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Tech to help protect Final Four crowds

Matt Hamblen | April 3, 2017
Video, social network and drone surveillance in arsenal; FBI sees no current credible threats.

"The Final Four threat matrix ticks off a lot of boxes that we in security worry about," Jensen said. "It's an international event that millions watch -- in addition to 70,000 at the actual event. "

While the Final Four is not a controversial event that would bring protests, Jensen said there is still the lone wolf threat that is studied by intelligence officials globally.

"With lone wolf actors, there's always a threat," Jensen said. "As technology and intel gets better, our industry is trying to provide tools for pros to identify those threats and take action before things escalate."


No current credible threats at Final Four

At a news conference in Glendale earlier this week, Mike DeLeon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office, confirmed that there is "no current credible threat against any of the games or events this week, but we are asking fans to remain vigilant and if you see something, say something."

That statement was still accurate at 2 p.m. ET Friday, according to Jill McCabe, an FBI public affairs specialist for the Phoenix Field Office.

DeLeon said the FBI is providing manpower, intelligence reporting, analytics assessments and emergency response capabilities if called upon. He said the joint terrorism task force has worked for the past six months and will continue to work "to make sure the games and events are secure."

Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John said the area would be put in lockdown starting Friday, lasting four days. "Security will be of the highest importance during the entire weekend," he said.

The city of Glendale has budgeted more than $1 million for its costs in securing the Final Four, but expects its costs could be lower because the stadium and city have experience hosting mega-events like the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2015. From those previous events, they know, for instance, where extra manpower is not needed and where security cameras may be lightened a bit.

Public safety officials wouldn't comment in detail on all the technology being used to secure the Final Four, but several officials said they have been working for months to make sure everything is safe.


Analyzing "sheer volume of data"

Jensen said one of the biggest technology challenges with securing a major sporting event like the Final Four is "the sheer volume of data" being collected. When monitoring video and social networking data, "it's impossible to sift through everything."

Hitachi has provided its suite of software to other large stadiums and major U.S. cities like Washington where gunshot noise sensors are used to respond more quickly to shootings.

To narrow the data from social networks, Hitachi's customers may set a geo-fence on searches of social network posts to within 5 miles of the stadium, for instance. "In Glendale, I wouldn't care if somebody in Montreal tweeted about a bomb, perhaps," Jensen explained. "But I could say, 'Give me anybody who says these certain words within five miles or 50 miles of this point.'"


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