Historic Yale Bowl surveillance goes high tech

December 11, 2019

Built in 1914, the Bowl spans 12.5 acres and has had only a few structural alterations, with the last in 2006. That all changed recently with a major fiber optics upgrade at the site. Over the summer, new state-of-the-art cameras were installed and paired with ground-based radar technology.

This technology is used to remotely survey the perimeter, interior, and other critical areas of the Bowl. The cameras can rotate 360-degrees, and when movement is detected, it automatically follows the target. These cameras are on 24/7/365 and monitored from the Yale Central Alarm Station and the Yale Police Dispatch Center. “We have programmed the cameras to pick up vehicles and humans; it will ignore moving trees and animals,” said Michael Cruz, physical security systems manager, Yale Public Safety.

Extensive testing has taken place, including testing in the dark. “This is a historic building, so we wanted to have the right equipment before we started installing it on a 100-year old structure,” said Dave Nevins, Associate Director, Public Safety Project Management. Until recently, this type of radar-surveillance technology was used mostly by the military and governments. Now, it is finding its way into other uses like at airports, powerplants, data centers, and even large farms.

There are many advantages of this technology; it runs in all weather and lighting conditions and only requires 3.5 watts of power. Yale Security and Police dispatchers can zoom out to see an aerial view of the entire property at any given moment. “It is a unique product because of that low-power usage. Some lightbulbs require more wattage than that,” said Dave Nevins. It also uses an infrared system, so it can pick up movement at night.

Yale Public Safety is considering installing this type of equipment in all of Yale’s athletics fields and buildings. In addition to the athletics fields, there may be an opportunity to place these cameras near the canal trail that runs through central campus. This new radar technology, with updated cameras, was also installed at the Yale Field, the baseball stadium across the street from the Bowl. “I always doubt that these technologies will work as well as they do during a demo. To be honest, this system has exceeded my expectations,” said Dave Nevins.

Thanks to all individuals in Yale Public Safety who helped find, install, and now monitor this system that helps Public Safety patrol remote areas on campus in a cost-effective manner.