The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to 23. This Olympic cycle, the excitement about the games has been dampened by concerns about terrorist attacks. The Washington Post reports that three suicide bombings have rocked Russia since October 15, and that the Olympics may be a target for more violent plots.
Amid these security concerns, Russian and Olympic officials have deployed a variety of high-tech tools to keep competitors and spectators safe. Here’s what you need to know about security tech at the Sochi games.
1. Sochi Will Deploy Military-Grade Technology
In addition to these patrols, CSO Online reports that officials will also be relying on a bit of technology from Israeli security firm NICE Systems (Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering).
According to Bill Besse, vice president of consulting and investigations for Andrews International LLC, NICE offers the officials a way to view real-time security data from surveillance systems, restricted area access systems, radio communications, phone calls and more. Officials can see this information, and then decide what course of action to take.
2. Multiple Layers of Security Tech Exist
As David Herszenhorn of the New York Times discusses in the video above, Russia has a lot at stake at Sochi. Perhaps that’s why the Sochi security checks are so comprehensive. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that visitors to Sochi will have to go through full body scanners at both the airport and the entrance to the Olympic Park complex. Anyone going through the airport will be scanned multiple times by metal detectors, and will also have their face scanned by facial recognition software.
3. Russia Plans to Monitor All Social Media & Communications
According to The Guardian, Russia will be using “newly installed telephone and Internet spying capabilities” to monitor social media posts, chats and emails. Russia uses a system called Sorm (System for Operative Investigative Activities) to monitor both web and phone activity.
CSO Online adds that DPI packet inspection technology will be used by the Russians to intercept any conversation that takes place over Wi-Fi.
4. Russia Turned Down American Security Tech
IOC member Anita DeFrantz on security at the Sochi Olympics: The Russians know what they're doing in the Caucasus. http://t.co/GT3FThy2qE
— Sam Walker (@SamWalkers) January 29, 2014
New York Daily News reports that House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) has some reservations about the way Russia is dealing with terrorist threats. He revealed that the Russians were offered some American technology that could block the types of signals used to activate improvised explosive devices, but the Russians declined the offer.
McCaul told reporters, “The one sense you get in Russia is a sense of nationalist pride. They do not want the U.S. to come in and tell them how to do security at their Olympic Games.”
5. The IOC Will Treat Sochi Like the Post-9/11 Salt Lake Games
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 23, 2014
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach compares the heightened security at Sochi to the tension at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which were the first Olympic games after 9/11. The 2002 games were notable as the first Olympics where a database was used to do an “instant check on foreign visitors.”
ABC News quoted Bach, who told reporters, “In Salt Lake City there were thousands of security people around the place and people still felt fine…I think the security forces can operate in a way that doesn’t affect the atmosphere.”