The challenges of securing the Olympics

February 2, 2018

As we get ready to cheer on the world’s most dedicated athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the concerns around the 2018 Games are not new. We understand the challenges associated with securing large-scale citywide events that include multiple venues, jammed transportation routes, and hundreds of thousands of spectators.

We also know that security challenges around events like these are high, in part, because they are essentially one-offs. When a city has to prepare for a single, once-in-a-generation spectacle, they have to hit the ground running. Luckily, they can learn from other people’s experiences. A recent example of a highly successful large-scale single event is the Los Angeles Special Olympic World Games of 2015 (LA2015).

What we learned from the highly successful LA2015

LA2015 welcomed 6,500 athletes, 2,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers, and 500,000 spectators over 12 days. Security was a massive undertaking made more challenging because the organization’s guiding principle was that the public was free to walk into any and all venues.

With events distributed throughout the cities of LA and Long Beach and an overriding ethos of inclusion, organizers determined that the best way to ensure safety was to rely on both video surveillance and boots-on-the-ground officers for situational awareness.

Their physical security deployment featured a huge video wall as well as monitoring hubs in UCLA, Long Beach, USC, Los Angeles Convention Center, and a specifically dedicated hub for sporting centers and event areas. Being able to supervise distributed systems from a single location was important for effectively securing and monitoring every one of the events. To do this and bring everything together, the organizers of LA2015 relied on Federation-as-a-Service (FaaS) from Genetec.

How Federation-as-a-Service helps

FaaS is a cloud-enabled solution that allows organizations to choose between implementing either a hybrid deployment that leverages their existing infrastructure or a fully cloud-based system that hosts all their applications, servers, and archives. With it, organizations are able to essentially connect with other physical security systems in a given area. This results in a larger extended system that gives law enforcement and security personnel a complete view of a situation or area.

For LA2015, security personnel had a direct view of what was happening and, because they were working with FaaS, they were also able to pull video from partners around the various locations. This helped ensure that the command post was operating efficiently and with a comprehensive view at all times. In turn, security personnel was able to respond to events and incidents with a clear understanding of the situation.

The ability to access video footage from partners required developing relationships with local businesses and organization. This was made easier because organizers were able to control system access and maintain privacy on camera. Ultimately, working with FaaS facilitated collaboration both at a technological and community level.

All of this adds up to some great lessons for organizers in Pyeongchang, South Korea, especially as this will be the first Winter Olympics to have all their critical systems in the cloud. And, with security ready for the event, the rest of us can get ready to help our athletes get across that finish line.

To find out more about Federation-as-a-Service, read our feature note.

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