Technology essential to police London Olympics

The security coordinator for the London 2012 Olympics has submitted a paper to the House of Lords Select Committee outlining the “fundamental issue that has risen related to the use of technology and data systems” to support security at the event.

Aug 23, 2007
By David Howell

The security coordinator for the London 2012 Olympics has submitted a paper to the House of Lords Select Committee outlining the “fundamental issue that has risen related to the use of technology and data systems” to support security at the event.

“In order to appreciate the security requirement, it is important to have an understanding of the sheer scale and complexity involved in putting such an event together,” said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur.

Following a consultation process with police partners, stakeholders and customers, Mr Ghaffur’s paper states: “Should the UK threat level remain severe, then we will not be in a position to provide sufficient human resources to mitigate any such threat.”

He added that therefore, the police service will be reliant on technology to provide some of the capacity required.

Mr Ghaffur said he is ensuring that venue sites are “secured by design”, that security commences at the concept stage and is incorporated into the physical construction.

To widen an existing security perimeter, Mr Ghaffur said the use of existing technologies, such as CCTV and ANPR, “must be maximised across a broader area, forming a London-wide technology footprint”.

Mr Ghaffur’s paper highlights plans to explore how technology can assist in linking border entry, travel, accommodation and ticket data, through the use of knowledge databases.

“This will undoubtedly require the availability of large amounts of data, a significant proportion of which will be personal information,” he said.

He added that the subsequent impact on privacy is a “key concern” and it is therefore important that the right checks and balances are in place.

The police already make use of third party data for intelligence purposes, a public/private partnership that Mr Ghaffur said allows “much easier integration to support the security approach”.

He warned any shift away from the current position would “seriously undermine the security and public safety effort, both in the run-up to, and during, the Olympic Games”.

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