Halting Hooligans

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.

By Jim Crockett, Editor-in-Chief September 1, 2004

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?

A: In European stadiums some years ago, we had a couple of severe incidents with hooligans. As a result, big fences had to be erected to secure the players from the spectators. Today, based on our new approach of an integrated chain of protection that starts with the Internet-based ordering of e-tickets and monitoring guests—even as they arrive at the airport—and thanks to technologies such as CMS and video surveillance, stadiums are now open again to the playing field.

Q: Is this something that’s exclusive to Europe, or is it coming to the States, as well?

A: In Atlanta in 1996 and then again at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, athletes and officials were already equipped with personalized badges that included biometric verification. Therefore, the technology is not new, but more advanced and further applied. Despite the importance of the event itself, the highest priority for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is security and attempting to prevent potential attacks as much as possible. As far as the most recent Olympics, security technology also had to include personalized measures to support clean sports: in other words, doping detection. Identification technologies utilizing the same badge and biometric means ensure clear and secure alignment, probe taking, analysis and conclusions.

Q: At the press forum I mentioned earlier, your boss, Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger, gave me a great quote when he described the lack of security standards across the globe as a real “cowboy” state ( see “Man on an Integration Mission,” CSE 07/04 p. 11 ). In your presentation at the forum, you noted a couple of de facto standards. One of them was Basel II. Can you briefly explain it?

A: The answer could be quite lengthy; here’s the quick version: Basel II is of high importance for the financial ranking of a company. If a high-tech company is strongly dependent on its research results, meaning trouble-free production, it must protect its assets and business processes in an appropriate way—i.e., security measures. Companies that do not protect their assets or their operating areas against breakdowns—production, laboratories, etc.—will suffer from lower rankings and higher insurance costs.

Q: Tom Ridge, head of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, recently urged the U.S. security industry to get rolling on developing standards for interoperable security systems, and indeed, some action is happening on the part of the Security Industry Assn. ( see “Security Standards—Filling the Void,” Codes and Standards p. 17 ). What’s your outlook on a U.S. security standard, and where do you think global standards are heading?

A: I’m not sure I can answer that frankly, but as far as interoperability, we believe ASHRAE’s BACnet protocol is a toolbox that’s very important for Siemens. We have decided to base all our system communication on the BACnet principle using defined modules. BACnet was defined to arrange signal exchange between devices of different suppliers, so the signal amount is limited to object status signals like running, ready and out of order. For our internal system performance and customer requirements, we must be able to extend that set to their needs based on the modules form.