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Olympic Security - Technology in the spotlight


Mark Fletcher has a dig beneath the surface to see what technological means are at the disposal of the Olympics organisers and the partner agencies


H


alf the fun of putting together features like these is the research. More often than not you can experience a whole gamut of emotions from the top-end “wows!” to the deep, unbelieving sighs. In this case though, the


research has been a real challenge. The primary issue is that the London Organising Committee of the


Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), the MET Police, the Home Office and all their partners are all - and quite understandably, if I am honest - remarkably tight lipped about the £1 billion worth of security means being deployed; even going so far as barring the press from a presentation by Stephen Cooper, Head of Security for the Olympic Delivery Authority, at the recent ASIS event in London. Indeed, I am fully expecting a visit from men in suits, sunglasses and earpieces due to the amount of questions I have asked about Olympic security. What we can be sure of though, is a huge amount of eyes at


street level, as the security-staff count soars to over 20,000 (double the initial perceived requirement) to cover all 34 Olympic venues. G4S, a partner agency, is recruiting and training some 13,000 staff and about 3,000 volunteers will help search and scan ticketholders as they enter venues. In addition, a scheme called ‘Bridging the Gap’ – using students and people who are out of work – will make up the balance. What is more, these ordinary people on the street will be backed


up by a huge multi-force police presence and, if recent press reports are to be believed, a significant contingent from MI5 and HM Armed Forces. After four months of negotiations between the MoD, the Treasury, Home Office and LOCOG, this military presence will, apparently include regular and special forces troops on the ground, anti-aircraft missiles in the suburbs, interceptors in the air and a dirty great big warship parked somewhere in the Thames.


060 ISB The national press has also cottoned on to the fact that the MET


Police might well be wheeling out a variety of unmanned drones to cover the Games. The drones in question have been trialled in the past by various police forces – with very mixed results – with only Staffordshire still using one. According to a spokesperson for Essex Police in ‘The Independent’ newspaper, their drone has been “languishing in a warehouse for much of the year, after the force decided it wasn’t worth the money”. Merseyside Police, on the other hand, did use a drone for four years, which was, apparently, instrumental in a number of arrests; but has since been ditched somewhere in the river Mersey. Back at street level, one technology which is a no brainer is the


use of the UK’s ubiquitous CCTV infrastructure. As the most spied upon nation in the world, with over 4.3 million cameras in operation, the UK’s police forces are spoilt for choice when it comes to ‘eyes up poles’. But as discussed in previous features for ‘Security Buyer’, unless they deploy some form of proactive facial recognition or use ‘unusual-event spotting’ software algorithms, all they will be able to identify is who to chase after the incident. It is also a given that the Olympic park itself will have a massive array of additional cameras I just hope some of the £1 billion budget has been spent on HD digital solutions. Another technology, which is already out in force since the


commencement of the construction phase, is Biometrics. The building of the Olympic stadia and all the associated sites has been no mean feat, with thousands of staff working for the past few years on one of Europe’s biggest building sites. From the very beginning, security has been very high on the agenda and, as well as strict vetting, all those that enter the site have had to submit to having various parts of their bodies (face, fingerprints or iris) scanned for identification purposes.


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