3D model help Miami cops to handle Super Bowl security


Hard Rock Stadium 3D model Image: FIU

A comprehensive 3-D-printed model of the multiuse Hard Rock Stadium at Miami Gardens in Florida, US, was designed by the architecture students of Florida International University (FIU) to ease the job of law enforcement agencies to boost security and prepare for Super Bowl LIV 2020 which was played on February 2 in the venue. Helping them in this endeavor was the Miami-Dade Police Department.

This was the sixth Super Bowl hosted in Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade Police learnt a lot from the 3-D model prepared by the students which also unleashed innovative opportunities for training. The Super Bowl is the National Football League’s annual American football championship final.

This was the 11th Super Bowl hosted by the South Florida region and the sixth Super Bowl hosted in Miami Gardens, which hosted Super Bowl XLIV 10 years back.

The detailed model, which measures 4ft by 5ft, is accurate down to the millimeter and shows the intricacies of the professional American football team Miami Dolphins home ground bowl, concourses, and public areas. It is for the first time that Miami-Dade Police has utilized such a method for training purpose ahead of an extravaganza like Super Bowl LIV 2020.

“Law enforcement has never done something like this before for a Super Bowl. This is a first for us, and the students at FIU are the ones who made it happen,” said Major Edgardo Caneva, who is in charge of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Special Patrol Bureau and is also the Super Bowl Operations Commander.

Caneva reached out to FIU Police chief Alexander Casas with the idea for a 3-D model. The College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts Dean Brian Schriner took it up from there and engaged the college’s Robotics and Digital Fabrication (RDF) Lab to design and create the model, which took a total of 3,500 hours. The RDF Lab is financed by the National Science Foundation. This best demonstrates how the college offers its students learning opportunities through experience and observation in order to enable them to work on projects that have real-world applications and at the same time training them as experts in their respective fields.

The brainchild behind the whole enterprise comprises Project Director Hadi Alhaffar, architecture graduate students Katherin Rendon and Francisco Alduenda, and undergraduate IT software student Samuel Morris.

The four-by-five-foot mockup detailed bleachers, hallways, exits, rooms, and even support beams to-scale. To enable closer scrutiny, it can be separated into sliding cross-sections. The team has ensured that they ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s’ and the 3D model is the result of painstaking efforts spent examining rough digital diagrams, walking through foot traffic flow, fine-tuning the lab’s 3-D-printers, and over 3,500 hours of printing. It is perfect to a T.

Officers from the Special Patrol Bureau, which includes the Special Response Team and the Rapid Deployment Force, used the model for months together on a pilot basis to get to know the 65,000-seat stadium better for tactical planning and training in the stadium precincts. Since mid-November, the department was using the model to conduct table-top strategy sessions and trainings in preparation for the Super Bowl which was held on February 2. With the 3D model in place, it saved them the hassle of traveling to and fro the stadium, and also allowed a more direct interaction among the team. The Special Patrol Bureau has decided to use the model for future events.

A collaboration of this nature was a first for the lab, as well.

“This was something unique, for FIU and Miami-Dade Police Department, the creation of a physical model to use in training. It’s not necessarily the scale that is unique — architects make models for demonstration regularly — but the intricacy of details and this type of collaboration,” stated Professor Shahin Vassigh, who is the Director of RDF Lab.

Casas informed that the FIU Police Department funded the project following a request for mutual aid from Miami-Dade Police Department.

“All of South Florida’s law enforcement have strong relationships and are very collaborative. Miami-Dade Police have helped us out a lot, so I couldn’t say yes fast enough,” remarked Casas.

The lab hopes to work in tandem in different ways with FIUPD and Miami-Dade Police Department, and similar agencies. Alhaffar mentioned augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and intelligent lighting as some new fields on which they would like to work in collaboration.

“I think it shows we aren’t afraid of trying something new, and that the university isn’t afraid to push us to do new things,” Rendon added.

It allowed the force to know the structure better, prepare safety procedures and plan where to deploy officers for the major American football event. The model will also be used by the police for future activities like music concerts.

The main challenges faced by the 3D model team was the intricacy of the Hard Rock Stadium Miami, such as the pairs of spiral walkways that connect its various levels at each corner, and huge white spikes that carry tensile cables holding up the canopy roof.

Hard Rock Stadium has already hosted five Super Bowls. The open-air stadium was completed by architecture major Populous in 1987.

Design practice HOK was enlisted to oversee the modernization of the sports complex over three decades later, which included upgrading the seating and adding in a new shade canopy.

With this unique piece of work, the FIU is making a difference in their community.

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