2016 Rio Olympics: A golden opportunity for Security

By 1st September 2016News

This year has seen a number of significant international sporting events drawing crowds from all over the world; none more so than the Rio Olympics. With the Olympics come considerable security issues for any nation. However, the biggest news story throughout the season was that of safety at the games. Brazil is known for having issues with crime and violence especially in the ‘favelas’ close to the newly constructed stadiums. The whole Olympics were spread widely around the city raising concern about the security of contestants and spectators as they travelled between sites.


Making such a large area safe requires implementation of new technologies and much careful consideration. For the games some 85000 personnel were on hand, and the overall security budget was an estimated $895 million.


Officials sought a video surveillance solution to monitor areas inside and around the Olympic Park and other stadia. This project required cameras that could produce high definition (HD) images, and could support video analytics, for monitoring events with a high flow of foot traffic. Subsequently 1823 units of high-resolution IP, dome, and 30x optical zoom pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras were used.


Even with the added security and the latest technology, several incidents had occurred that begs the question as to how effective it really was at the games. With numerous incidents  of athletes, team members and spectators being robbed, as well as murders  and shoot outs occurring in the city, what lessons can be learned from these games when you are organising an event?




Your event may not – probably isn’t – on the scale of the Olympics but many of the principles still apply. Planning your security strategy needs to have plenty of consideration as to where you are going to invest. You need to keep people safe while on your premises. Review your video surveillance equipment; is it adequate or is now the time to invest in more advanced technology? Chances are you will not require face recognition in dense crowds but you may want high quality cameras at entrance points to your events. The latest CCTV cameras with video analytics may be advanced, but they are only as good as their operator so make sure you find someone who is fully trained in their usage.


The amount of physical security needs to be carefully assessed. You need to make sure all entrances and exits are secured, with potential regular patrols around the event area. Your personnel should be well trained and have their current license and you will need to audit how many people you will need. You would also need to consider re-enforcing any weak areas in fencing or physical deterrents such as wall spikes. Although much of this would seem like common sense, one weakness could severely damage your security strategy and could lead to intruders gaining access.



During the run up to the games the Foreign Office released an official statement warning any visitors to the games that crime in Brazil is at a high level and for people to take extra precautions at all times to ensure their safety. You will not want to send out such a message to your attendees if you want to ensure people come; but in-house staff knowing the risks is vitally important to security. By law you are required to carry out a risk assessment. Ensure this is done in good time so you can address anything that is highlighted as an area of concern. The old adage remains true ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.




Like any business or event, effective management makes the whole system run smoothly and communication remains key to that success. Make sure all staff involved know their role and if they should watch out for anything in particular. Keep a clear and consistent line of communication and it will lessen the chances of any failings or mistakes in your security.


Also if the event is scheduled for any significant length of time you must also manage the rotation of your personnel so as to keep up your standards and lessen the chances of mistakes or intrusion. Carefully schedule breaks and shift changes to ensure that cover is available where and when appropriate. Certain events require 24 hour security so be prepared to call in extra people to help in your event.



Remember that no matter the size or scale of the event you are in charge of, these steps will help ensure that it is a safe environment and everything will go as smoothly as possible. The Rio games managed to run smoothly even though there were definite security risks. The forethought and planning that went before it helped make a dangerous city safer.

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