The New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square is an iconic event in the New York City calendar. And this year, the party will be supervised by camera-equipped drones which will keep watch over partygoers for security.
For the first time, New York City police will use drones to keep an eye on Times Square for the NYE party, which is expected to attract as many as two million attendees. In addition to the camera drones, the police will also be deploying new “counter-drone technology” to block other drones from flying in the area and potentially interfering with the police drones. The drones will be used in addition to traditional anti-terrorism tools like police airplanes and helicopters which will be used as surveillance tools.
Bloomberg reports that the drones and other security measures are being put in place in an attempt to prevent another incident like the shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, in which 59 people who were attending an outdoor concert were killed by a sniper located in a hotel room overlooking the Vegas strip. Although New York police say that they do not have evidence of a credible threat against the NYE celebrations, they are deploying the drones as an extra safety measure.
In a press briefing, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said that in addition to the drones, the police will be using other technology for security including the use of 1,225 portable and stationary cameras. Miller described the drones as supporting devices that will give “visual aid and flexibility” from being able to move a camera around a large crowd and being able to move quickly to any required spot. “This is the first time we’re going to be using it at a large-scale event,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “It’s just going to give us an additional view of the crowd.”
The New York Post reports that other security measures used by the police will include 235 vehicles to block off areas of Times Square, 50 canine teams searching for explosives, and the installation of more than 200 cement blocks in addition to the metal stanchions already in the area.