What A Super Bowl Power Outage Teaches Us About Backup And Security

2013’s Super Bowl XLVII was memorable for more than the Baltimore Ravens’ win over the San Francisco 49ers – it serves as a modern example of a successful, secure fail-safe system.

Fail-safe systems ensure continued operation when a primary system fails and are crucial to success in all IT systems, particularly concerning security protocol.

The game became known as the ’Blackout Bowl’ when the New Orleans Superdome suffered a partial power outage early in the third quarter.

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’After Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans knew it was going to be hit with more hurricanes, they rebuilt the Superdome, and they built it in a way in which the system would assume that there would be a generator breakdown just because of the nature of winds and water and everything else,’ said security expert and Department of Homeland Security adviser Juliette Kayyem. ’And they built it in a way in which they protected the other half of the Superdome. In other words, the cascading losses are actually cut off.’

While fans may have been unimpressed by the 22-minute power outage at the time, Kayyem said it was an excellent example of how preparing systems for the worst prevents a total disaster.

’People like me are watching and saying, ’That’s an awesome fail-safe system,’ " she said.

The Superdome’s utility company, Entergy, blamed the outage on a problem in interconnection equipment.