FirstWatch to Monitor Crowds at Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII
Encinitas, Calif. – January 15, 2013 — With huge crowds expected to descend on New Orleans for Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII, 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 911 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 marshal 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," says Barbara Ireland, deputy chief of New Orleans EMS. "It will tie in multiple disciplines, giving us an early awareness of any potential problems."
New Orleans EMS is recognized as one the leading agencies in the U.S. and was recently recognized by EMS World and the National Association of EMTs as the winner of the 2012 paid EMS Service of the Year.
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.
"We are delighted to welcome the City of New Orleans to the FirstWatch family as our first customer in Louisiana. We look forward to working with the city of New Orleans’ police, fire, and EMS teams in providing real-time situational awareness to help these important events go off safely and smoothly," says FirstWatch President Todd Stout.
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.
FirstWatch, an Encinitas-Calif.-based company, began monitoring 911 data in Kansas City, Mo. in 1999. Since then, FirstWatch has grown into a leader in real-time public safety data analysis—one that's utilized by police, fire, emergency medical services, and public health organizations in 35 states and provinces across the United States and Canada.
FirstWatch's Real-Time Situational Awareness System enables public safety organizations to monitor what's happening in their system as events are unfolding, enabling quick action and response. FirstWatch's custom software solution can be used to enhance situational awareness to protect the health and safety of emergency responders; to detect and alert public health and safety organizations to pandemic disease or bioterrorism; and to enable public safety agencies to monitor operational performance to ensure the efficient and responsible use of resources.
FirstWatch's customer-oriented team–many of whom have previous public safety and public safety software experience–also offer custom report development and custom alerts, or "triggers," designed to help organizations meet specific situational awareness objectives, as well as performance/operational goals and quality measures.