Detecting Super Bowl threats like finding needle in haystack

WASHINGTON – The stakes are higher at the Super Bowl than most other American experiences – on the field, during halftime, for advertising attention, and perhaps most importantly, in the fight against terrorism.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, every Super Bowl has been designated a Level 1 national security event. With the game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., scant miles from New York City, security officials are trying to reduce any possible risk.

With information coming from security camera feeds, radiological monitors, GPS, radio-frequency identification and social media, the flood of data will be overwhelming.

Security officials will have a powerful tool to help them plot, analyze, and prioritize potential threats, using McLean, Va.-based Haystax’s cloud-based security software, writes Daniel Terdiman, senior writer at CNET.

“The software is designed to sift through and find cases where something unusual needs to be brought to their attention,” says Terdiman.

Terdiman says in addition to monitors and cameras on roadways, in mass transit hubs, and near bridges and tunnels, humans will be feeding information into the Haystax system.

“Personnel who are going to be deployed around the stadium and around the region who will have mobile devices will be able to send in reports if they see something suspicious,” says Terdiman.

Anthony Beverina, the company’s president of public safety, says Haystax’s technology is built around patented risk-management algorithms “that allow us to fuse a lot of information – hundreds and hundreds of feeds – and assemble them to find important risk elements.”

This is the fifth Super Bowl using the technology behind the Haystax system, says Terdiman.

In 2012, in the week leading up to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, four people needed emergency treatment because of nausea, says Terdiman.

Security officials dispatched fire hazardous materials specialists, support teams and a biological hazardous materials specialist.

After investigating, officials concluded the four nausea cases were unrelated, says Terdiman.

“Prior to using this software, there was no way they would have even noticed that there were these four incidents in the same area and the same time.”

The mobile app allows security personnel on the ground to quickly submit what they see as suspicious behavior, including taking photos of a location’s camera, entrance crash barriers, and access control procedures.

With the recent growth of social media, more data will be coming in than in previous Super Bowls.

Beverina tells CNET that if the technology works as it has in the past, the public will be safe and the focus can be on football.

“It’s about speed of action. How fast can you get people with knowledge of the action on the scene. … It’s about managing chaos.”

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