U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Science and Technology Directorate
  2. News Room
  3. Feature Article: S&T Helps the NFL Play Defense Around the Big Game

Feature Article: S&T Helps the NFL Play Defense Around the Big Game

Release Date: April 11, 2024

It is an unfortunate, but all too real, aspect of our daily lives that security has to be top of mind when staging a big event, and there is no event bigger than the Super Bowl. The planning and organization that goes into making something like the Super Bowl happen seamlessly and securely, and come off without a hitch, begins almost as soon as the previous one ends.

The front entrance area of a multi-story hotel complex with a long horizontal RAPID system barrier in front that is covered with a fabric reading, “National Football League Honors”.
RAPID system deployed at Resorts World Las Vegas as part of the NFL Super Bowl events. Photo Credit: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).
RAPID system. A large, corrugated metal container sitting on a flatbed trailer in a parking area in front of a pickup and a semi-truck.
A section of the RAPID barrier, in its container, waiting to be deployed onsite. Photo Credit: ERDC.

At this year’s game, which took place in February at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) helped to deploy a new and innovative technology solution to assist the Department of Homeland Security, federal, state, and local law enforcement, and event security teams with keeping everyone safe.

In the week leading up to the game, S&T’s Physical Security Program worked with partners at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to deploy the Ready Armor Protection for Instant Deployment (RAPID) system in support of the National Football League (NFL).

RAPID is a quickly deployable barrier for critical asset protection and urban operations, that uses a hydraulic system and wheels to allow for it to be set up with just a few people. Each RAPID barrier is integrated into a container for storage and transport.

Once on site, each section can be expanded to 35 feet during use, and when fully expanded, RAPID provides ballistic/fragmentation protection, intrusion protection, and line-of-sight denial. RAPID is scalable, meaning each barrier section can connect to as many additional sections as required.

Inside of a metal container looking out the open end where a person stands holding a section of an expandable metal barrier being wheeled into place.
Inside RAPID as it is being extended into place. Photo Credit: ERDC.

RAPID does not depend on heavy equipment, special tools, or an electrical power source to be deployed or recovered. RAPID provides protection at least seven times faster than the most comparable system (a similar modular protective system) and is 70 times faster than building a sandbag wall of similar size.

Two connected sections of corrugated RAPID system metal barrier, about 30 feet in length, in front of the covered entrance of a hotel complex. There is a large parking structure in the background.
The RAPID barrier fully extended awaiting the decorative wrap. Photo Credit: ERDC.

Once in place during this year’s Super Bowl Weekend, RAPID was evaluated by multiple DHS agencies, Las Vegas law enforcement, and Live Nation, an American multinational entertainment company. One of the deployments was at the NFL Honors event at Resorts World, where two RAPID barrier sections, comprising 70 total feet of protection, shielded critical parts of the venue from potential vehicle ramming and improvised explosive device detonations.

“The location for this deployment was next to an important traffic artery that could not be shut down and had vulnerable high-capacity entry and exit points, which presented an ideal opportunity to showcase RAPID’s capabilities,” said Physical Security Program Manager Ali Fadel. “RAPID was able to fill gaps in the venue’s security posture, while proving to be the most mobile and effective solution.”

Two connected sections of the RAPID system metal barrier, about the height of a person, and approximately thirty feet in length, with one end open revealing the internal structure, including crossbeams, wheels, and a hydraulic mechanism.
An extended section of RAPID, showing some of the hardware that helps make it easy to deploy. Photo Credit: ERDC.

S&T escorted NFL senior personnel to view the RAPID barrier who were impressed with its capabilities. Once in place, the RAPID barrier was wrapped with a decorative cover—an important aspect of the system because it allows the barrier to blend in, concealing its actual dimensions and function from anyone who might seek to break through to the protected area behind.

Following the event, a final report prepared by ERDC concluded that all who participated in the deployment liked how portable the system was. Specifically, one participant was interested in taking advantage of the mobility of the system with a modified version that was shorter for use primarily as a hostile vehicle barrier.

A RAPID barrier system approximately 40 feet in length in front of the entrance to a multi-story hotel complex. The barrier is covered with a fabric covered with designs and the text, “National Football League Honors.”
The RAPID barrier in place with its decorative wrap. Photo Credit: ERDC.

Participants are compiling a list of requirements to submit to ERDC for further RAPID development; for instance, some of the DHS stakeholders thought a customized version of RAPID could be designed with a shallower footprint and a hinged panel, allowing the height of the barrier to be increased quickly without escalating a potential crowd control situation. This kind of deployment, and the resulting feedback and ongoing refinement, is an excellent example of the kind of valuable test and evaluation work that is undertaken by S&T and illustrates the complex and vital role S&T plays as the research and development home of DHS.

Ali Fadel summed up the weekend for RAPID, “We are learning more about the versatility of the units with each deployment.  As we converse with the law enforcement community, venue owners, first responders, and other R&D personnel, we learn about the possible deployments, enhancements, and uses for this versatile barrier.” 

RAPID was also deployed at the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. Learn more about that in S&T’s Technologically Speaking podcast episode with Ali Fadel, Any Place Where People Congregate. For related media inquiries, contact STMedia@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 04/11/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content