Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London Olympic 2012 Security and the Mysterious Woman leading the Indian Contingent

Hosting an event like the Olympics’ requires a large number of security personnel to operate x-ray machines, search vehicles and stand guard at venues. For the London 2012 Olympics over 10,000 personnel required to be recruited and trained to prevent theft, activism and unruly activity. Mobilizing an enormous workforce via temporary recruits or volunteers is an expensive affair for short events, which usually results in poor or hurried training of personnel, and inadequate background checks. It is not possible to recruit well in advance due to the large numbers and need to contain staff costs. It may be said that the temporary workforce is used more for mitigation of risks rather than removal of it, with the prime responsibilities for security resting on the more qualified forces such as police and military and their use of a defense in depth security cordon to protect athletes and people in venues.

When I read about the mysterious woman who walked alongside flag bearer Sushil Kumar in red track top, blue pants and sneaker smiling, waving and soaking in the moment as the Indian contingent walked the track it indicated a brazen gate crash into what should have been considered the inner sanctum of the security perimeter.  

In this case, it turned out to be a protocol breach. An over eager Indian student volunteer taking up the opportunity to walk with the team. But it also indicated a large failure of the security apparatus, volunteer training and supervision of volunteers. The same security vulnerability could have been exploited by terrorists for malicious ends.

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