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Danger looms at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, but is Russia's security up to snuff?

Grant Hatchimonji | Jan. 28, 2014
Aside from military forces and SWAT-like team units for rapid response, the Russians will also deploy sonar systems and anti-missile batteries around Sochi to guard against attacks from both air and sea.

"This seems to be a trend where a major city or enterprise that covers a large geographical area has all kinds of operational issues that they want to be able to control and do so in an intelligent manner," said Besse. Numerous factors including traffic, crowd control, approaches from the nearby Black Sea, railways, airlines, and highways all play into the physical security surrounding the Olympic Games.

"The thing that will really make [the security approach] successful is if they can integrate all these things and set up an intelligent security operation and command center," Besse reiterated. "That way, security forces will have an early warning if some sort of anomaly is going on."

The specific technology that was chosen by Russia to integrate all of the information that security teams are receiving from arms systems, access systems, etc., comes from NICE (Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering) Systems, an Israeli company that specializes in security and data analysis.

"[NICE] has a large integration system platform that has all kinds of features associated with it," said Besse. "But it takes points of data — video images, radio communications, phone calls, access control alarms — and blends it all into a single operating system that interacts with all of that so that intelligent decisions can be made across a large spectrum of events and geography."

Finally, Besse pointed out that the key to the command centers is that they receive all of the information from the various security measures in real time.

"It's another reason why they need to be integrated into a robust system," he said. "Then they can develop plans, reactions, and responses that are intelligence-based, not just reactive-based."

Thinking on a smaller scale
Of course, this is all just big picture security. What about VIPs — including politicians and celebrities — that may be attending the Olympics? To give an idea of how some types of specific protection would be provided, Besse used the example of Janet Napolitano, former head of homeland security, who will be leading the US delegation for the Winter Games.

"[Napolitano's] protection will be provided by US diplomatic security teams there," said Besse. "We have a cordial and cooperative relationship with the Russian security services, so we can make special arrangements and have access to their communications technologies."

Obviously, VIPs like Napolitano are naturally seen as potential targets for terrorism or political statements. Therefore, Besse explained, contingency planning will not only be important for getting VIPs into the country, but also for getting them out; traffic, for instance, will be a significant issue. If there is some sort of event or attack, there needs to be planning for how it will be handled and to where these people will be evacuated.

"It's all part of what goes into providing security for a global event," he said. "Knowing how to respond to any event that might occur."


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