The Super Bowl is considered the second highest threat environment according to the U.S. Federal Government. Super Bowl 50 has an estimated 1 million people expected to be in the San Francisco Bay Area and expected viewership is estimated to be over 100 million in the United States alone. The highest ranking Super Bowl in terms of heightened security was the 2002 Super Bowl, following the attacks on September, 11, 2001. However, all other Super Bowls received a DHS Special Event Assignment Rating (SEAR) of one. Because the San Francisco Bay Area is so large and densely populated, and the festivities stretch from Santa Clara to San Francisco, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are coordinating the security for the event. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the country have been in the Bay Area the past week leading up to the game. The San Francisco Police Department is not giving officers time off and drills have been conducted in and around Levi’s Stadium to prepare officers for any possibly emergency situations that could arise.
Surveillance equipment and intelligence operations, such as social media monitoring, are in place. Automatic License Plate Readers will be utilized and cars can be tracked using this technology in the Bay Area and in other cities throughout the United States. Photographs and surveillance recordings may be used throughout the region during the festivities. The recordings, in conjunction with facial recognition technology, can be utilized by Police if necessary. Cell Phone Tracking Towers are used by Bay Area Police Departments. This technology can track location, phone calls, and even text messages.
In light of the attacks on Paris and San Bernardino, Super Bowl 50 will be one of the most highly guarded sporting events in U.S. History. Currently, there are no credible threats to the event, these measures are strictly precautionary. SWAT teams, bomb experts, and evidence collection technicians will also be present in case of emergency situations. The FBI will have planes and helicopters over the stadium. TSA is deploying visible intermodal prevention and response teams (VIPR) teams. There will also be a maritime exclusion zone created by U.S. Coast Guard Boats. Police are also bracing for potential street protests.
During the game there will be military fighter jets and helicopters flying over San Francisco. Teams may even be transported by helicopter to and from the game. Helicopter training was conducted at the Coast Guard Air Station in San Francisco to prepare the various security personnel. This training was especially important for K-9 teams involved, because the noises and vibrations are something the dogs must get used to before the game. There are No-Fly zones being implemented by the FAA during the game and enforced by the U.S. Air Force and California Air National Guard.
As we look forward to the most popular sports event in the U.S. this Sunday, fans and players can rest assured that their safety is being guarded with the best counterterrorism strategies, technologies, and personnel available.