Post Boston, regional events increase security

Maine police chief will use video to assess manpower for next year’s Beach to Beacon road race
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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine—Even regional running events have increased their security efforts after last April’s Boston Marathon bombing.

This past weekend, the Beach to Beacon 10K road race here had video surveillance for the first time, thanks to the efforts of a local integrator, Advance Technology, and donations from Axis Communications, Exacq Vision and Allied Telesis.

“We’ve done some large-scale projects with Cape Elizabeth [in the past],” said Jeff LaChance, Advance Technology account executive. “I like to run and … after the Boston bombing, security is a major concern. We wanted to help out.”

Founded by Olympic marathon winner Joan Benoit Samuelson 16 years ago, this 6.2-mile race takes place every August in her hometown. It draws more than 6,000 runners, who include international elite runners and thousands of recreational runners, to this seaside town of 9,000. The route, which is lined with hundreds of spectators, has few access points.

Axis Communications donated eight five-megapixel cameras, Exacq donated licenses and Allied Telesis provided switches to power the cameras.

The Advance Technology team had to figure out how to deal with spotty cell service in the area. The donated cameras used edge-storage capabilities using an SD card. The Advance Technology technicians and project manager John Johnson installed the system two days before the race and were on site at 5:30 a.m. on race day, Aug. 3, to ensure all went well.

Cameras were placed “primarily in places where there were a lot of people” along the route, said Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Neil Williams.

The race went off without incident, but the video will be useful, Williams said. “It will give me a firsthand look at the starting area … [because] I really can’t get up there. I usually have to rely on the race director and others to give me feedback on how things went [in certain locations.]”

“I’ll be looking at it, not for surveillance, but for traffic flow [of people and vehicles],” he explained.

Williams said that security was beefed up in other respects as well. There was increased police presence, mainly due to officers from neighboring towns who donated their time. This year, there was a police officer on duty at the top of the race’s “beacon,” the iconic Portland Head Light, reportedly the most photographed lighthouse in the world.

Also, for the first time, runners’ belongings were stored in clear plastic bags on shuttle buses.

Williams pointed out that while this is the first year video surveillance was used, security efforts are tweaked and refined every year.

“We enhance efforts, and it makes the race better every year.” Williams said. “It’s a great event due to the efforts of a lot of people.”