May 03 2018

Kentucky Derby 2018: Louisville Grooms Tech to Spur Fan Safety

The city taps mobile tech to enhance safety for fans flooding the city at and around Churchill Downs during the "Run for the Roses."

This is not your father’s Kentucky Derby. It’s probably not even yours from 10 years ago.

On May 5, tens of thousands of fans will pack Churchill Downs to watch a field of 20 horses race in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, otherwise known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Millions more around the world will watch the spectacle on television.

Technology is seeping into how fans experience the race more than ever before with everything from artificial intelligence to blockchain-based betting making its way into the surrounding area. Most poignantly, however, the city of Louisville, Ky., is using technology to keep Derby patrons and city visitors safe via an alert system.

SIGN UP: Get more news from the StateTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

Louisville Uses Mobile Alerts to Keep Derby Patrons Safe and Informed

As StateTech reported last year, to keep the crowds safe during the event, the Louisville Metro Police Department has implemented several pieces of new and innovative technologies for its Real Time Crime Center, with the centerpiece being its video surveillance of the city.

Last month, the city noted that Louisville Metro Emergency Services is offering a text message alert system for residents and visitors coming to the city for the Derby. LENSAlert, the Louisville Emergency Notification System, offers a text message sign-up which will provide event-goers real-time notifications in the instance of an emergency. The city set up the LENSAlert system in 2016.

To sign up for notifications for any event throughout the Derby season, patrons can text “Derby” to 67283. Should an incident occur, Louisville Metro EMS will send text message notifications from MetroSafe, Louisville’s 911 communications center. MetroSafe stays in constant communication with the Incident Command System, the Emergency Operations Center, first responders and LMPD’s Real Time Crime Center. It maintains a high level of situational awareness during all events.

“We expect a safe and secure Derby Season and are doing everything we can to be prepared, including offering text alerts for the public,” Emergency Services Director Jody Meiman says in a statement. “LENSAlert is meant to communicate emergency information only and will be the trusted source of information should a major incident occur.”

Alerts will only be sent out for true emergencies, reports. “If we had a hazardous material for some reason in that area, then that would be something,” Jody Duncan, a spokesperson for Louisville Metro EMS, tells the site. “If, in fact, there were some sort of active shooter situation. If there was any severe weather emergency.”