Security Experts Hope New Stadium Measures Can Stop Violence

CSE takes a look at the philosophy behind securing very visible stadiums that are the would-be targets of terrorists.

In the wake of the Athens Olympic games, where the U.S. women's team took gold in soccer, and the exciting European Cup, in which Greece upset the competition, CSE thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the philosophy behind securing these very visible stadiums that are the would-be targets of both terrorists and another European plague--soccer hooligans. Following is an interview with Jens Wegmann (pictured at left), division head of security systems for Zurich-based Siemens Building Technologies Group. SBT provided the security systems for Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens (pictured on p. 46), as well as for multiple stadiums in Portugal for the European Cup. The company is also presently working on stadium security measures for the upcoming World Cup games in Germany.

The following Q&A tackles issues specific to stadium security as well as major differences between U.S. and European security measures.

Q: What, if any, are the major differences in European vs. American security systems?

A: Security functions are globally based on the same technologies, e.g., access control, intrusion detection, video systems and central monitoring station (CMS) systems. That said, Europe did start implementing security functions into its business processes earlier, instead of running parallel activities. This is one of the reasons why smart cards like Mifare were introduced in Europe much earlier than in the U.S.

Q: In the same vein, but more specific to stadiums, were there any differences from what you did at, say, Dragao Stadium in Porto (one of the host stadiums for the European Cup) and Reliant Stadium in Houston?

A: Generally in the U.S., the turnkey approach is highly accepted due to the benefits of one-stop project management. In Europe that translates into "commercial integration" where technical integration plays a much higher role. So based on technical integration, in Europe a solution provider will also be a partner for life-cycle operations.

Q: If you could, give our readers a brief overview of the security system highlights in the Euro Cup and Olympic stadiums.

A: Basically, it's a system solution consisting of access control of guests, VIPs and employees, video surveillance and perimeter control. All information collected is displayed, managed and supported by a rules database for command and control of resources by a command-center system.

Q: Anything in these projects that's really on the cutting edge?

A: Smart card handling, audio, video and data communication to support decision-making in a central control room. The communication backbone is also part of the application solution and carries the process signals: data, video and audio.

Q: A big part of SBT's mission is system integration. Can you describe how security interacts with building automation, HVAC, life safety, etc.?

A: We follow the physical rules. In case of a fire alarm, all "normal" reactions of such a system are a must, but access control must also enable escape routes--opening and closing the right doors/gates--positioning the right cameras, triggering, recording and steering the climate control to operate the blowers to bring oxygen to people, and to stop blowing it into areas affected by fire. But the other important consideration involves merging the particular electronic security solution with sophisticated IT security based on high-speed networks, capable of handling large amounts of data. The need for data storage will go up with the increase of digital video and biometrics applications.

Q: At SBT's international press forum in London this summer, you gave a security presentation where one of the things that really struck me was the proactive approach to security and sporting events--getting people to buy tickets online for better crowd control; scanning the crowds for known "hooligans" who might be in a database; and working with police to scan for terrorists. Can you go into some detail as to how security evolved to this point?

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