On the convergence of physical and digital security for public safety at Olympic events

Johnson, C.W. (2008) On the convergence of physical and digital security for public safety at Olympic events. In: Simmons, R.J., Mohan, D.J. and Mullane, M. (eds.) Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on System Safety. International System Safety Society. ISBN 0972138587

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It is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the digital and physical systems that protect public safety at Olympic events. In the past, computer networks were used primarily to store results and to coordinate logistics for major sporting competitions. They carried relatively limited information about the direct physical security of spectators and participants. However, the Athens games began to use digital infrastructures to carry images from surveillance cameras using the MPEG4 format across Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switches. The Beijing Olympics will introduce sophisticated monitoring algorithms including facial recognition and pattern detection in public places. There are also plans to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and the Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor diverse aspects of the Games, including the physical movements of spectators and athletes. The intention behind these initiatives is to direct physical security teams against international and domestic threats that range from Islamic terrorists though to environmental protestors. The following pages identify a number of concerns about the integrity of these systems. Previous physical attacks at Munich and Atlanta have shown the importance of preparing for contingencies including direct attacks on the security infrastructure. Reported threats from employees or sub-contractors against the Turin networks illustrate further concerns over digital security. All of this must be placed in the context of increasing complexity both in terms of the Games themselves and in terms of the diverse computational systems that must be integrated to protect public safety. It remains to be seen whether the planning teams for Vancouver (2010) and London (2012) have learned the lessons that previous failures in physical security provide for the development of digital security at Olympic events.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnson, Professor Chris
Authors: Johnson, C.W.
Subjects:Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Publisher:International System Safety Society
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