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City cancels plans for Super Bowl drone despite enthusiasm and interest from NOPD, others

Tom Gogola
The Lens [1]
September 18, 2012

A month after The Lens began asking questions about city officials’ plans to use a U.S. Homeland Security Department aerial drone to monitor Super Bowl crowds, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu said today that the city is scrapping those plans.

Spokesman Ryan Berni offered no reason for dropping the eye-in-the-sky technology, telling a reporter to submit a public-records request. In a brief phone interview, he would say only that the decision to ditch the drone was made “over the past several days.”

In a follow-up email, Berni said Homeland Security would be providing a manned helicopter, equipped with a camera, and that “the City learned by phone in the last few weeks” about the switch.

The reversal is a stark change from the excitement for potential drone use shown by Deputy Mayor Jerry Sneed, who oversees public safety for the city. Such unmanned aerial surveillance robots also could be used after the Super Bowl to monitor crowds during Carnival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Sneed suggested in an interview three weeks ago.

Full story here. [1]