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Public safetyProtecting major sport venues

Published 3 November 2017

Three major sporting leagues — the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Basketball League (NBA) — have played a key role in significantly upgrading and strengthening security at stadiums and arenas throughout the country with the help of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s SAFETY Act. The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act incentivizes private sector investment in protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and the public by providing liability risk mitigation and litigation tools for claims that stem from or relate to an act of terrorism where a SAFETY Act covered technology (called a qualified anti-terrorism technology) is used.

Three major sporting leagues — the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Basketball League (NBA) — have played a key role in significantly upgrading and strengthening security at stadiums and arenas throughout the country with the help of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s SAFETY Act.

S&T says that the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act incentivizes private sector investment in protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and the public by providing liability risk mitigation and litigation tools for claims that stem from or relate to an act of terrorism where a SAFETY Act covered technology (called a qualified anti-terrorism technology) is used.

In the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, the private sector was reluctant to develop and use security technologies and services in public venues due to the potential for enormous, business ending litigation in the event of another terrorist attack. As a result, there was concern that the private sector would under invest or under deploy security technologies.

In response, Congress enacted SAFETY Act of 2002. These protections are triggered when the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security makes a determination that an “act of terrorism” has occurred. Responsibility for administering the SAFETY Act program is with the Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI) (program information can be found at www.SAFETYAct.gov).

When the SAFETY Act was created, it was done so with the intention of giving DHS broad latitude for providing protections. As a result, the program provides coverage to a wide variety of products, systems and programs. This wide scope includes large, layered security programs such as those used at commercial buildings and sports venues.

In recent years, commercial facilities and sports venues have expressed a sharp increase in interest. Notably, owners and operators see the value of the SAFETY Act program and are taking steps to invest in technology integration, command-and-control, and best practices for their venues, significantly strengthening our homeland security.