Friday, July 20, 2012

Shielding Olympic Dreams: Security at the 2012 London Games

London is bustling as athletes, trainers, reporters, and spectators pour in for the 2012 Olympic games starting this month.  The city has been preparing to host the 2012 Olympic Games since mid 2005 when London was announced to be the winning bidder.  The need for security in London has been an integral part of these preparations, especially considering the lethal subway bombings that pounded London the very next day after the bid announcement.
Security won’t be cheap for the 2012 Olympics: estimates for security costs top $1.6 billion.  This enormous cost is partially due to concerns that didn’t exist in previous Olympics.  In addition to defending against terrorist attacks and violent crowds that are a threat at nearly any major sporting event, Olympic organizers are even planning to defend against cyber-attacks that could upend athletic events and programs.
Security efforts started long ago for the 2012 Olympics. source
An incredible amount of manpower is also going to protect against dirty bombs – small explosive devices containing dispersible radioactive material.  As one expert involved in London security stated, “The main risk is radioactive materials which may be used to contaminate an area or combined with conventional explosives to create a so-called ‘dirty bomb.”1  This type of easy-to-construct bombs could be extremely disruptive to any event. The fear of contamination brought on by a dirty bomb could shut down a venue for years.  The risk is all too real at this point in preparation: a fake bomb was smuggled into the main Olympic stadium on construction equipment only one day before the official opening.
Photo on the london2012 site describing security measures at the games
 To mitigate bomb fears, Olympic organizers are turning to strength in technology.  2,700 airport-type scanners are being brought in to check over crowds of over 200,000 that are expected to attend every day.  Covert scanners will also be employed to check for threats day and night.  Some of these scanners are expected to be built into pillars around the Olympic complex.2  
So as the stadiums fill in just a few short weeks, we won’t be the only ones watching with baited breath to see who comes out victorious.  We wish not only those performing, but also those protecting, the best of luck.
D-tect Systems is a supplier of advanced radiation and chemical detection equipment sold around the world.