximately 85 hours,” he says. “We had one tech on site for the duration of the project, with another tech and I intermittently involved as required.” As Stevens explains, because all equipment was installed internally, there was no need for ruggedizing of gear and environmental issues did not need to be taken into account. “Something else that’s important is the simplicity of working the Challenger IP LAN Adaptor into an access control application,” Stevens says. “As a result of this simplicity, most of the works were carried out by Austech technicians with a little assistance from the WACA’s IT department as required. “I have to highlight the support Austech received from Craig and Aaron at DAS, which was excellent as always,” Stevens explains. “They were available for onsite assistance if and when required with no fuss. Since the installation, I also received a follow up call from UTC/GE confirming the installation went to plan. Overall I’m extremely satisfied with the service and support we received.”
The key element of the access control system at the WACA is the new Challenger IP LAN Adaptor, which enables individual Challenger LAN devices or entire segments of the Challenger RS-485 LAN to be linked together over IP network, either to extend distance or eliminate the need for dedicated wiring of expensive cabling.Challenger peripherals such as remote arming stations (RAS) and data gathering panels (DGP) including Intelligent Access Controllers can now be connected to the Challenger system over IP networks. “Providing you have an existing IP connection, it’s perfect for connecting a panel to a remote RAS, DGP, or Door/Lift Controller where the cost of running cable would be too expensive,” says product manager, George Davies. “Importantly, all communications across IP are 128-bit AES encrypted and completely secure.”The way the integration works is that the TS0098 LAN Adaptor is configured as either a start of line module or an end of line module, with the SLM connecting at any point on the Challenger LAN while the ELM provides IP links to the any of the Challenger’s LAN devices. Typically, an SLM can handle 31 ELMs including 15 DGP’s and 16 remote arming stations, with all of these configurable over any IP network using a web browser. It’s just too easy. The other important element of the solution at the WACA is GE Titan software running on a dedicated workstation. Titan allows backup and archiving of facilities for database and history information, as well as giving the ability to handle and monitor alarms using a graphic site map. There’s also a live event log with 20 user-defined fields containing customisable information of all system users, and detailed report generation. Handy too, are user search facilities.
Satisfaction all around
Kane Stevens is delighted with the results Austech achieved for its client using Challenger, Titan software and the new Challenger IP LAN Adaptor. “Previously, each building within the complex required its own independent and separately-maintained security system, because running dedicated cable between the buildings was simply not viable here,” he says. “Now by utilising existing IT infrastructure we’ve been able to inexpensively and securely deploy a single unified Challenger system throughout the WACA’s entire complex.“Important for us as an integrator, the ease of installation and the reduction in installation time was dramatic,” he explains. “And the impact on the client’s network is not even noticeable. “I think it’s fair to say the operation to upgrade the access control system at the WACA has been completely seamless and the resulting solution is robust and reliable.”Stevens has nothing but praise for the Challenger IP LAN Adaptor.“The Challenger IP LAN adaptor is one of those increasingly rare breed of products that just works,” he says. “Very little configuration is required, and provided the supporting network infrastructure is configured correctly, the installation of the LAN adaptors is quite simply plug and play.”Most important, the customer is happy, too. “From an end user’s perspective the system accessibility of IP-based Challenger is a huge advantage to us, we can control all aspects of the system from an onsite PC,” Lemon says.And he rates the experience with the integration of the IP-enabled Challenger solution highly.“Austech Surveillance was extremely professional during the installation, all problems and queries were attended to promptly without any fuss, and all the work was performed to a high standard,” Lemon says.