Case Study: Superdome Solution Centers on Safety

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The 13-acre Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest fixed-dome structure in the world. Attendance at major events can exceed 85,000, and when crowds fill the adjacent New Orleans Arena, the total turnout can top 100,000.

Challenge. The Superdome’s size makes managing events a massive logistical challenge. In a single afternoon, ticket takers, ushers, housekeepers and other event staff must quickly report and respond to hundreds of incidents ranging from minor spills to medical emergencies. Ensuring the safety, security and comfort of guests requires staffers to act immediately and communicate clearly. But the noise and commotion of a major event can make responding difficult.

Communication is essential for managing events in the Superdome, where a New Orleans Saints game can require SMG, the venue management firm that operates the Superdome complex, to bring more than 1,000 part-time team members on site. For years, event staff relied on a mix of two-way radios and cellular phones to call supervisors for assistance in cleaning up spills, crowd control issues and repairs.

“We recognized the need for a communication solution for our remote users," said Dave Stewart, CTO at SMG, which operates 220 other venues worldwide.

Solution. SMG deployed a real-time, wireless communication platform that integrates telephone functionality from Polycom with an incident tracking system from Intech Studios. The solution allows event staff to streamline communications throughout the Superdome, reduce incident response times, track incident status and simplify employee training.

After a major Wi-Fi network upgrade, SMG found a solution that gives staff the flexibility of both text and voice communication. “We saw a great opportunity to connect our staff using text- and voice-capable wireless phones," said Tim Suire, manager of event services for SMG.

Working with Intech Studios and Polycom, SMG deployed a Wi-Fi text-and-voice solution that allows 110 event staffers to report incidents by selecting from a simple, customizable menu of about 50 messages directly from their Polycom SpectraLink 8000 Series wireless telephones.

“The Polycom and Intech solution helps us provide a better and safer experience for every one of our guests. It’s an important part of our effort to ensure the Superdome remains one of the world’s premier event venues," Stewart said.

Workers use the messages to communicate the nature of the incident (wet or dry spill, outages, medical emergencies), their location and whether they need assistance. Command post personnel can respond via text, dispatch assistance and manage the incident until it is resolved. Though the majority of messages advise of spills, visual on-screen cues give special priority to urgent alerts.

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