New Orleans to use FirstWatch system during Mardi Gras, Superbowl

New Orleans public health and safety officials are deploying the FirstWatch Real-time Situational Awareness system in preparation for Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII.

FirstWatch is capable of providing monitoring and analyzing data coming into a city's 911 call center, providing police, fire and EMS services with rapid notification about incidents and trends that need immediate attention. A rapid number of calls describing symptoms of coughing, nausea or headache would prompt the system to warn of a potential biological or chemical agent event, according to

During large events like Mardi Gras or the Super Bowl, notifications will also be sent to New Orleans' Emergency Operations Center, located in city hall, which coordinates public safety efforts.

"FirstWatch will be a key component for public health and safety officials as they monitor crowds and ensure the safety of all the citizens and visitors enjoying Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl," Jeb Tate, the FirstWatch project lead with the City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said, reports.

Before large events, officials from police, fire, EMS and homeland security have utilized FirstWatch to set a series of triggers to alert them of potential threats within areas close to parade routes and the Superdome.

"We're really excited about being able to use FirstWatch with the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras," Barbara Ireland, the deputy chief of New Orleans EMS, said, reports. "It will tie in multiple disciplines, giving us an early awareness of any potential problems."