Over 70,000 fans gathered to watch the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals play in the 2022 Super Bowl. Inglewood and Los Angeles public safety agencies spent months preparing to keep everyone safe during the weekend’s events—and smooth emergency communications were an integral part of their game plan.
Part of the city’s preparations included using the FirstNet Authority’s pre-planning event support to help maximize the network’s capabilities. This free and unique service is offered to FirstNet subscribers from the FirstNet Authority. It results in more timely and efficient decision-making, better coordinated responses, and well-managed resources and logistics.
Anticipating responders’ needs
First responders at any size event depend on reliable communication to ensure a successful and safe outcome. Yet, planning for a major event like the Super Bowl often adds another layer of complexity to logistics and preparation.
That’s why the FirstNet Authority and AT&T began pre-planning support discussions with Los Angeles public safety agencies in early 2021. An event of this size and scale required multiple planning and coordination meetings taking place over a year in advance of the game. Even smaller events like county fairs and local parades can benefit from advance planning meetings to discuss communication needs.
“For large events, we don't facilitate a two-hour meeting and walk away with all the locations mapped, information for the location, and type up a report—it’s much, much more involved than that,” said Doug Harder, Senior Public Safety Advisor for the FirstNet Authority. “We attend meetings over the course of the year and engage in a lot of back and forth with questions with the stakeholder, with AT&T, and with the public safety agencies involved in the event.”
Behind-the-scenes planning for large events also includes extensive coordination with local, state, and federal public safety agencies. Convening all the relevant parties is an important step to avoiding issues on or close to event day.
In the months leading up to the big game, the FirstNet Authority collected critical information from public safety agencies to ensure communications ran smoothly. After assessing their communication needs, the FirstNet Authority captured key details (e.g., logistical challenges around the event space, environmental/safety regulations, secure communication points) and shared the information with AT&T to aid decision-making.
The FirstNet Authority also worked closely with federal agencies performing important public safety functions before, during, and after the game. Our team of experts understand the unique communication challenges that federal agencies face. The FirstNet Authority presented AT&T with the federal user’s perspective to address and manage their technical requirements, operational protocols, and security needs.
Shoring up network infrastructure
The FirstNet Authority’s pre-planning discussions helped AT&T identify and deploy the right FirstNet broadband and coverage solutions for the event, including detecting communication gaps around the stadium and in the wider Los Angeles area. AT&T invested in the network to expand FirstNet’s 5G capabilities to reach first responders on patrol or situated in emergency operations centers. Using FirstNet’s priority and preemption service, first responders bypass local network congestion.
Advance planning sessions also prepared for redundancy measures to keep the network running in the event of a catastrophic event or natural disaster. AT&T-FirstNet deployed multiple FirstNet assets and solutions to serve as alternative communications solutions should a backup network be needed, including: six COWs (Cell on Wheels) with Band 14 and commercial spectrum, five FirstNet SatCOLTs (Satellite Cell on Light Trucks), a FirstNet Compact Rapid Deployable (CRD), a FirstNet Communications Vehicle, and a cache of FirstNet-ready devices. The FirstNet Authority assisted public safety stakeholders to identify locations and worked with all parties on the optimal positioning for these assets.
Improving the broadband experience
On game day, the FirstNet Authority monitored emergency communications and operations inside the Inglewood Joint Operations Center (JOC). JOCs act as a convening point for public safety agencies to share information and coordinate response.
While in the JOC, responders had direct access to FirstNet Authority public safety experts to help remedy communications issues, uplift FirstNet users, and identify FirstNet solutions that could solve problems at hand.
AT&T-FirstNet operated inside the Inglewood JOC and at the Los Angeles Unified Command, located at the Los Angeles Police Academy, to support responders serving the surrounding areas. The team provided a variety of services, including switching out SIM cards, connecting LTE mobile hotspot routers, and setting up FirstNet accounts.
In the days leading up to the game, the FirstNet Authority team working in the JOC assisted with the uplift of over 300 phone numbers onto the FirstNet network, including requests from the Inglewood Police Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and other responders operating inside the stadium. At future large events, the FirstNet Authority plans to offer uplift planning services even further in advance to help meet the growing demand for the service. This will give the FirstNet Authority team more time to determine user eligibility, conduct test uplifts, and perform troubleshooting exercises.
Additionally, the FirstNet Authority plans to increase their activity at similar events. An increased presence inside JOCs or on-site allows the FirstNet Authority team to not only provide direct technical help to first responders, but also share operational best practices and gather important feedback and operational needs to inform future investment of resources.
“It’s all about being there and being visible. This is a huge benefit to public safety,” said Harder about the FirstNet Authority being onsite. “Public safety was happy that we were there and able to take care of their problems right away. Our participation keeps us involved in the day-to-day operations and we’re able to see things to help with improving FirstNet’s tools and services.”
Whether organizing a sporting event, a county fair, or responding to a weather-related disaster, first responders know that pre-event or incident planning is crucial to any size event to ensure a successful and safe outcome.
If you’re interested in discussing how to integrate FirstNet services and broadband capabilities into an event or emergency response plan, contact Doug Harder at Doug.Harder@firstnet.gov.
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