Super Bowl 50 is still over four months away, but the marquee event of the NFL football season is already generating widespread attention in Silicon Valley as a Bay Area partnership, including the San Francisco 49ers, was announced yesterday and received recognition from the White House at the same time.
The White House issued a statement on Monday that recognized a newly-formed collaboration in the San Francisco area which is designed to ensure a smart, safe Super Bowl in February. In addition to the 49ers, the collaboration includes the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), City of Santa Clara, Santa Clara Police Department, Arini Geographics, and Allied Telesis.
The White House, through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is hosting a Smart Cities Forum this week in Washington, DC, bringing together government, technology research, and city planning representatives to focus on economic growth, traffic congestion and improving delivery of urban services.
“For the first time, law enforcement, NFL security, transit authority, and city leaders will have access to the same real-time security data in a consolidated visual platform,” said the White House statement released yesterday.
The enormous effort currently underway to provide a safe and efficient environment at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California (where the Super Bowl will be held) prompted the establishment of a partnership between the host 49ers team and a mix of public agencies and private corporations. The group hopes that their collaboration will serve as a model for other cities in how they manage and deploy public safety resources using technology tools.
In response to an inquiry for this story, Al Guido, the 49ers chief operating officer, expressed gratitude for the White House recognition and highlighted the cooperation of the team’s public safety and transportation partners. “We just opened the stadium one year ago, but if you watched the myriad of agencies working together to put on a 49ers game you’d think they’ve been collaborating for ten years,” said Guido. “They check their egos at the door and just get the job done.”
Neither the White House nor members of the partnership could provide specifics on the technology behind the safety measures that will be in place for the Super Bowl, citing information security and confidentiality concerns. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has assigned February’s Super Bowl the highest possible security rating (Level One).
However, a joint release issued by the 49ers described “state of the art sensors” and a system that “can send automatic alerts to designated parties” when concerns are identified.
“When we looked at some of the public safety challenges in preparation for Super Bowl 50, it was clear that the private sector could play a critical role in developing technology to solve a problem,” said Taki Oshima, chairman and CEO of Allied Telesis, one of the companies involved in providing the necessary technology through its Envigilant platform.
The involvement of the 49ers in the public/private partnership underscores the team’s willingness to be a full participant in the technology-oriented Silicon Valley community. In addition to serving as a major event venue, Levi’s Stadium also houses an education center where over 30,000 Bay Area students from kindergarten through the eighth grade received training in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects over the past year.
“Kids throughout the Bay Area are getting a valuable educational experience in STEM and they are able to touch it using interactive displays and learning tools in our classroom,” said Roger Hacker, senior manager of corporate communications for the team.
The 49ers have also pioneered new technology to enhance the fan experience. VenueNext, a Silicon Valley based venture that spun out of a 49ers-supported project, created a mobile app for large venues. The app was introduced during the inaugural season at Levi’s Stadium in 2014 and lets attendees find an open parking space, view replays of on-field action, and order food.
Yesterday’s White House smart cities announcement and the formation of a local public/private partnership that includes one of the NFL’s signature franchises highlights the increasing importance that technology is playing in major events like the Super Bowl. The collaboration between local police and transit agencies with the private sector may well lead to new innovations in city and community management, a trend that is very smart indeed.