Beyond startup programs, university partnerships and prize competitions, there are still countless ways to promote public safety innovation. One of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) most consequential efforts to do so has focused on giving the private sector legal incentive to continue developing and deploying large scale security technologies.
Coinciding with S&T’s 15-years of approving anti-terrorism technologies for liability protections under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, the S&T Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI) has now approved more than 1,000 Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies. This mark is a testament to the success of the program in encouraging widespread innovation and deployment of technologies to keep the public safe.
“The thousandth approval commemorates expansion of the program, not just because of quantity, but quality of anti-terrorism security capabilities and technologies,” said Bruce Davidson, Director of S&T’s SAFETY Act program.
Recent technologies that have met SAFETY Act criteria include the Bloomberg Corporate Headquarters Security Program, the Soldier Field Security Program for SMG and the Chicago Park District, and Boeing’s Wave Glider. Others approved under the SAFETY Act include screening services, commercial shopping mall properties, professional sports venues, and other important infrastructure security technologies.
Securing American Pastimes
The road to 1,000 SAFETY Act approvals may not have been paved with turf, but OSAI has worked closely with several organizations within professional sports leagues to harden security and ensure the safety of patrons.
“Any product, service, or software that helps officials identify, detect, deter, respond to or mitigate acts of terror may be candidates for approval”, explained Davidson. National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Basketball Association (NBA) venues have had security systems and best practices approved through the S&T SAFETY Act program, though the NFL is OSAI’s oldest partner.
The SAFETY Act program began working with the NFL in 2008 to develop security best practices and has since helped them organize NFL best practices into a matrix that would allow stadium operators to coordinate their operations with the league-wide standards. These efforts create an outline for individual franchises to prepare their own SAFETY Act applications based on their implementation of NFL Best Practices for Stadium Security.
Davidson said, “These best practices address most aspects of the venue’s security operations, including: life safety, evacuations, patron screening, security equipment, delivery and loading dock screening, command and control, security personnel, access control, training, and more. The bottom line is: They are doing more to ensure the safety of everyone at their locations.”
Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, received SAFETY Act protections in 2017 and stated on their website, “Our number one priority is the safety of our patrons, and this certification shows the amount of thought and effort that goes into making sure everyone who comes to any ticketed event at Gillette Stadium is safe.”
Doug Collins, with Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers), stated, “Going through the process allowed us to verify we have all the best practices in place to provide a safe and secure venue.” Lambeau Field received SAFETY Act protections in 2016.
“Since expanding into the stadium and arena mission space, we are a dedicated partner with the leagues and individual franchises offering incentives to continually invest in improving security for their facilities and their fans,” said Bruce Davidson.
Some venues taking advantage of SAFETY Act protections today include:
- Levi’s Stadium
- Gillette Stadium
- FedEx Field
- Met Life Stadium
- Nissan Stadium
- Lambeau Field
- University of Phoenix Stadium
- NRG Stadium
- Comerica Park
- Yankee Stadium
- Citi Field
- Madison Square Garden
Why are so many interested in the SAFETY Act?
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the private sector was reluctant to deploy security technologies and services in civilian settings due to liability risks. The SAFETY Act provides incentives for the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by creating a system of "risk management" and a system of "litigation management." The Act does not limit liability for harms caused by qualified anti-terrorism technologies when no Act of Terrorism has occurred. An event must be deemed an act of terrorism by the Secretary of DHS in order for the protections to be invoked.
With SAFETY Act as an incentive, S&T has found a great variety of applicants interested in having their products and services evaluated and approved as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT).
A technology is evaluated by the following criteria:
- It has been used by the U.S. government before or otherwise demonstrated its effectiveness.
- It is available for immediate deployment in public and private settings.
- Selling or providing the technology comes at extraordinarily large third-party liability risk.
- There is high likelihood the technology cannot be deployed without SAFETY Act protections.
- The public is at high risk if the technology is not deployed.
- Capabilities of the technology can be assessed through scientific study.
- The technology effectively defends against terrorism.
Providers can apply for Designation or full Certification under the SAFETY Act, both of which limit the provider’s liability in the event of a terrorist attack. With Certification, however, providers can additionally assert Government Contractor Defense for any claims arising from acts of terrorism.
Even after reaching the 1,000 mark, technologies continue to be approved as the SAFETY Act program expands, supporting the initiatives of DHS operational components such as the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Transportation Security Administration, and Customs and Border Protection, and the overall Homeland Security Enterprise.
Want to apply or learn more? Please visit the SAFETY Act website for additional information.