Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GIS Software for Super Bowl XLIII

ESRI's Jesse Theodore describes the role geographic information systems (GIS) played in managing security at the USA's biggest and most famous American football game.

One of the world's biggest football games — attended by tens of thousands of fans and watched by millions around the globe — involves much more than three-plus hours of competition.

For two weeks before the Super Bowl, the host city becomes a sports mecca. Dozens of pregame events occur in multiple locations, including TV shows, media events, National Football League (NFL)-hosted activities, fan celebrations, and parties. With all these high-profile gatherings under way, the community can become a target for all kinds of disruptive and destructive activities. Multiple law enforcement organizations and other government agencies must plan far in advance to provide the security that makes such a major sporting event a safe and enjoyable experience for fans.

To prepare for last February's Super Bowl, the City of Tampa, Florida, including the city's police department, spent years laying the groundwork for a security information system that would give officials up-to-the-minute situational awareness.
Geographic information system (GIS) software —specifically, ArcGIS from ESRI—played a winning role in that system.

The software was fully integrated with ESRI business partner Digital Sandbox, Inc.'s Risk Analysis Center (RAC) software, a primary security information system that linked the Emergency Command Center and more than 10 command posts located throughout Tampa with real-time data and analysis about security threats.

The two systems worked seamlessly to supply the Tampa Unified Incident Command staff, manned primarily by Tampa police, with a map-based common operating picture (COP) and enhanced situational awareness for monitoring events on the ground as they happened. What once involved many systems working independently became a seamless platform of intelligence and analytic tools.

"The ability to integrate GIS with our risk management solution supplied a unique situational awareness capability," said Anthony F. Beverina, president and cofounder, Digital Sandbox. "Instead of pockets of knowledge or separate information flows, there was one complete framework benefiting the many different agencies managing security. The speed of information capture and exchange was many times faster than what was previously available."


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