Southern Miss’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security announced a $4.73 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative program Friday, Nov. 2 to test security technology.
“Since the establishment of [the NCS4] in 2006, this award probably offers the most significant advancement of the mission of the National Center,” Director of NCS4 Lou Marciani, Ph.D., said.
The NCS4, which has previously worked with The Department of Homeland Security, is working, for the first time, with the Department of Defenses. NCS4 not only partnered with the DOD but also with Kopis Mobile, a company that is specialized in designing custom apps and app-enabled electronics.
Kopis Mobile co-founder Hugh Middleton said he believes the partnership will result in a variety of new tools, training and an overall increase in safety across the nation. Marciani said this partnership will open doors to the best of technology, partners, research, developers and manufacturers.
“Our collaborative partnership and advancement of technology will significantly enhance our ability to provide security and protection at national and international spectator events,” Director of the School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science and Security Lisa Nored, Ph.D., said.
Nored said it was an honor to be selected by the DOD to receive the contract. She said the project will allow Southern Miss to and its partners to take a leadership role in exploring and developing security and safety technology.
Marciani said the program with help build a better understanding of the gaps in our current defense technology. He also said they will be testing technology, current and new.
“Hopefully tomorrow, there is a new technology. Maybe a technology that may make a difference in making our experiences in the sports industry safe and secure for our spectators,” Marciani said.
Marciani said what technology they use is wholly dependent on the result of the gap identification they are currently doing. Once the center identifies the gaps, they will go to the DOD and explore options of technologies they can use. He said these technologies are not limited to spectator sports security but will help in most cases where a large crowd is congregating.
“What we are talking about here is technology for mass gatherings,” Marciani said. “That mass gathering is for sports and entertainment, but what happens normally in this field is that it can be applied to other applications.”
The contract will work on a one-year time span, starting with a security gap identification process to tell those involved where the problems in security may lie and give them an idea of where to go from there. After the identification, there will be seven months to do testing, commercializing and outreaching.
Marciani said they will be field testing these technologies during football games and other sporting events around Southern Miss.
Associate Professor of criminal justice Joshua Hill, Ph.D., who will be working as a chief investigator on the contract, said there will be plenty of student involvement but it will mostly be at a graduate level of learning.
“I think [the DOD choosing Southern Miss] says a lot about the university and our ability to carry out a project like this, especially in such a short time frame,” Hill said.