Super Bowl XLIX Does Not Have to be a Super Security Headache

Elaborate security measures are underway at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, where the Seattle Seahawks will defend their title against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

Running security for such a major, high-profile event can be a nightmare for brands, property owners, local government, and site attendants—but it doesn’t have to be.

With proper planning and appropriate equipment in place, even the biggest, most taxing events can be overseen with few headaches, low expenditures, and maximum protection against costly security gaffes. The U.S. Department of Justice developed guidelines for law enforcement to follow during major events that advise the following:

  • Plan for worst-case scenarios but don’t forget ordinary crimes that often occur at big gatherings, such as fights and theft.
  • Weigh security measures against their impact on attendees. Area closures, searches, and visible security may make an event safer, but will have a negative effect on enjoyability, attendance and profit.
  • Establish effective temporary arrangements for communication and management between involved organizations and groups.

Using a combination of existing security measures, supplemental equipment for additional coverage, and clear communication protocols is key to running a successful, smooth, and safe major event.

Use surveillance to multiply manpower

On an ordinary day, the University of Phoenix Stadium accommodates 63,000 fans. With as many as 73,000 Seahawks and Patriots fans cheering on their teams, additional coverage will be needed.

An expanded but temporary layer of security can be created with a system of cameras perched on towers and trailers, connected by a wireless mesh network that can be removed once the event is over. This technique was used the last time the University of Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl in 2008 (the Patriots were also a contender then—they lost to the Giants).

To monitor large areas—like a parking lot, for example—it is best to use high-resolution cameras because their greater pixel densities can provide the desired level of detail. There are also cameras with object detection that can be used to determine the presence of an item that was not there before. This is particularly useful for events that may be a high bomb risk.

Situational assessment is critical when deploying security solutions. Typically, venues will want a mix of visible as well as hidden cameras. However, while covert cameras catch perpetrators in the act, they require a cabling infrastructure that will be hard to conceal if the hidden devices are not going to be permanent.

It makes more sense to invest more in visible cameras for just one night since they will record illegal activity as well as prevent issues from happening in the first place.

Identify trouble spots and neutralize them

Stadium entrances need to be monitored

At high-profile, large events, security risks lie in difficult-to-reach locations, dense crowds, and distractions. Law enforcement and licensed security personnel will maintain a strong presence in high-risk zones to prevent dangerous activity.

Since hidden cameras may not play a strong role, undercover police officers will be roaming the stadium looking for potentially perilous situations. A few key trouble spots to keep an eye on are:

  • Entrances and exits
  • Concession areas
  • Stairwells
  • Parking lots

Obviously, having cameras on a few towers is not going to provide total coverage. The number of cameras depends on the level of detail required and the size of the area being monitored. Pixel-per-foot density measures how wide personnel can set a camera’s viewing angle to the farthest desired focal point for the level of detail needed.

More detail requires more pixels. For example, in order to decipher facial features from video footage, you would need 100 pixels per foot density. This number is then multiplied by the width of the area in question to get the horizontal pixels. From here, work backwards to determine the number of cameras needed by dividing by a camera’s resolution.

Secure associated venues

While the stadium is the focal point of this weekend’s festivities, associated venues must be protected. For Super Bowl XLII (2008), Phoenix supplemented the stadium’s security system with 42 additional cameras to cover the NFL headquarters and media center downtown.

Let Deflategate be the major controversy on Super Bowl Sunday by preparing for possible threats—you don’t want to only discover trouble spots after a problem arises. Make the big security plays ahead of time.