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Four officers on horses during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

FirstNet aids in monitoring restricted airspace at the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

October 23, 2018

This blog is a repost from an October 2018 FirstNet AT&T press release.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is New Mexico’s largest annual event. It attracts more than 900,000 visitors every October, and over two dozen first responder agencies are responsible for the safety of the event. At the 2018 event, the FirstNet team at AT&T provided devices and technical assistance to help those first responders stay connected.

The Fiesta also employed a drone detection system operated by Aerial Armor to monitor restricted airspace above Balloon Fiesta Park and the surrounding area. The FirstNet network provided connectivity to the system to help it maintain peak performance.

“Prior to connecting via FirstNet, we were seeing signal dropouts. This interrupted our ability to properly monitor the event. We worked with public safety officials at the Fiesta to get connected to FirstNet, allowing our operations to run much smoother. It also enabled us to get the right information – like pictures and text messages – to law enforcement right away,” said Brandon Lugo, operations manager at Aerial Armor.

According to preliminary numbers, there were 46 drone detections in the restricted airspace during the 9-day event with 12 to 15 apprehensions.

“With congestion on the network, we typically don’t have the connectivity we need via a traditional carrier to communicate at the level we need to coordinate with the people working in the Park. FirstNet gave us that. I was able to get real-time pictures and videos of incidents that needed attention from law enforcement,” said New Mexico State Police Sergeant Steven Carroll. “The ability to stop potential issues before they negatively impacted attendees was monumental.”

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