The biggest sporting event of the year is now over— and the Patriots, with the help of NFL super duo Tom Brady (the oldest quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl) and Bill Belichick (the oldest head coach to ever win the Super Bowl) took the title—New England’s sixth since 2002.
Over 100 million people watched the game from home and over 70,000 watched it from inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. However, what many fans may not have realized is that while they were watching the game from the stands, they themselves were being watched.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security worked alongside approximately 600 other employees, and used a host of technology provided by the city of Atlanta and the federal government, to help keep the stadium safe. Atlanta Police Chief, Erika Shields, stated, “In addition to what the human talent affords us, we also are relying heavily on technology.” Some of the technology included advanced cargo and vehicle screening technology, magnetometer screening trainers (which use an electromagnetic field to detect metal objects, such as concealed handguns), low flying helicopters equipped with radiation sensing technology, and Bio Watch Screening (which is a system of sensors used to detect pathogens that are intentionally released into the air).
Echodyne, a start-up company based out of Washington state that builds technology for security and critical infrastructure for smart cities, obtained approval through the FCC to test their new anti-drone technology at the Super Bowl. They piloted two anti-drone radars near the stadium which would “alert security personnel of any unidentified drone activity.” Under the direct supervision of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these drones could detect and follow unidentified drones (which were banned in the area pursuant to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Super Bowl ‘no fly zone’) up to 0.6 miles away. This technology costs around $150,000, which is far less expensive than their military counterpart. If this technology works as anticipated, it could help with many of the issues surrounding drone safety in public spaces.
Thankfully, there were no security issues that became publicly known, suggesting that the massive amount of security and technological advancements helped protect the thousands of fans and workers in attendance.
This article authored by guest blogger Erik Mastriano a student at Roger Williams University School of Law.