Rogers centre strikes strategic play
By Jennifer Brown
On the day the Blue Jays are in town or a band is set to take to the stage at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, fans generally flow into the downtown facility with one goal in mind — getting to their seat to have a good time. For vice-president of stadium operations and security Mario Coutinho, the goal is to make sure visitors enjoy themselves safely. What he doesn’t want is anyone to wander into spaces where they aren’t welcome.
By Jennifer Brown
Coutinho needs to be acutely aware of the comings and goings of
visitors. He is responsible for knowing who is gaining access to what
throughout the facility, whether it’s the team clubhouse or the IT
server room — just a few of the more high secure areas he has to worry
about in the building that spans five hectares.
From the beginning of an event until the last person leaves, Coutinho
and his staff are focused on whether secure areas are being breached by
the wrong people.
“I don’t leave the building until most of the players are out and I
make a final walk through,” says Coutinho.
And because the Rogers Centre isn’t a typical 9 to 5 operation, it has
unique demands for a card access system.
“In this day and age granting access to anyone in the building is a big
deal for us and we need a flexible access control system that can meet
all of our needs,” says Coutinho.
Two years ago, the Rogers Centre decided it was time to upgrade its
access control system to keep up with the demands of the clients using
the facility, such as Major League baseball teams.
“Since 1989 when we moved in here there has been some form of access
control from the old swipe card system to proximity systems over the
last few years.
“Every event is unique to us and every day means there is a different
approach in place, so we needed a system that was robust and flexible.
It affords us the opportunity to continue to enhance our security
features while developing new ways to control our buildings and our
user groups,” says Coutinho.
Working with their integrator, Reilly’s Security, which also provides
security manpower to the Rogers Centre, Coutinho chose to upgrade to
Keyscan’s System VII, which allows users to log on via a web browser
and survey the access control system remotely, if needed.
Keyscan met with Reilly’s and Rogers Centre and they decided what would
“Reilly’s gave us some options but given the facts we knew we chose
Keyscan. What we were really concerned about was customer support after
the installation,” says Coutinho. “I had talked to other businesses in
the GTA who were having issues with their access control providers due
to lack of support after installation.”
Coutinho said he was impressed by the security level of the cards and
reporting features, as well as the ease of adding cards or readers into
the system, the ease of training staff and the staff’s comfort level
with the product.
He particularly likes the product’s Present 3 feature which allows a
qualified cardholder to unlock any door by presenting the card three
times, essentially over-riding any pre-programmed zones.
He was also looking for a certain level of automation and reporting of
which doors were being accessed when and by whom. During an event,
Coutinho can see who has been granted or denied access to a door and if
he is conducting an investigation on a person or particular location he
can be notified by email if someone is making an attempt to gain access
to that area.
There is also the matter of incorporating the Jays’ Florida spring
training site, which is also undergoing a card access upgrade. The
changes will allow the same card issued for an individual in Toronto
for the Rogers Centre to work at the training camp facility.
Additionally, as the 160 suites at the Rogers Centre are renovated the
card access system will be added to those rooms as well.
Coutinho also likes the fact he can generate reports that are useful
for internal audit purposes required by Rogers Centre management. For
example, the director of IT can be sent reports on who is accessing the
server room and at what times. The database is locked so if anyone
tries to manipulate the information a record is created of that
activity, which means it’s an efficient product for evidence.
“Like any other company these days, having controls is essential and
having the ability to run reports to verify controls and your users is
an essential part of our day-to-day activity. We can track an
individual or door or a card reader or groups of individuals who access
certain areas,” he says.
There are currently about 90 active doors on the system with capacity
for expansion to 110, but the system is scalable to thousands of doors.
“We are also integrating it into our CCTV system to give us that extra
level of comfort,” adds Coutinho. “We finished card access control
which was the first priority, and then fire and building systems will
be integrated down the road and then CCTV as well and hopefully the
majority will be IP cameras. There will still be some analogue cameras
in place, but the majority will be IP.”
Even though the Rogers Centre has decided to go with a competitor for
its DVRs, Scott notes that Keyscan’s product will integrate because it
is not proprietary and doesn’t limit the system.
Keyscan has worked with Rogers Centre since the late 80s, tweaking its
product along the way to suit the Centre’s needs.
“It has provided some challenges because, unlike most facilities that
are trying to secure a building more as the day gets longer, here the
desire is to open it up more,” says Dave Scott, Ontario Regional Sales
Manager for Whitby, Ont.-based Keyscan.
“We sat down with Mario and his
team and went over the unique challenges and addressed the product to
meet their needs.”
Keyscan doesn’t sell to the end user directly, but Scott says the
company has developed an active role in supporting the Rogers Centre to
adapt the product to their changing needs and maximize their
“Depending on the application we generally design the code, write the
programming and build the controllers so it puts us in control of all
aspects of our product,” says Scott. “A lot of our competitors do one
or the other, but not both. This allows us to deliver a modification
and test it thoroughly, document it, modify it if necessary and then
“We’re very conscious of the fact it’s a large facility; there’s a lot
going on and access control is probably 10 to 15 per cent of your day
at best and we would really like it to be five per cent of your day.”
The end user owns the software and can make changes so that it fits
their needs, says Scott.
“So if you’re doing an investigation in one
area and it’s completed you can change the program and cater it to
observe parameters for a new investigation in another area or to drop
The system also allows cards to be programs for access to begin and end
at a specified time.
“You can have multiple access levels based on your credential or length
of hire. If you’re a student we can give you a card that would start
working in June and it will cease to work after Labour Day, so there’s
no need for a manager to remember to go into the profile and archive
all the summer student cards,” says Scott. “Or if a contractor is
working in a facility for three days the card will work for those three
days and then expire, so they don’t have to police the system. You can
also have new hires allowed in only from 9 to 5 p.m., but a regular
employee can come in 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or to midnight. The flexibility
Coutinho says he is gradually introducing additional features of System
VII to his department.
“We’re migrating to a lot of these features in stages. Email
notification has been used more in the last few months by our team
leaders in the more secure areas the BlackBerry. We’ll slowly expand
once we master them rather than overwhelming our staff with all these
features and reports,” says Coutinho.