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Case Study: Superdome Solution Centers on Safety

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 Superdomes 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. Its an important part of our effort to ensure the Superdome remains one of the worlds 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.

Operating on a converged voice and data Wi-Fi infrastructure, SpectraLink 8000 Series handsets provide the ideal platform for the EventTraxx system, which Intech initially developed for the Superdome. SpectraLink wireless telephones are integrated easily integrated existing systems and they provide the durability and reliability SMG needs to optimize the efficiency, safety and security of Superdome events.

The SpectraLink 8000 Series handsets also free team members to communicate by voice with supervisors or other staff. Because the wireless phones are tied to the Superdomes PBX system, workers make and receive calls at any time.

Results. With the Superdome welcoming so many guests (the Saints alone drew more than half a million fans in 2009), the solution helps SMG take some important precautions. Managers can keep a record of every incident complete with date and time stamps and sequence of communications, along with notations and the names of all parties who responded a key advantage when an incident results in legal action.

With the Superdome welcoming so many guests (the Saints alone drew more than half a million fans in 2009), the solution helps SMG take some important precautions. Managers can keep a record of every incident complete with date and time stamps and sequence of communications, along with notations and the names of all parties who responded a key advantage when an incident results in legal action.

The Polycom and Intech solution helps us provide a better and safer experience for every one of our guests,” said Stewart. Its an important part of our effort to ensure the Superdome remains one of the worlds premier event venues.”

The Polycom phones and EventTraxx system are very easy to use; thats crucial because it requires minimal training for our part-time staff,” said Suire, who said the system and devices provide many benefits to event operations. With Polycom and EventTraxx, you can use the device to resolve the incident without ever talking to an operator.”

But whenever necessary, a Superdome team member can use his or her Polycom unit to speed-dial the command post or make a traditional phone call to an in-house extension. Polycom phones are durable and they need to be, because theyre in use for hours at a time,” said Suire. These communication devices are essential to our operations.”

For SMG and the Superdome, the combination of Polycom and Intech delivers in other ways. Polycom and Intech create solutions that help us run our business,” Stewart said. They dont just sell us products. They partner with us.”

Future plans call for performance improvements. Combining Polycom and EventTraxx allows us to get real statistics about our usage,” said Suire. Weve established a baseline we can use to measure our response times, enhance our productivity and, ultimately, expedite incidents faster.”


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