GPS tracking Super Bowl 50

  • Published
  • By James Spellman, Jr.
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
Whether you're cheering for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers - or just waiting to see the new TV commercials - the constellation of satellites known as the Global Positioning System will be there. The program that originated with the heritage organizations known today as the Space and Missile Systems Center will play a silent, but important role in professional football's biggest showcase.

Football players with the Carolina Panthers and other NFL teams have started using GPS technology for tracking a player's heart rate, pace, speed, step balance, dynamic stress loads, force of impact by an opponent and other valuable data during practices that could be worth millions. Originally used in another kind of football called soccer, these GPS devices fit in the palm of your hand and are worn under a player's pads, allowing sports physicians to monitor various vital signs much the same way NASCAR engineers monitor a car's engine on the racetrack.

Football fans heading to northern California this week will have no other choice but to rely on GPS to get them around Super Bowl 50 venues, the most spread out in history. Consider these logistical facts:

The NFL Experience, pro football's interactive theme park, is headquartered at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. Fans following the Carolina Panthers team are based in San Jose, 48 miles south down U.S. Route 101. The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, are based in Santa Clara, 45 miles south, where Sunday's game will be played at Levi's Stadium.

During Super Bowl 50, GPS devices will be used extensively to track and monitor the location of team members and officials. GPS is used to ensure event organizers and security know the exact location of team vehicles en route to Levi's stadium. If a vehicle were to break down delaying the arrival of a team or game staff to the event, logistics and scheduling would have to be adjusted accordingly.

At the same time, GPS technology will be used to help the influx of football fanatics visiting the fabled "City by the Bay."  Super Bowl 50 fans can access a social mobile application which provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation, based on the live conditions of the road. This essentially lets the local community of drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area help first-time visitors get around during Super Bowl Week.

The city of San Jose, with the help of a startup, will use GPS technology to help visitors better enjoy their stay through a new smartphone app. Built exclusively for Super Bowl 50 by the Super Bowl 50 Hosting Committee, the ROAD TO 50 app showcases all of the Super Bowl celebrations around the San Francisco Bay Area, again by using GPS technology.

From transportation information to photos and videos, the ROAD TO 50 app has it all. Within the app, fans can explore Super Bowl 50 activities such as:

Events: A schedule of events helps fans find all the details for the major events, including hours of operation, ticket info and more. Fans can add these events to their calendars to create a personalized Super Bowl 50 itinerary.

Maps: Fans can explore interactive maps of the San Francisco Bay Area that include events such as NFL Experience Driven by Hyundai, the 50th Mile and Super Bowl City.

Location-based alerts: Super Bowl 50 fans can stay up-to-date with all of the happenings around the area.

The ROAD TO 50 app, utilizing GPS technology originally created by the military and managed by the U.S. Air Force as a free utility to the world, is available on most smartphones in use today. The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee hopes it will be a "must-have" app for any football fan in the San Francisco Bay Area during the lead up to Super Bowl 50 -- all with the help of the Global Positioning System.

GPS is the United States Department of Defense's largest satellite constellation with 31-operational satellites on orbit. 
Operated by Air Force Space Command's 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, located east of Colorado Springs, Colo., the GPS constellation provides precise positioning, navigation and timing services worldwide as a free service by the Air Force, seven days a week, 24-hours a day.

Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.