Inside the Integration at Milwaukee's New Fiserv Forum Sports & Entertainment Complex

Inside the Integration at Milwaukee's New Fiserv Forum Sports & Entertainment Complex
Inside the Integration at Milwaukee's New Fiserv Forum Sports & Entertainment Complex

Since it’s opening in August of 2018, Fiserv Forum has quickly become home to many passionate Milwaukee Bucks basketball fans. Yet, aside from the on-court product, the new entertainment and sports center in downtown Milwaukee is an integrated facility, working to enhance fan experience, comfort and safety. I was able to tour the Fiserv Forum and I saw the fruits of the integration efforts. 

As the Official “Smart Building” Partner of Fiserv Forum, Johnson Controls had the opportunity to work alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and their partners with the intent to create a venue that has fans lining up to attend sporting events, concerts and more in an environment unlike any other.  The total integration of systems is designed to make for a safe, comfortable and immersive fan experience. Johnson Controls’ building, business and specialty systems is deployed on a unified, intelligent infrastructure including HVAC, building automation, security, lighting, fire protection and information technology. By simplifying and optimizing how the building functions, Johnson Controls enabled more control for the Bucks to operate the arena, at the same time still focusing on delivering a superior fan experience.

The Milwaukee Entertainment & Sports Center is the centerpiece of an ambitious development project spearheaded by Bucks ownership to transform 27-acres of mostly vacant property into a vibrant retail and entertainment district in the heart of downtown Milwaukee with the 714,000 square foot arena as a focal point that is home to Milwaukee Bucks basketball and countless sports and entertainment events. The arena was designed by Populous, Eppstein Uhen and HNTB, with Mortenson leading the construction of the project.

Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president noted, “Our ownership group committed to building an arena that is the gold standard for a sports and entertainment facility while also driving additional development and community growth throughout the region. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish those goals without the partnership and support of Johnson Controls. Together with our partners we built an incredible arena and an incredible future for our home city,” 

714,000 square foot arena as a focal point that is home to Milwaukee Bucks basketball and countless sports and entertainment events

This project was done in the spirit of Design Builds to deliver the greatest value and functionality to the owner.  Johnson Controls was engaged at the earliest stage of the process as technology contractor working closely with the Bucks organization, Mortenson Construction, ICON Venue Group, and numerous subcontractors to furnish, install and integrate state-of-the-art smart building solutions throughout the new facility. The team certainly achieved the goals of an immersive fan experience in an integrated facility that is comfortable and safe.

System Scope

Johnson Controls personnel described how the company took responsibility for the entire technology application engineering and integration process, which included design, implementation, commissioning and optimization.  This coordinated effort with the Milwaukee Bucks organization and other contractors worked to use project dollars more effectively, reduce risk, prioritize technology requirements now and in the future, and deliver an environment that augments the in-arena fan experience without sacrificing venue sustainability and operational excellence. 

The control center is the eyes and ears the keeps pulse on all operations including environmental, fire, and security. Video pattern recognizing software alerts operators automatically to suspicious activity from over 365 HD cameras. For example software recognizes suspicious activity such as someone setting down a bag and leaving it and alerts operators.

Included in the Johnson Control scope were:

Controls Technologies

  • Metasys Energy Management
  • SoftwareHouse Access Control
  • victor/VideoEdge Video Management
  • Simplex Fire Alarm System


Johnson Controls/YORK HVAC Equipment Deployed

  • Chillers
  • Air Handling Units
  • Variable Air Volume (VAV) Boxes
  • Exhaust Fans
  • Grills Registers Diffusers & Louvers
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)


Johnson Controls Building-wide Systems Integration

  • Cisco Converged Network
  • Structured Cabling Plant
  • Wi-Fi Infrastructure
  • VoIP Phone System
  • Broadcast Cabling Plant
  • Cable Tray System
  • Audio/Visual Systems
  • IPTV System
  • In-House Video Production Room
  • Distributed Antenna System



  • 580 Wi-Fi access points provide uncorrupted mobile coverage.
  • 20 Gb per second Internet speed
  • Projected 20% Operational Cost Savings
  • Reduced Power Consumption & Carbon Footprint
  • Over 365 HD Cameras
  • Over 840 HD TVs, Never Miss the Action
  • Network Capable of 72 TB of Data Each Game for Real-Time Content Sharing
  • Over 420 Access Control Doors


Highlights of Fiserv Forum

These innovative and integrated technologies provide a combination of safety, security, sustainability, and connectedness that maximizes both the fan experience and building performance for Fiserv Forum, creating a singular entertainment experience.

Cameras positioned throughout the space stream footage to the video production studio where it can be pushed out in real-time to the major networks and/or displayed with clarity throughout the venue and on the new center-hung, full HD scoreboard—one of the top scoreboards in size in the NBA. The scoreboard and ribbon board ride on the converged enterprise-grade network, along with speakers surrounding the scoreboard, suspended from the rafters inside the seating bowl, ensuring seamless content management and delivery.

Cisco Vision gives operators at Fiserv Forum the ability to customize the color scheme, content and branding of information that is displayed on 840+ hi-definition IPTVs throughout Fiserv Forum. The displays deliver live feeds, analytics, promotions, advertisements, entertainment and communications—extending the experience for fans and creating revenue-generating opportunities for event sponsors.

Johnson Controls’ building, business and vertical market systems are managed on a unified, intelligent infrastructure, including HVAC, building automation, security, lighting, fire protection and information technology. By simplifying and optimizing how the building functions, Johnson Controls enables more control for the Bucks to operate the arena, while at the same time delivering a superior fan experience.

Johnson Controls is also partnering with the team and the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation on additional initiatives aimed at building a safer, healthier and more vibrant community for Milwaukee residents, not just in and around the new arena, but throughout the city.

Johnson Controls Cyber Security Commitment

In its ongoing commitment to cybersecurity to ensure safe and reliable facilities Johnson Controls is a founding member of  International Society of Automation’s Global Cybersecurity Alliance (GCA). 

“Digital transformation continues to accelerate across the buildings sector which heightens the urgency for cybersecurity considerations to take a leading role in planning. As a leader in the industrial automation controls business, Johnson Controls is already a strategic member of the ISASecure program and takes proactive actions to protect customers against cyber-threats and decrease risk. Joining the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance is a natural extension of that commitment and supports our company’s values, customer adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standard and our efforts to educate global government and regulatory bodies.” - Jason Christman, vice president, chief product security officer, Global Products, Johnson Controls

ISA created the Global Cybersecurity Alliance to advance cybersecurity readiness and awareness in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. The Alliance brings end-user companies, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations together to proactively address growing threats.  ISA has been involved in cybersecurity since the 1990s developing the ANSI/ISA 62443 series of automation and control systems cybersecurity standards, which have been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission as IEC 62443 and endorsed by the United Nations. The standards define requirements and procedures for implementing electronically secure automation and industrial control systems and security practices and assessing electronic security performance. The standards approach the cybersecurity challenge in a holistic way, bridging the gap between operations and information technology.  Leveraging the ISA/IEC 62443 standards, the Global Cybersecurity Alliance increases awareness and expertise, openly share knowledge and information, and develop best practice tools to help companies navigate the entire lifecycle of cybersecurity protection. This includes working closely with government agencies, regulatory bodies, and stakeholder organizations around the world. 

"Accelerating and expanding globally relevant standards, certification, and education programs will increase workforce competence, and help end users identify gaps, reduce risks, and ensure they have the tools and systems they need to protect their facilities and installations. Through the proliferation of standards and compliance programs, we will strengthen our global cyber culture and transform the way industry identifies and manages cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to their operations."  - Mary Ramsey, ISA Director

The Alliance welcomes additional members to support this initiative. For more information about the Alliance, visit the website.

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About The Author

Bill Lydon brings more than 10 years of writing and editing expertise to, plus more than 25 years of experience designing and applying technology in the automation and controls industry. Lydon started his career as a designer of computer-based machine tool controls; in other positions, he applied programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and process control technology. In addition to working at various large companies (e.g., Sundstrand, Johnson Controls, and Wago), Lydon served a two-year stint as part of a five-person task group, where he designed controls, automation systems, and software for chiller and boiler plant optimization. He was also a product manager for a multimillion-dollar controls and automation product line and president of an industrial control software company.

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