02 Arena is centre stage project for Johnson Controls

London, UK

Intially the agreement was to provide and manage the installation of fire and security systems at the Arena, but it was subsequently extended to cover other projects resulting in a total contract value worth around £7 million. Image supplied by Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls have provided a reliable and discreet solution to the O2 Arena by installing innovative technology, allowing visitors to have a safe and secure experience at the venue.

Situated on London’s Greenwich Peninsula, The O2 is London’s state of-the-art music and entertainment destination. The venue can hold up to 23,000 people and is surrounded by an Entertainment Avenue which boasts a myriad of leisure attractions that include an 11-screen cinema, exhibition spaces, an additional music venue, restaurants, bars and cafes.

The O2 is the first destination of its kind in the UK and is equivalent in size to 12 football pitches. In a space so vast, with the potential to be densely occupied, first-class security and fire protection is vital.

“Johnson Controls has played an important role in delivering a safety and security solution that plays a vital role in enhancing The O2 customer experience.” David Campbell, President and CEO of AEG Europe.

Continuous surveillance

The security solutions needed to be discreet but effective, as those managing security at the O2 needed to have continuous surveillance of the arena and its visitors. It was important to ensure that those experiencing the venue could do so in a safe, secure and enjoyable manner.

The fire detection systems also needed to operate in a unique environment, particularly in the concert arena that houses a sound system that pumps out 650,000 watts. Additionally, the shows that take place at the arena often use increasingly advanced pyrotechnic, light and atmospheric displays.

Comprehensive and detailed requirements

Johnson Controls delivered security solutions that have met all of the O2’s requirements. CCTV cameras have been installed in all areas of Peninsula Square that feed into the O2 Operations room, enabling operators to view all areas of the entertainment avenue from the entrance of Peninsula Square to the inside of the arena bowl.

Discreetly placed, the cameras monitor the site for any unusual behaviour and also provide valuable data for evacuations. The CCTV system is supported by access control doors where necessary.

Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) was installed in the arena and concourses. This system is supported by call points and detection around the O2 as well as voice-activated alerts. These alerts are connected to the extensive sound system that informs visitors of what they need to do in the event of a fire. The system has also been designed so that the voice-activated alerts can operate independently of each other, evacuating areas, if necessary, in an orderly and controlled way.

Multi-million pound project

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and its sub-contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, set an ambitious target of less than three years to complete what has been the UK’s largest development project in recent years. One of the biggest successes with this project, according to the company, has been delivering high-quality technology within this tight timeframe, achieving the completion date and Johnson Controls managing deadlines scrupulously.

As one of the contractors working on this project, Johnson Controls coordinated a team of 80 subcontractors (totalling more than 2,000 workers) along with Johnson Controls staff, working to install more than 5,000 pieces of equipment. Since January 2006, the company has invested more than 44,000 days of manpower in the site.

Initially, the commission was to provide and manage the installation of fire and electronic security systems solely for the arena. However, proven ability to work to a tight schedule and manage a contractor base effectively secured further projects in the entertainment avenue and waterfront area, bringing the total contract value to more than £7 million.


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