Verizon Provides Communications Support for Super Bowl LV
Friday, February 05, 2021 | Comments
Verizon is providing critical communications support for Super Bowl 55 in Tampa Bay, Florida, in a year where the Super Bowl will look quite different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s safe to say that Super Bowl 55 will be like no other, especially in regards to safety and security,” said former New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton, who is the chair of Verizon’s first responder advisory committee. “While there will be hundreds of thousands fewer people at the game and in the Tamp area compared to past Super Bowls, the risk associated with any large-scale event in this current environment has never been greater.”

During Super Bowl weekend, Verizon will have a communications command center in the area to address any issues that arise in communications. That command center will be supported by about 100 technicians and engineers, with half the staff in person and the other half working over video conferencing due to constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In preparation for supporting communications during the Super Bowl, Verizon made upgrades to its network totaling $80 million in the area and extended 5G support to the area, said Andres Irlando, senior vice president public sector at Verizon.

Prior to the event, Verizon spent about a year in the Tampa Bay area studying where the events and crowds would be during the event and determining where much of the traffic and network congestion will be, said Brian Mecum, vice president of device technology at Verizon. The carrier then used that information to help engineer its network to support those demands for capacity.

Verizon also has its critical response team prepped in the Tampa Bay area, and that team will be able to roll out deployable network assets into high-congestion areas in order to provide better capacity and coverage in those areas.

The added 5G will be used to help improve safety and security in venues through real-time crowd management tools that can allow venues to limit congestion and reduce wait times during the event, said Vickie Longer, vice president, network and security products at Verizon. Artificial intelligence (AI) driven cameras will help venue operators track large congregations of people to help manage traffic flow and improve safety and security, she said.

Tampa Bay Police Department Chief Brian Dugan said that Verizon’s previous experience in supporting previous Super Bowls was key in preparing for the event.

“The hardest part is, telecommunications, in law enforcement, that’s not our expertise and a lot of times you don’t know what you don’t know and that’s always the challenge of law enforcement,” Dugan said.

Dugan said that during the event, the police department and the 70 other agencies working together during the event can rely on Verizon’s experience to help inform first responder about whether traffic on the network is a problem that needs to be addressed or something that may have been normal during previous Super Bowl operations.

Dugan noted that while the next-generation technologies available through 5G are nice, the most critical part of any Super Bowl response is ensuring that the network is reliable and can provide the communications that they need during the response.

“Everyone wants to be cutting edge, and you want to be up with the times, but you really have to have stuff that you know if going to work,” Dugan said. “You have all kinds of plans and everything else, but if you’re at gameday, so to speak or literally, you need your stuff to work.”

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