Zintro experts discuss London Olympics Security

With security tight in London for the Olympics, we wanted to get an idea of potential security issues that could come up during the games. Our Zintro experts responded.

Tony Ridley, an expert in travel security, says that the Olympics is a lightning rod for numerous interested parties ranging from sponsors to criminal gangs and terrorists. “Given the concentration of visitors and commercial opportunities, all groups seek to exploit the event to their own ends,” says Ridley. “Security around the event therefore needs to be consistent and effective to keep crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing and ticket scalping, to a minimum. This same security mechanism must also detect, deter and react to more critical incidents such as fire, terrorist attacks and even natural disasters.”

One of the biggest problems with the Olympics security arrangement Ridley says, is that many of the organizers simply template their plans. “They may think they have found the perfect solution and may simply run the same plan and requirements, regardless of the location or local environment. Few discover this failure until it is too late or it becomes an expensive adjustment,” he says.

Technology has great versatility and application during the Olympics but it still needs to be monitored and maintained by people and agencies. Ridley cautions. “This is a skill and demand that can be overlooked. Many sponsors and event organizers will be leveraging technology but little of this will be integrated with the security systems, therefore leading to duplication or wastage. Technology may range from ticket validation, SMS alerts, local information applications, information videos to facial recognition,” he says.

Don Heitzman, a physical security analyst, says that managing security at an event like the Olympics is one of the unsung monumental feats of our times. “There are different aspects to consider, one of them transportation security. Sports teams travel together, usually on a bus that takes the team collectively from their hotel to the arena. Now consider hundreds of sports teams traveling to and from a residence or hotel or the Olympic Village at different times during a two week period. Those who would cheer them on and those who would do them harm could be present,” he says. “At the same time, there are high level politicians and heads of state that are attending, all of whom have different standards and protocols for personal security.”

Heitzman says that the process of credentialing is a security issue. “Thousands of people need some level of access to Olympic venues: athletes and their doctors, trainers and coaches, families and guests, VIPs and heads of state, all the way down to facility and maintenance crews. All these people must be categorized and credentialed. Even fans are credentialed,” he says.

Lastly, Heitzman says that the most impressive segment of security at an event like the Olympics is that it will all happen behind the scenes and under the radar. “Security professionals, police and fire officials, safety teams, and terrorism experts from around the world will cooperate in this effort to make it an exciting sporting event rather than an overt security exercise,” he says.

By Maureen Aylward

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