When VenuesWest, Perth Western Australia’s leading provider of sporting and entertainment venues saw a need to increase safety and security across their venues and increase engagement with their attendees they turned to Satalyst a Perth based solutions provider in partnership with Microsoft to provide a plan leveraging edge based machine learning to execute on this strategy.

Building a solution on Azure Stack Edge, utilising Azure DevOps and an iterative approach to the project, VenuesWest was able to go from ideation to proof of concept to production in a space of 6 weeks, while delivering a set of key deliverables that will form the foundation for future phases of work.

“We were looking for a way to increase security and safety at our venues as part of a broader smart stadium strategy. Azure Stack Edge was the perfect choice for us as the technology enabled the now with significant future potential”
CIO, VenuesWest – Richard Bean

VenuesWest has 13 state owned properties in its portfolio with several different management structures. These different structures influenced the approach to this smart stadium pilot as the solution ultimately needed to be frictionless to implement and either be managed on behalf of a venue or be easy to hand over to their in-house IT. VenuesWest wanted an approach that ensured each venue was able to operate consistently and efficiently.

VenuesWest is a strong proponent of cloud technology and always strives to continuously innovate and stay at the forefront of technology, however like most government departments there is an ever present struggle to gain budget efficiencies and use technology where possible to drive savings.

Innovation through Security and Safety

The team at VenuesWest, Satalyst and Microsoft kicked off ideation, looking for the ideal set of use cases to address their business problems while also proving that machine learning at the edge was a viable technology. It was important that any direction also allowed for growth into areas of stronger patron engagement while driving core increases in security and safety. The goal was to build a strong foundational architecture that would enable the department to rapidly deploy solutions as the need arose.

“Satalyst was the right partner to take us on this journey as we needed tight collaboration with Microsoft and the agility to test ideas quickly and efficiently, all which Satalyst brought to the table”
CIO, VenuesWest – Richard Bean

After analysing available data and taking into account the ultimate goals of the department, Satalyst started looking at a simple use case that addressed the problem of counting the number of people being hand wanded by security guards, the proof of concept was born.

During this proof of concept an interesting by-product of the process was discovered. To properly count those being hand wanded the model had been trained in what the correct procedure was for hand wanding was so that it could identify it. During testing the model started flagging incorrect wanding methods as well as counting those that were processed with wide variances being observed between gates and individuals doing the wanding. This was originally thought to be an error in the data but when the video was viewed it was showing that certain security guards were wanding incorrectly and therefore that attendee was for all intents and purposes by-passing the system. What started out as a purely counting and categorising exercise turned into a training opportunity and the next phase of the model pivoted to not only counting but also to flagging detections in real time so that any incorrect procedures and frequency of wanding could be rectified on the spot to ensure the maximum amount of people were correctly scanned. This change was made live during use of a test gate and as such the system had returned a positive return of investment by increasing safety immediately and prior to a full production roll out.

Success builds confidence

The rapid success of the proof of concept phase convinced VenuesWest that while deploying into production they should also develop a second model which following on from the theme of the first and leveraging the same deployment and management methodology, the bag check business case was chosen. The model allowed the real time detection of whether a person’s bag had been checked or not as they entered the through the gates. This was built around real-time detection and allowed in situ training of security guards and correction of behaviour to take place during an event.

Going into production just as COVID-19 restrictions started taking place meant that the full benefits are yet to be realised for the new model, but this has not stopped the department planning for what is to come.

Looking ahead

As the department prepares for a post COVID-19 world, planning is underway on how to best leverage the success of this project and continue to evolve and develop solutions that meet an ever-changing world. The priority for the next phase of development is in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic with VenuesWest looking to assist in the re-opening of certain venues when the time is right by adding a model that measures body temperature and installing thermal imaging cameras into these first venues. The approach taken in development makes this undertaking a simple process that will require very little adjustment to the architecture.

This highlights the value the choice of technology has given VenuesWest as historically iterating on a problem like this would take significant effort and cost. “We are in unprecedented times and it is exciting to work with VenuesWest to build on the tremendous success of this project to solve new and emerging business problems”

CEO, Satalyst – Todd Elliott.