Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop

Resolving the Paradox of Having a Good Spectator Experience in a Safe Environment

Mr. Kent Schneider, Northrop Grumman

Mr. Kent Schneider, President
Northrop Grumman Information Technology Global

Mr. Kent Schneider, President of Northrop Grumman Information Technology Global.

"...the solution is to leverage existing systems. A lot of technology...monitors the movement of people internationally,
everything from travel manifests to associated criminal terrorist databases. There is...surveillance capability
that can be appled...without infringing on people’s rights. It is going to be very important, however,
to link this capability to existing financial and transportation systems..."

It is inevitable that, as we talk about global security, we are going to be focused mainly on the Middle East and south Asia. We are going to talk a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan, so I thought I’d talk here about a different scenario that embraces all of the issues associated with the variety of threats we face today, a true international problem. That is the Olympics, and I am going to discuss the 2012 London Olympics and the preparation that is going on there, though I think my points could be applied to any of the Olympic games. In fact we might be able to get General Zhan to share a little bit about what is going on with the Olympic games that are coming up in 2008 in Beijing. 


            Preparing for and holding the London Olympics is truly an exercise in counter-terrorism over a six-week period. The games will be held in a very vibrant city that already has a number of security issues. There are about 23,000 events requiring public safety that take place in London on a regular day. That number goes up if any of the local sports teams happens to lose on a given day, and you can imagine what happens when the Olympics are held. And events involve many people, from athletes to the media to Olympic officials to government officials to service workers—all the many people it takes not only to make an Olympics happen but to support all the people who attend as well as watch on television. For the 2012 London Olympics, 9 million tickets will be issued, to give you some sense of scale. 

The Threats

            The current threat profile is very broad based, and extends from cyber-threats to physical threats, both direct and indirect. One possibility during the London Olympics is that the power grid could be taken down, which is not as difficult as you might think. We have profiled and modeled some major regional power grids—we looked at one in the U.S. at the request of the local homeland security officials and found that we were able to bring the entire power grid down in 12 1/2 minutes. There are also chemical, biological, radiological, and public health threats to consider as well as the normal criminal element that is always present.

The People and Venues

            There is also a very broad set of players: the military is involved as well as national homeland security, the resilient forces, as they refer to it in the U.K., public safety, health, Olympic officials, and a myriad local government personnel. Adding to the challenge in London is that the games will be held over a widely dispersed area. The Olympic park and the Olympic village will be in East London down near the docks and the venues will be spread out around central London, some inside and some outside the orbital. For those of you who are familiar with Washington D.C., think about having the Olympic park and the Olympic village in Anacostia and then having the events taking place all around the beltway, some inside and some outside, with some 27 local jurisdictions housing venues. You can see how complex that would be. You can also imagine how gathering intelligence and controlling operations there would be very similar to what you would experience in a military theater of operations.

            As far as the environment goes, there will be about 200,000 people involved in holding the Olympics, from officials to service workers to Olympic staff, volunteers, concession workers, and athletes, plus the 9 million spectators. And there are actually two back-to-back events—the Olympics are held, then there is about a week’s break, and then the Para-Olympics are held, which is why the games stretch out over a six-week period. A balance must be struck as always between providing security and providing an environment that is respectful of individuals’ rights and cultural heritage while adhering to local law, Olympic policy, and international law, for both individuals and data.


            Certainly we are starting to see more technology being applied to the Olympics. For the Beijing Olympics, more technology is being applied than ever before, which General Zhan may wish to comment on. Obviously everyone has high hopes that the additional technology will have a positive impact on security. Certainly London wants to leverage what is happening for Beijing and for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. To smooth this process New Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner for central operations has had added to his portfolio all special events and dignitary protection and is being made a security lead for the 2012 Olympics. The idea is that by developing capability around special events for the next five years, by 2012 the Olympics will be just one really big special and the wherewithal to provide security and to do what needs to be done will be available.  


            Despite improved technology, you can probably see that providing security is less about technology than it is about how you govern the process, the rules you put in place, and how you oversee those rules. It is also about intelligence—intelligence in the same sense as we apply it in a military environment. A program is being developed now in the U.K. called e-Borders, which is an effort to provide advanced warning of the arrival of people at border crossings so that data can be checked, backgrounds can be checked, and manifests can be applied against criminal and terrorist databases for a better basis for border crossings. As you can imagine, there are huge problems with data mining, data fusion, and situational awareness when large numbers of people cross a border in a very short period. So we are beginning to work on these kinds of programs now, but again you have to balance providing security against respecting data protection rights and all those kinds of things. There are real challenges from both a legal and a cultural standpoint.


            There are also huge surveillance problems, and the U.K. is dealing with them by using a variety of existing sensors and adding some sensors.  London is perhaps the most monitored city in the world. There are 78,000 public domain closed-circuit television cameras in London today, and that does not count those in department stores. If you remember the July 7th bombings, you’ll remember how quickly you saw a video of the perpetrators on TV, which is because of the very extensive surveillance system in London. They are trying to put more intelligence behind that surveillance now, but more surveillance is also needed in other areas. A lot of vehicles will be moving in and out of the Olympics area so it will be necessary to have some kind of surveillance done on vehicles’ contents as well as the vehicles themselves. There is also a need for chemical, biological, and radiological sensors and testing and for ways of tracking people.

            I can tell you today that no one has any idea who is actually sitting in a sports venue at any given moment. A new soccer stadium was just opened in London and one of the things that concerns people there is that while they know who buys the tickets they have no idea who actually sits in the seats. One of the ideas for the London Olympics is to issue essentially a master ticket to everyone who arrives. That ticket would be a smart card tied to biometrics that would then be encoded with the tickets that people buy and with transportation tokens, and people could also use the card to make purchases. This would allow us not only to understand the flow of people through the Olympic venues but actually know people by name—who is where, when, which entrance the person went in through, the exit the person left from, the transportation he or she took. You can see the obvious advantage of this system if a sports venue turns into a crime scene.

            Such a process is in the works, but how can you network so that the process can be operated in a very timely way across the very wide venue area? The answer, of course, is a federated system very much like the one used in the financial world today. When you go to an ATM or you process a credit card, the standard for the transaction is five seconds end to end. We need that same kind of performance metric in a widespread identity management system, and it can be done—we build those kinds of systems. But the issue is the network. When you have a very widely distributed arrangement like the London Olympics, how can you extend the network?

            A lot of work is being done right now looking at both wired and wireless networks. A whole new family of secure wide-band wireless networks is emerging around the world whose capability London will need. The city has a wireless system now but it is a very narrow-band system—some kind of wide-band overlay will be needed. Very much like in a theater of operations, there are narrow-band and wide-band systems and the ability to move information where you need it. The Olympics are going to have a combination of surveillance measures, data that needs to be moved, command and control information that needs to be moved, and a whole body of identity-related information that will provide awareness of how and where people are moving.


            What are the overall requirements? Vetting and role-based access will be needed for the Olympics family. For example you don’t want people going into venues for which they are not authorized—you don’t want people going into the Olympic village if they are not athletes, for instance. So every member of the Olympics family, those 200,000 people I talked about earlier, will go through a background check and be issued a smart card based on a variety of multi-modal biometrics. Then those cards will be used to provide role-based access to networks and venues both on a cyber basis and a physical basis. A less robust system will be used to track spectators—the current thinking is that kiosks will be used to enroll people in a process to link their master ticket to a couple of biometrics, though issues are still being worked out regarding exactly which combination of biometrics. Right now the thought is to use a digital photograph and a fingerprint, although in some cultures facial photographs are an issue, so perhaps two fingerprints or a fingerprint and an iris scan may be used.

            It is very important to set up a system that will facilitate throughput while at the same time provide necessary security—if people don’t get into a venue until the event is half over, then the system has failed. Tickets need to be controlled through the identity-management system to prevent misuse. Obviously scalping will be a big issue, as it is at any sports event, but scalping will be more difficult if we have a biometrics-based card that houses the ticket. It will be very hard to pass that off to somebody else. 

            Transportation tokens will be used as well. Current thinking is to take the oyster card that is used today for the London Underground, extend it to other methods of transportation, and then embed that token on the master card. The idea is that the card could be used for service trains, buses, the Underground, even for taxis if you put the readers there. Of course, we want to eliminate the need for cash, not only to speed up processing but also because we would then be able to monitor activity such as the consumption of alcohol across the Olympic venues.

            The idea is to do all of these things and still make the Olympics an enjoyable experience. Obviously, in order to do that, we need to have a kind of in-the-background process that does not affect the individual experience. That is doable in terms of technology, though obviously there are some associated cultural and legal issues that need to be worked through.


            The U.K. might be a unique environment in this regard because its citizens have historically been willing to submit to things that many other NATO countries would never tolerate. I already mentioned the 78,000 closed-circuit TV cameras. You can’t scratch your head in London without it being recorded on at least two cameras. But in addition to that, if you are arrested in the U.K., whether it leads to a conviction or not, a DNA sample is taken and it is not given back, even if you are not convicted. For a traffic stop, your fingerprints are taken whether or not you get a ticket, and they are not given back afterwards. We run the biometrics database for the U.K. and the numbers in that database are climbing very quickly because they can be collected under circumstances that most other NATO countries would not tolerate. I know that in the U.S., for example, people simply would never be willing to submit to that kind of thing, but in the U.K. they are willing to do it because New Scotland Yard has demonstrated an ability to solve crimes almost in TV time. You saw a recent example of that with the July 7th bombings, which were solved very quickly, though, interestingly, the U.K. citizenry was critical of the way the bombing were handled and felt they should have been solved quicker than they were. There is a trade-off in the U.K. between being willing to submit more information than others and receiving in return some very effective policing. Now the question is, Can you extend that to the Olympics, with people from many places? Will those people be willing to submit to the same level of scrutiny that U.K. citizens do?


            The information-sharing requirements across this very complex environment are also very difficult. As I said, it is really a problem of data mining, data fusion, and situational awareness, things that we do in the military environment all the time but that here involve different numbers of players and data that is subject to privacy laws—security personnel would like to have information on people’s travel into the country, they’d like to know where people are staying, they’d like to know the transportation they take. Gathering that information, pulling it together, and then applying it to security for the Olympics will be a challenge.

            To summarize, I think the solution is to leverage existing systems. A lot of technology is out there today that monitors the movement of people internationally, everything from travel manifests to associated criminal terrorist databases. There is also a lot of surveillance capability that can be applied to the problem effectively and without infringing on people’s rights. It is going to be very important, however, to link this capability to existing financial and transportation systems, because that is where efficiency lies for the kinds of transaction rates we are talking about. 

            Situational awareness is going to be a challenge, and it is already being tested. As an example, a data-fusion situational awareness pilot is being conducted in conjunction with the Wimbledon tennis tournament this year as a way to see how effective it can be and where the gaps are, both in intelligence and in operations. 




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