When the NBA needed to develop a new system to monitor court and bowl conditions, they turned to longtime partners Henderson Building Solutions and Henderson Engineers, as the sister companies have been involved in multiple NBA arena updates and renovations. Henderson was charged with designing a solution that would help the league predict and prevent temperature, humidity, and dew point issues at arenas before they happened. This undertaking was critical as unfavorable combinations of temperature and humidity can result in condensation on the court and lead to game cancellations or player injuries.
In collaboration with the NBA and Elite Automation, Henderson developed VESS (Venue Environmental Support System), a first-of-its-kind building monitoring system that uses infrared technology to track court surface temperatures and wireless sensors on each stanchion to track interior temperatures and humidity. Both the league and arena operators can access the data in real time via a proprietary online dashboard that was developed and is accessible on desktop and mobile devices. VESS also sends automatic text and email alerts when conditions fall below league standards, providing advance notice of potential issues before game play.
VESS was beta tested at the 2018 NBA Finals in Cleveland. Proof-of-concept tests were conducted shortly after during the 2018-19 season at both Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Following these successful trial runs, Henderson installed and implemented the VESS monitoring system into 29 NBA venues for the 2020-21 season and beyond.
Since VESS is positioned exactly the same across all locations, the NBA has accurate measurements without relying on each venue to independently track and report back on court conditions. The league uses the information collected to calculate the probability of future complications to preemptively notify arenas and other necessary parties. Arenas also use the information to proactively identify infrastructure issues in mechanical systems that require repair.
VESS earned the Commissioner’s Award for Innovation courtesy of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. It has been so impactful that Henderson was asked to help develop a compact travel version to allow the NBA to monitor court conditions and gather the same data as the permanently installed equipment from any location during any domestic or international game.
The travel-ready VESS debuted during the 2019-20 NBA Bubble, an entire modified season that was played in isolation at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also utilized during the Toronto Raptors’ 2020-21 interim season at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, the 2021 Summer League in Las Vegas, and in the Basketball Africa League. In the future, the NBA will use the portable system for marquee events including Global Games.
Building Monitoring & Controls Systems