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FirstWatch Real-Time Situational Awareness to Monitor Crowds at Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII

Date: 2012-11-23
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With huge crowds expected to descend on New Orleans for Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII this winter, public safety and public health officials are deploying FirstWatch Real-Time Situational Awareness to make sure they have up-to-the minute information on potential safety threats.

Through the real-time monitoring and analysis of data coming in to the city's 9-1-1 call center, FirstWatch provides police, fire and EMS with rapid notification about incidents or trends that need immediate attention – whether it’s a burst of 911 calls describing symptoms such as coughing and headache that could indicate a biological attack, or a cluster of complaints about criminal activity that would let police know where to marshall their forces.

During Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl, the notifications will also go to officials at the city's Emergency Operations Center, which is located in city hall and coordinates public safety for large events or major incidents.

"FirstWatch will be a key component for public health and safety officials as they monitor crowds and ensure the safety of all the citizens and visitors enjoying Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl," says Jeb Tate, a paramedic/RN and FirstWatch project lead with the City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Specifically, officials from police, fire, EMS, and homeland security have used FirstWatch to set up "triggers" to alert them of potential threats within a "geofence" area several blocks north and south of the parade route, as well as in the area around Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"We’re really excited about being able to use FirstWatch with the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras next year," says Barbara Ireland, deputy chief of New Orleans EMS. "It will tie in multiple disciplines, giving us an early awareness of any potential problems."

The 2013 Mardi Gras parade season will start Jan. 25, then pause to enable the city to host the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. The parades will pick up again after the game, and then end on Feb. 12, better known as Fat Tuesday.

The 2013 Super Bowl and Mardi Gras will not be the first time FirstWatch has been used during major events in New Orleans. The system was also used last year during Mardi Gras and the NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament. "It gave us a full spectrum of what was going on along the parade route, which crosses multiple police and district boundaries, as well as in the hospitality zone, which included the French Quarter, all of the major tourist areas downtown, the Convention Center, the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena," Tate says.

For more information on FirstWatch, see www.firstwatch.net

- Corporate News/9-1-1magazine.com (via FirstWatch, 10/27/12)

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