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how gis helped secure super bowl XLVIII I ND U S T RY P E R S P E C T I V E

















The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) is tasked with protecting New York City’s 322 square miles and 8+ million citizens. If this mission alone wasn’t big enough, in 2014, the most televised and popular sporting event in America, the Super Bowl, came to MetLife Stadium as the Denver Broncos faced the Seattle Seahawks. For most of us, the Super Bowl is a one-day event where we gather with friends and family to watch the game. But for the FDNY, the Super Bowl involved months of planning and preparation. The FDNY had the mission-critical task of preserving the safety of NYC residents and thousands of tourists coming to NYC for the game. For the FDNY, the Super Bowl presented many security challenges. But thanks to emerging technology, and fast deployment options, FDNY had the people, process and technology in place to retain security during the event. This industry perspective will tell the remarkable story of collaboration and technology that kept tourists and residents safe during the Super Bowl XLVIII, including the technology solutions provided by Esri and PenBay that were deployed during the event. We’ll also feature interviews with:

» » Deputy Commissioner Joel Golub, Chief Information Officer, FDNY » » Captain Steven Pollackov, FDNY GIS Unit » » Captain Mike Brady, FDNY GIS Unit » » Benton Yetman, Director of Solutions, PenBay Solutions

KEE P I N G T H E S UP E R BO W L SAFE: THE BACK GROUN D Leading up to the game, there were nearly 300 events requiring public safety attention. These events spanned 200 square miles and crossed two states, 15 counties and 22 cities. And since many of the events were part of festivals or temporary environments, officers had to operate in new kinds of environments. One of the most important and highest trafficked areas was Super Bowl Boulevard. For a five-day period, this temporary thoroughfare spanned from 34th to 47th street on Broadway, and was the epicenter for the fan


Industry Perspective

experience during Super Bowl XLVIII. Super Bowl Boulevard had countless events, high-profile guest appearances and tourist foot traffic. Leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, FDNY partnered with PenBay Solutions and Esri to develop a new solution to help address the complexity and volume of these security challenges. FDNY leveraged the InVision platform from PenBay, adding the Event Planning Module to support the creation and approval of event preplans. While FDNY had used InVision previously in their

Operations Center, this new module brought an additional set of planning capabilities for use throughout the department and with partner agencies. FDNY also used ArcGIS Online, powered by Esri, to deliver approved pre-plans and intelligence data via maps and mobile apps that could be shared anywhere, anytime. FDNY was able to deploy a mobile solution to help inform field users, making information readily available whether accessed on a tablet, desktop, browser or smartphone.

Leveraging InVision and ArcGIS Online, the FDNY was able to quickly plan out operations throughout the week, and ensure the safety of thousands who came to NYC to watch the game. This solution brought a whole new dimension to planning and operations personnel across the city, providing a cross agency view of up to date information. “The thought leadership of FDNY and the strength and versatility of InVision came together to effectively address the complex safety and security challenges of not just the Super Bowl itself, but for all the events during the week leading up to it,” said Benton Yetman, Director of Solutions, PenBay.

HOW T HE Y DI D I T : ME E T I NG T HE PLAN N IN G OP E RAT I ON A L A ND S I T UAT I O N AL N EEDS “T he Super Bowl was the first time we had the opportunity to provide situational awareness and information to the commanders in the field, utilize mobile and get it done in a fast manner. We didn’t have a lot of time with the Super Bowl; we really had to move quickly to get the application out. The application offered us the opportunity to make that happen in record time.” – Deputy Commissioner Joel Golub, Chief Information Officer, FDNY The FDNY GIS Unit had been using InVision since 2012 – and found that it was indispensible to managing the complex challenges of the Super Bowl. The technology provided the key planning, operational and situational needs required to maintain safety during the Super Bowl.

that be the web browser, the iPad application, any sort of mobile application,” said Captain Steven Pollackov, FDNY GIS Unit. “Also the map services were consumed into our desktop software so any printed version of the map mirrored the information that was being hosted directly through the map services.”

The FDNY use case is a perfect example of how GIS has become an integrative technology for public sector organizations. With GIS, there are many different ways organizations can leverage existing tools to drive mission need. GIS is the technology that brings together big data, mobile and cloud – and allows information to be displayed on a map.

For the first time ever at the FDNY, InVision and ArcGIS Online provided the opportunity for FDNY to build a solution that gave first responders, field workers and command center staff improved operational insights and improved situational awareness in real-time.

Since maps tell stories, the ability to show this data visually is an important step for organizations to make better decisions in the public sector, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public sector. For many public sector organizations, GIS has created a platform for understanding their community, and driving improved decision-making. The same was true for FDNY. “The platform gave us that situational awareness of having all the same data in all the locations whether

“W HEN YOU CAN TAK E [ DATA] AND PU T IT O N A MAP , I T T EL L S A S TORY, ” S AI D BRA DY. “With GIS, we were able to see our hydrants, our equipment, our fire stations and we were able to share that information across our entire network,” said Golub. “Every firehouse had access. We had 20 folks who had mobile access. We distributed to outside entities, outside agencies and we had access here in our Fire Department Operations Center operations center.”

How GIS Helped Secure Super Bowl XLVIII


LE S S ON S L E A R N E D F RO M F D N Y GIS UN IT “T he tool was very easy to use and was very supportive of what we needed to do. Data and time is very critical. We had three weeks. We got it done. It was a large effort, a lot of people behind making it happen internally to collect the data. The data collection was so important because it had to be accurate, but we had the ability to modify it along the way. If we wanted to modify a plan, we could do it on the fly,” said Golub. Although the FDNY was very successful deploying their technology solution, their accomplishment was not without its challenges.

the web-based service, the question was asked how to deliver this service effectively to field staff deployed to Super Bowl Boulevard.

“The biggest risk we looked at was time. We had literally less than a month to implement the system and to use a new mobile technology,” said Golub. Initially, the FDNY did not even include mobile as part of their development plan. Instead, they were focused on webbased browser map application. After they developed

“We demonstrated to the Commissioner the iPad application where we could flow the data from the map services through ArcGIS online into the mobile application,” explained Pollackov. “After the demonstration of this, the Commissioner agreed that it would be good for us to get the data into the field.”

I M P ROV I N G T H E PL A N N I N G, OPERAT ION S AN D S I T UAT I ON A L A W A R E N E S S “P rior to this application, GIS was essentially a mapping tool that has always been very valuable to the agency. For the first time with this application we saw the ability to provide tools for situational awareness, incident command, largescale response and preparedness. To be able to put that in a mobile device, to move that information that is essentially unstructured, we had camera views, floor plans, building plans, response plans, to put that unstructured data together on a map,” said Brady.





InVision Secure was used to create and manage event information. Using ArcGIS, organizers mapped out operational plans using a set of public safety templates. These templates included information on the locations of resources, street closures and routes and operational zones. Only those with user access could get this information.

In the days and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, FDNY had set up command centers – at both mobile and physical locations – and provided information to partner agencies. Users could now see real-time feeds and be delivered information on upcoming events, venue information and layered information from the pre-planning phase, which included intelligence data. The benefit was that everyone was always looking at the same data, in real-time.

With their new technology suite, FDNY could provide access to building information, venue schematics, live video feeds, floor plans, preincident guidelines, emergency action plans and subway data. Additionally, field staff could use mobile devices to attach photos, which was then sent back to command centers.

Industry Perspective

Once the Commissioner approved the plan, the department purchased 25 iPads specifically for the Super Bowl. Since most of the services needed were already built within the web map, deployment to mobile moved very quickly. “We were able to integrate the data from the web browser in the mobile applications on the iPads, and also cross platforms to support Android devices. Anyone with any sort of mobile device or web browser was able to see the data seamlessly,” said Pollackov.

secure sharing of plans as map service endpoints, stakeholders were able to see the same up to date information in the multiple agency command centers, mobile devices in the field, and all print products,” said Yetman. “This focus on interoperable services distribution is a critical best practice for the emergency management community.” One remarkable element of this operation was the level of collaboration that took place. Brady identified the organizations involved:

Although high-risk, FDNY believed they could deploy their mobile app to devices within 3-4 weeks. The agency focused heavily on collecting, managing and cleaning the data, and then pushing it out through ArcGIS. With the ease of use of ArcGIS, and the ability to write once and publish everywhere, the FDNY was able to meet this aggressive timeframe and goal.

» » New York City’s Office of Emergency Management

“To me, and my 30 plus years of experience, the fact that we could develop an app in record time, move it to mobile, and push it out to the field throughout the entire city of New York and share it with other agencies, is an amazing event,” said Golub.

» » New Jersey Office of Information Technology

The ease of deployment from web app to mobile app shows the power of GIS and InVision. “The fact that we were able to complete the solution in under three weeks speaks volumes about the flexibility and configurability of InVision, not to mention the quality of the FDNY GIS Unit data we were working with.” said Yetman. “Although data was changing up until the last minute, we were able to make quick changes and know that field users had immediate access to those updates.”

» » New York City Department of Transportation » » New York City Mayors Office » » New Jersey Office of Emergency Management

» » New Jersey State Fire Department » » Port Authority New York and New Jersey »» National Football League and partner organizations With all these organizations partnering with FDNY, the agency also had to make sure that the data collected was verified and managed. Data not only came from hundreds of events, --- some sanctioned by the NFL, and others not -- but also the partnering organizations that were previously noted.

In the process of managing all this data, FDNY established numerous best practices to share with the community. “I would advise anyone looking at this to think through time and data, think through the collection and validation process for it. But the ability of the platform to host that information, it is very evident, very aware, it is very possible to make that happen quickly,” said Golub.

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“Another best practice learned during the Super Bowl was related to map symbology. In order for cross-jurisdictional use of the platform it’s important to utilize a set of non-localized symbols, so that everyone involved can quickly understand plan features and not have to re-learn symbology,” said Yetman. FDNY GIS Unit started with a National Incident Management System (NIMS) complaint symbology set, and then added in additional local symbology already being used. FDNY found that it was imperative to have a secure distribution of plans to administrators. “By enabling

How GIS Helped Secure Super Bowl XLVIII


“We had multiple formats that we received data. We got data on spreadsheets, emails, word documents -some of them were almost too specific,” said Brady. “The event planner would have all their build-in, buildout times, when they were loading stuff in on Super Bowl Boulevard. What we really wanted was the events that the public was going to attend -- not so much the behind the scenes events.” Once this data was collected, FDNY saw many benefits. Leveraging the ArcGIS cloud, the data remained consistent across all platforms. “[Field staff] had been asking for [data consistency] or something similar where they could see data out in the field. Right now we have a platform that can do that for them. Right now we have the ability to see building information, hydrant information, and all the events that are going on now in an area to be able to see that on a mobile platform or a tablet, they were very happy,” said Brady. This was a groundbreaking development for the team, as it was the first time that their special events unit had the ability to use a live map application, and feed data into it. In the past during special events, all the map applications were printed, and used by the various FDNY units. “[Field workers] had that live situational awareness right at their fingertips rather than have to print other maps. They had all this information live on their devices,” said Pollackov.

To manage all this data and information, technology played a critical role to address the challenges of the public safety community. And of all those solutions, GIS became one of the most important tools used.

“F OR ME, THE BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED WAS START EARLY. THE EARLIER YOU CAN START, THE BETTER, ESPECIALLY WHEN ACCUMULATING AND COORDINATING ALL THIS DATA FLOW. GET ALL THE AGENCIES TO SIT DOWN AT ONE TABLE AND FIGURE OUT WHO IS GOING TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUPPLYING THE DATA, AND SIT DOWN WITH WHOEVER IS PLANNING THE EVENT,” SAID BRADY. “We can actually share the data that is making the map and they can consume it and put it into their map and it is all the same,” said Brady. “It is that common operating picture, that situational awareness that works well within our department, but also across other agencies.”

A FO U N DAT I O N FO R T H E F UTURE “GIS is strategic to the Fire Department of New York City. We plan to use it to help us with large-scale events, to help us with our life-saving mission moving forward. This technology has a role for us,” said Golub. To meet the needs of a challenging environment, technology was imperative for the FDNY. It provided a suite of tools to coordinate and track events, gave pertinent details, and consolidated information into easy to use mapping functions. The Super Bowl challenged the FDNY. But faced with adversity, FDNY staff created a robust solution that not only provided the necessary security requirements for the event, but also has turned into a model for other cities to replicate, and as a means to advance their security missions.


Industry Perspective

“This application is going to be the wave of our future. As we develop more and more, we eventually see it being utilized for all of our special events. Working with other agencies is already something we have done in the past, but can continue through this application,” said Pollackov. The technology is not just for large-scale events like the Super Bowl, but will also facilitate the day-to-day operations of the agency. The use of GIS and InVision will only grow for the FDNY – it’s an important tool to help the agency meet their mission needs and keep people safe.



When Esri was founded in 1969, we realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. Working with others who shared this passion, we were encouraged by the vast possibilities of GIS.

GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 100,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington D.C. with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government.

Today, our confidence in GIS is built on the belief that geography matters - it connects our many cultures and societies and influences our way of life. GIS leverages geographic insight to ensure better communication and collaboration. Explore our website to discover how our customers have obtained the geographic advantage by using Esri software to address social, economic, business, and environmental concerns at local, regional, national, and global scales. We hope you will be inspired to join the Esri community in using GIS to create a better world.

For more information about this report, please reach out to Pat Fiorenza, Senior Research Analyst, GovLoop, at 1101 15th St NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 | Fax: (202) 407-7501 Twitter: @GovLoop

How GIS Helped Secure Super Bowl XLVIII


1101 15th St NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 | Fax: (202) 407-7501 Twitter: @GovLoop

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