Thousands of security cameras will show Super Bowl activity
MINNEAPOLIS — Yes, the Super Bowl public safety team is watching you.
And not just with the 2,000 fixed cameras throughout downtown Minneapolis and neighboring areas.
About 2,000 of the 3,000 officers working the Super Bowl have an app that allows them to broadcast any video they take of suspicious activity to the command center where 80 individuals will be stationed to monitor the event.
"This is really law enforcement at its finest," said Minneapolis police Cmdr. Bruce Folkens.
Key law enforcement figures from all over the state are working from the Multi-Agency Command Center near U.S. Bank Stadium to monitor Super Bowl crowds and shift resources as necessary.
It's a critical portion of Super Bowl safety efforts several years in the making.
Law enforcement officers and state officials aren't the only ones working there. Representatives from places like Xcel Energy Center and the Mall of America — "anybody we could possibly need to interact with," said Folkens — are stationed there as well.
About 80 people sit in the center of operations.
"Everybody's got their own individual lane of traffic where they're monitoring and controlling and keeping up with what their purview is. And we have a common operating platform that we can electronically talk to each other and post information back and forth," Folkens said.
They're seated as if in a classroom, but rather than a teacher at the front of the room, three large screens show real-time video footage of areas surrounding and inside the stadium.
Screens cover the city
The screen on the left depicts the view of security cameras throughout downtown Minneapolis, including private company security cameras. The screen on the right shows a log of incidents and things to be aware of.
In the center, a screen shows a map of the city. Drones were sent around town all week taking pictures of areas to make the map as up to date as possible.
Green and purple dots on the map depict different types of security cameras. Clicking on those dots zooms in on the video's view.
Blue and white badges on the screen show real-time movement of officers around town.
If an officer spots suspicious activity or a potential problem, the officer can pull out his or her phone to record video of the activity. That video is then broadcast on the screen to all 80 representatives in the room, enabling them to see what the officers see in real time.
"When there are problems, we have people here who can make decisions and mitigate any type of issues before they become big issues," Folkens said.
Operators in the room also can take the roof off the stadium on the center screen to view the interior and enter rooms within the map. The detailed map allows them to direct officers to specific rooms, and they can view security camera footage within the stadium to monitor activity there as well.
If stadium coverage is secure, the map can span back out, or focus in on other attractions, such as Super Bowl Live at Nicollet Mall.
It's the first use of the command center in Minnesota, but similar command centers have been set up in cities which previously hosted the Super Bowl.
It's a technological improvement since the Super Bowl was last hosted in Minneapolis, in 1992, when pagers were the primary form of communication.
The public safety team partnered with Minnesota companies GeoComm and Securonet to enable the advanced technology.
A buzz of noise filled the command center operations room during a media tour Tuesday, but Folkens said he hopes for a calm game-day experience.
"Our goal is to be as quiet as possible ... to sit back and watch everyone have a good time," he said, adding that cheering for a team would be okay. "In a perfect world, that's what will happen."