Transportation Security Challenges

Dec 15, 2007

Of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver

After meeting Mark Camillo at a recent Conference Board of Canada event covering the Transportation Security Challenges of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, FrontLine Security’s Executive Editor, Clive Addy, contacted him again in Washington for a more in-depth ­discussion of his insights on this topic. His ­extensive experience in these matters provides an objective view of the security challenges facing Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver... and beyond.

Light traffic on the Louis Gate Bridge, Vancouver.

Mark, our readers have some idea of your past experience with Olympic events, but what brought you to examine our 2010 Vancouver Olympics from a Security perspective?
Well, as you know, I was called upon to observe preparations for several Olympic events prior to my own work on the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. For instance, I was privileged to visit the police in New South Wales and see them prepare for and handle the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. I also had the pleasure, in 2001 and 2002, to host liaison teams from your RCMP at our winter Olympics and discuss security preparations even before Vancouver was chosen for 2010.

I have worked very closely with, and maintained personal and professional relationships with the Mounties – I have great ­respect for them.

Because of my experience, I was invited to address the Conference Board of Canada. I ­travelled to Vancouver in preparation for this presentation, and spent time with ­colleagues and former associates who are currently engaged in the Olympic planning operation in Vancouver. With their assistance, I conducted a broad assessment, focused on the public transportation security challenges that Vancouver and its Olympic Committee will have to face. In November, I presented my conclusions to the very knowledgeable audience at the Conference Board, where I believe they were well received.

What, then, is involved in securing winter Olympics generally?
First, there is the reality of the Olympics, be they winter or summer. After Beijing, the Olympic spotlight will shine on Canada and Vancouver in 2010. During the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Para­lympics, upwards of 3 billion people will be watching Canada, BC, the venues and the city of Vancouver for approximately 60 days while being fed daily reports to their homes from over 10,000 on-site media (at a minimum) from the 80 or more competing countries.

Nordic Alpine Ski Venue at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Mark Camillo is an internationally-recognized law enforcement and security professional, with exceptional expertise in the area of major event security. He served as a Special Agent in the U.S. Secret Service where he completed a distinguised 21-year career that included three seperate assignments at the White House. Mr. Camillo held several key positions during his career in major event planning, but the most notable was being appointed the Olympic Coordinator for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. The successful execution of this carefully designed preparedness and prevention plan was later identified by the White House Office of Homeland Security as an excellent model for future security designs at Events of National Significance. Mr. Camillo merited the distinction as an Olympic Security Expert, evidenced by invitations to address audiences internationally and at home that included U.S. Senate testimony. He is currently with Lockheed Martin Corporation's Transportation & Security Solutions.

Regrettably, this offers a very attractive venue to those wishing to use this opportunity to further their cause through public violence as has been the case since the Munich Olympics. You cannot afford to give terrorists of any stripe the podium of this size for any significant amount of time. Security must be comprehensive, persistent, resilient and reassuring.

Second, there is the winter or alpine nature of these games. One example of the logistical challenge planners face is the need for lodging. Housing spectators, media and visitors close to the venues is an inherent problem. Unlike major metropolitan cities, regions hosting Winter Olympics usually lack an abundance of nearby accommodations. Security personnel, along with their equipment, also require housing and warehousing during the Games.

Third, security agencies will have the overarching responsibility to secure official Olympic venues and simultaneously maintain a strong public safety presence in the nearby communities. The security operation doesn’t stop there either. Systems and infrastructure critical to supporting routine vital needs – like power, water and medical care – will require special attention. Com­mu­nities rely on these 24/7 operations.

When the total security requirement is viewed, and matched against locally available assets, bringing support in from outside the region will be a likely option. I anticipate this being done carefully and efficiently in order to avoid the risk of creating public safety gaps elsewhere for upwards of 60 days. We are talking about an outside need for a workforce augmentation as well as equipment.

May 2007 - This photo shows the close proximity of vehicular traffic to the SkyTrain extensions being built overhead to handle additional transportation loads in the Vancouver area during the Games. The Canada Line, still under construction, will connect Richmond (south of Vancouver) to the existing SkyTrain system in Vancouver, including to the airport. Billed as the world's longest automated light rapid transit system, it presently runs from Vancouver to Surrey. Running on electricity, SkyTrain is emission-free and energy efficient. (Photo: Chris MacLean)

What are the threats as you see them and what, after your visit to Vancouver, do you consider we must work on most?
We can expect that any threats will continue to be monitored and addressed by the appropriate agencies as the games approach. I suspect that, with international cooperation, Canadian agencies will feed the Olympic security coordination network. For the security to be comprehensive, persistent and resilient, this network must reach all involved in security, at all venues – and the network must be protected from cyber attacks and power outages. The greatest threat, however, to a successful games security plan is the potential for complacency among authorities, participants and/or spectators, with respect to being watchful and reporting unusual occurrences or incidents. Everyone plays such an important part in the information network in these major events and must be made calmly and plainly aware of their importance and how to contribute to safer games. This takes sound planning and clear information.

There will be close to 3,000 athletes, 25,000-30,000 volunteers, one to two million visitors, and more than 130 competitive and non-competitive events. Achieving a common operational picture is possible by fusing real-time situational awareness with the multiple data domains. This provides decision makers with immediate and complete information that allows them to make informed decisions when time is of essence.

What about training before the event, particularly on recovery and resiliency?
To achieve the necessary level of this specialized type of security, there must be prior and on-site training of security personnel. One effective approach by proactive Olympic security planners is to use tabletop exercises prior to the Olympics to test, among other things, contingencies when responding to security incidents. These must start early in the planning process, and I am confident that they will.

Another aspect of the training requirement is special training for those on special assignment from other parts of Canada. This can be complicated by the incremental ­reporting of personnel. Skill sets that apply to alpine environments are not universally held in law enforcement. Can they ski, snowshoe, operate a snowmobile? Are they familiar with selected communication equip­ment? All this takes time and considerable planning within the security planning team.

What about financing and cooperation between private and public stakeholders?
As explained by VANOC, the lead organizing committee, there are worldwide partners, national partners, government partners (at all levels), aboriginal partners and sport partners. In my view, it is virtually impossible at the outset to establish an accurate security budget for such things as Olympic games. The variables of threat, weather, workforce needs, and physical infrastructure are such that a ­recurring ­annual analysis is the optimal approach, assuming of course it is endorsed and embraced by the appropriators.

The partners here can play a gigantic role. Historically, Olympic sponsors have secured themselves though private sector resources integrated in the overall security plan and awareness network. The private commuter police at Translink might be one example to examine. This may be a good approach for other partners to consider.

I believe that the original estimates for security were somewhat conservative, but I do feel that the need, whatever it is, will be met through a combination of private-public cooperation that sees Canada put its best foot forward to a ensure safe, secure and successful event.

Are there any other points you can share with us, Mark, that might help as we move along with this security planning?
As you know from my presentation on Transport Security, the multi-mode land, air and sea access to Vancouver and the Games (and the great number of potential choke points) pose safety and security risks and challenges. Though most of these, and threats to other sectors, are indeed possible, it is important to establish early the needs and means of creating situational awareness. Considering outsourcing, where ­possible, for some security needs can result in the best possible blend of people and technology.

Forging these private-public security partnerships soon will allow the team to meet the challenges and implement proven state-of-the-art solutions. As I said before, the plan must be comprehensive, persistent, resilient and reassuring. I wish all my friends well for what I expect will be a fine Canadian show!

Clive Addy is the Executive Editor of FrontLine Security magazine.
© FrontLine Security 2007