The future of security at concert venues may come in the form of "vapor wake" canines. Developed by Auburn University, the trained dogs roam the aisles, smelling the air to detect any hints of either bomb-making materials or explosive devices. When people move, they leave behind thermal plumes that a dog can sniff and detect harmful particles, even in a crowd of tens of thousands.
The New York City Police Foundation writes that vapor wake dogs "are able to detect airborne particles from explosives after a person carrying or wearing them has left an area—and track a suspect even through crowded city streets and train stations." They continue, "traditional bomb-sniffing dogs identify placed or stationary explosives" while the vapor wake dogs "can detect mobile explosives up to 10 minutes after a person has left an area.”
Auburn has already trained around 100 dogs in their 18-month vapor wake program, and dispatched them to places like St. Louis Cardinals games, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport and more. The canines have since detected legal handguns at a rally for Donald Trump, but have yet to pick out a potential bomber.
Tim Leiweke, a former chief executive for AEG Live, believes vapor wake dogs could have prevented recent tragedies, such as the Manchester Arena attack and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, from happening. "I go back and say, 'Would that have happened if there were vapor wake dogs there?' And every time, the answer is, 'Probably not,'" Leiweke said. "What fascinates me is how good they are, how comprehensive they are and how deadly focused that nose is."
Even though the "vapor wake" canines appear to be the wave of the future, not everyone is perceptive to the idea. Steve Kirsner, Vice President of Booking and Events for San Jose's SAP Center, will hold off on having these dogs in his arena "until it develops a little further and we can prove that we have a need for it."
Leiweke says the standard arena would "ideally" need four dogs with each one costing $50,000 per year. It may sound like a steep number, but it's a small price to pay in order to potentially increase the odds of keeping everyone safe in concerts going forward.