The Security of Champions

When it came time to secure the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, organizers knew they could not afford to play games. Long before jets were reducing monolithic buildings to rubble and Americans were brutally awakened to the palpable threat of terrorism, plans were in motion to make these Games the safest ever. How true that will prove to be in the wake Sept. 11 remains to be seen.

Security has been a top priority for host cities of the Olympics ever since 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed by Palestinians during the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, Germany. The necessity to further tighten security was made tragically evident when a bomb killed two people and injured 111 at Olympic Centennial Park during the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

More than $300 million is being spent to safeguard the Salt Lake City Games—making it the most highly protected sporting event of all time. That figure would be even greater if not for the contributions of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sensormatic Electronics Corp., Official Electronic Security Sponsor of the Olympics.

Sensormatic, which was recently purchased by Tyco, is exclusively supplying access control, video surveillance, asset protection, remote video transmission and asset tagging and tracking systems in 35 spectator, nonspectator and support venues.

The company is supplying one thread of a multifaceted security tapestry that includes the efforts of Olympics officials, local law enforcement, other suppliers and contractors, and a host of state and federal agencies. The coordination of these organizations, the cold climate, the rugged terrain and the event’s transitory nature were some of the many hurdles that had to be cleared in order to keep the drama confined to the athletic competition.

Using Manpower, Electronics to Their Greatest Effect

Basic planning and work related to the Salt Lake City Games began in earnest several years ago. In 2000, an electronic security committee was formed with representatives from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC), the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC), the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). The group developed a philosophy of augmenting available law enforcement resources with electronic security, and a strategy of how that could best be accomplished.

Nearly 10,000 military, state and local law enforcement personnel will be involved in protecting athletes and spectators. In addition, 2,000 Utah National Guard members are on call.

Many of those officers as well as some military personnel will be positioned well away from the whooshing sounds of skiers and skaters. Additional manpower and electronic security precautions have been implemented in and around Salt Lake City, including monitoring airspace, airports, freeways, chemical plants and schools.

With so many organizations involved in planning and protecting the Olympics, getting everyone on the same page has been perhaps the single greatest challenge.

Directive No. 1: Establishing a Tight Perimeter

The basic strategy hinges on establishing a perimeter around each Olympic venue and then having the grounds sanitized (a process in which law enforcement sweeps the venue for items they deem as threats). Thereafter, any item—including vehicles—or person entering the venue must pass through magnetometers (metal detectors) and/or X-ray units. Also, all bags will be searched.

At some of the venues, such as Utah Olympic Park, where the bobsledding, luge and ski jumping competition will be held, physical perimeter security like fencing is impractical. This makes electronic security and manpower even more critical.

To facilitate the observation capabilities of Olympic officials and security staff throughout the venues, Sensormatic installed hundreds of CCTV cameras. The surveillance systems are the centerpiece of its contributions.

Cameras Provide Safety Inside, Outside Venues

By the time the first puck hits the ice, Sensormatic will have installed 250 pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) dome cameras and 250 fixed cameras, most of them mounted on existing poles along the perimeter of the venues. UOPSC personnel will handle video-monitoring chores, while all the images will be stored on digital video recorders (DVRs) equipped with 180GB hard drives.

The moveable dome cameras can be programmed to search out preset targets. Each DVR features built-in multiplexing and is capable of simultaneously storing video from up to 16 cameras.

A crucial obstacle was finding a method for transmitting signals from the cameras, many of which were in isolated or remote locations. The answer was fiber optics.

Many of the cameras are providing additional functionality beyond security. Olympic officials and judges are using them to make the events themselves safer and run more smoothly.

Strict Access System Even Keeps Installers Out

To control when and if who or what enters the venues, access control measures had to be implemented. To gain access to larger areas, such as Olympic Park, a person must either have a ticket or an Olympic accreditation, which includes the person’s photograph and functions as a work pass. However, entering competition areas within the venues requires a proximity access card.

All told, more than 3,000 access cards will be issued. In addition to the proximity cards and readers, Sensormatic is deploying biometrics technology to protect the Olympic medals for O.C. Tanner Co.

The final access control measure is the one Sensormatic is best known for—electronic article surveillance (EAS) anti-theft systems. The company is using its expertise to help curtail shoplifting at retail outlets, such as the 100,000-square-foot Olympic Square Super Store. Merchandise is being tagged with ink tags that stain goods if they are not properly removed.

Alarms Trigger Cameras to View, Record Areas

Although Sensormatic concentrated its efforts on sophisticated CCTV and access control, the installations also included intrusion alarm systems. Most of the venues are using a mixture of third-party manufactured glassbreak and motion detectors and door contacts.

What makes these ordinary alarm devices unique is how they are being integrated. The alarms feed into a wide-area network (WAN) and, in some instances, are tied to cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) so that, when an alarm occurs, the cameras are automatically pointed to the area in question and the incident is automatically recorded.

Cold, Snowy Conditions Wreak Havoc on Crews

Aside from finding a way to get the seemingly endless array of parties to agree on the arrangements, one of the most difficult aspects of the Salt Lake City installation was its frigid climate.

Since the Olympics are a special, temporary event, another impediment is that most of the venues are ordinarily used for other activities and cannot be accessed until shortly before the onset of the Games. In some cases, installers are faced with less than a week to install equipment.

Sponsorship Is Its Own Reward, But a Marketing Boost Is Nice, Too

Monetarily speaking, Sensormatic’s sponsorship role in the Olympics is a costly one. However, the company reaps tangible dividends through publicity generation and less tangible ones such as goodwill inside and outside of the company. Sensormatic is also the Official Electronic Security Sponsor of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.

Ultimately, only history will tell how successful all of the planning, dollars, manpower and well wishing will be in pulling off a smoothly executed, trouble-free 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. However, optimism preceding the event was high, with participants pumped to “Go for the Gold!”

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