On Sept. 1, the University of Southern Mississippi's National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sport Security Research, Training and Operations Center at the National Sport Security Laboratory (NSSL). The new center helps bring to life NCS4's vision of being the world's leading academic research institution in addressing sports safety and security risks and threats.

The NSSL derives its unique position through its connectivity to each of the university's three main sports facilities. M.M. Roberts Stadium (football), Reed Green Coliseum (basketball) and Pete Taylor Baseball Park serve as technology, training and exercising extensions of the lab. This connectivity provides researchers and solution-providers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a real-life sports environment. The university applies sport safety and security best practices in an environment designed to integrate people, processes and technology.

The addition of the Sport Security Research, Training and Operations Center gives NCS4 the ability to achieve its mission to conduct innovative research, provide training, enhance professional development and assess security solutions. 

"We have an opportunity to groom our sport security thought-leaders of tomorrow," said Dr. Lou Marciani, director of NCS4. "Connecting our athletics facilities as part of our laboratory provides amazing opportunities for our students. They will be able to work with professional, intercollegiate, interscholastic and marathon sports organizations and facilities to test theories, translate lessons learned and best practices into real-world solutions, and build the sports safety and security profession for the future." Here's a look at some of the functions of the NSSL:
 

 

Training center
The NSSL is outfitted to support professional development and training opportunities. Students, practitioners and organizations are welcome to attend customized training and exercises in an environment designed to emulate a sporting and special event operations center. Through the NSSL-connected venues, training can be extended to sports facilities and surrounding areas. Participants can receive technology-specific training or participate in a customized scenario designed to build or enhance multi-agency collaboration, event management and incident-management capabilities.
 

Operations
The lab houses an operational coordination center, fully equipped to manage event and incident operations. NCS4 provides operational support to the University of Southern Mississippi and real-world training and education opportunities for students and practitioners.
 

Research
The NSSL connects safety and security experts with manufacturers and solution-providers in an effort to develop capabilities, validate effectiveness, and identify the value technology brings to sports and special event safety and security programs.
 

Research and development
Technologies, services and solutions can be researched, developed and then evaluated by the NSSL. Alternatively, the NSSL can work with manufacturers and solution-providers to identify gaps, best practices, product recommendations, and integration requirements. Through research, the NSSL works with the sports safety and security community and manufacturers to develop processes, policies and technologies designed to reduce vulnerabilities at sporting and special events.
 

Product reviews
Beta, emerging and established technologies are regularly reviewed by industry and technical experts to examine the applicability of solutions, as well as provide feedback to solution-providers to assist them in determining or enhancing product value to sporting and special event safety and security.
 

Product evaluations
NSSL personnel and industry experts can assist manufacturers and solution-providers in defining evaluation criteria for solutions designed for sporting and special event safety and security. Solutions are then field-tested in a real-world environment by end-users and technical experts. Products and services are evaluated based on stated capabilities and their effectiveness in addressing industry needs. An evaluation report is distributed to sports safety and security practitioners and leagues. The NSSL maintains an updated evaluated product list.
 

There's no greater educator than experience. With its location on a campus featuring diverse but familiar types of spectator venues, the Sport Security Research, Training and Operations Center is uniquely positioned to provide future safety and security professionals a place to learn their craft and advance the industry.

 


This article originally appeared in the November|December 2017 issue of Athletic Business with the title "NCS4's lab offers students real-world experience." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.