Case Studies

Security for Pope Francis’ visit

by Mark Rowe

On his two-day visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August, Pope Francis’s schedule was covered by cameras from the UK company, 360 Vision Technology.

County Kildare-based Mongey Communications was chosen to provide the extra security and surveillance equipment necessary to secure the Pope’s visit to Dublin. With the crowds of hundreds of thousands expected to see the pontiff, the temporary installation needed to be minimally disruptive and use mobile radio to provide multi-scene coverage.

To support an existing small-scale CCTV installation at the Pope’s final venue of Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed city park in Europe, there was a need for further camera coverage along the park’s approach routes, entrance and exit gates, search areas and general areas of crowd movement and congregation. A similar solution was also required for the Pope’s visit to the Knock Shrine pilgrimage site, and the Capuchin Day Centre, where public space CCTV was again already in place but again further coverage was called for.

Full integration with the CCTV at the 82,300 capacity Croke Park stadium for a papal address to the Festival of Families was also required, with communications and CCTV feeds from all locations required to be sent back to local on-site control rooms at each location, and besides to a central Command and Control room at Dublin Castle. At that main Command and Control Centre, the camera images were to be used for co-ordination and management by multiple agencies, including the Office of Public works (OPW), An Garda Síochána (Irish police), Defence Forces Ireland, Dublin Fire Brigade, ambulance services and Civil Defence.

Kevin McGrath of Mongey Communications recalls: “With 300,000 people expected to attend a papal mass at Phoenix Park to close the World Meeting of Families, we were briefed to provide the very best possible reliability and imaging performance from the additional cameras we employed. With this in mind, we needed to be confident of camera reliability straight out of the box, along with simple and fast set-up, and quality high-definition video for forward transmission to the various control rooms.

“Our very positive experience of employing 360 Vision Technology cameras on many high-security installations in the past led us to be confident about the image and build quality of the manufacturer’s cameras, and product support. So to fulfil the challenges we faced for this high-profile project, we specified the latest version of 360 Vision’s Predator camera, and also their new cost-effective and ruggedised Invictus Hybrid HD PTZ camera.”

The new 360 Vision Invictus cameras specified for the project employ the latest compact camera modules with a choice of 20:1 or 30:1 zoom and come with 1/2.8-inch Sony StarVis or 1/1.9-inch Sony Exmor (Ultra) sensor packages. Invictus cameras come with Hybrid functionality, analogue and IP, enabling installation in analogue systems and in full 1080P HD IP video streaming networks. The Invictus range offers ONVIF 2.4 Profile S compatibility.

360 Vision says the new Invictus range design draws on features usually associated with very high-end cameras. They’re made from high grade, hardened aluminium and stainless steel. An upright camera mount design allows 360-degree continuous pan and unobstructed field of view, plus the ability to tilt above the horizon – enabling operators to view targets above camera installation height (for instance, up hills) – an asset where cameras were being installed in the difficult installation and operational conditions of Phoenix Park.

Kevin says: “Our decision to once again entrust the provision of the best technology available for the project to 360 Vision Technology was proven correct, and we had no issues of consequence with the installation, commissioning and performance of all the cameras – straight out of the box. Because of the condensed set-up period available and challenging terrain of some of the installation areas, we had to act fast to ensure the successful inclusion and full control of the cameras for the multi-agency command and control room. Here our technical relationship with 360 Vision Technology really paid dividends throughout this time-critical project, affording easy integration of all the additional cameras into the control room’s Cathexis VMS.

In all, over 60 cameras from 360 Vision were employed over the various sites for the Pope’s visit. With extensive digging and cabling not a practical option, images from the cameras were relayed back to the various event control centres via microwave transmission links, powered by temporary generators and back-up batteries.

Kevin says: “The new Invictus cameras were perfect for the role thanks to their low power consumption compared to other similar specification PTZ cameras. Low power consumption really helps when adding multiple cameras to a network with a temporary power system – and meant we could add more cameras for the benefit of maximum scene coverage.”

High-speed fibre-optic connectivity between the various remote sites and Dublin Castle was installed, with video walls at the various control rooms. Kevin says: “The Pope’s visit was a great success with no security issues reported. Images relayed to the control room from the additional 360 Vision Technology cameras were vital in the smooth running of the visit and allowed all of the state agencies involved to keep a constant update on the movements of the vast crowds drawn over the pontiff’s two-day visit.

“Our long-term technical partnership with 360 Vision Technology and our direct input in to the development of their new products really pays off with high-profile projects like this. We have many new and exciting installation challenges on the horizon and I’m confident that 360 Vision Technology camera products will continue to be an integral part of those future projects.”


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