Consortium official defends pace of security preparations

A senior official with the American-led consortium setting up the complex security network for the August 13-29 Olympics defended the pace of work yesterday and said the system will be working ahead of the Games. David Tubbs, a senior vice president of the San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, also urged Greek critics to shift their focus from the huge cost of the system to its long-term benefits for Greece. After the Olympics, the network of computers, cameras and detection devices around the capital and other parts of Greece will give the country’s police force one of the most sophisticated security systems in the world, officials have said. The cost of the security system is expected to come to about 255 million euros ($312 million) and takes up a considerable portion of Athens’s record security budget of more than $1.2 billion. As part of the security plan, Athens will also use more 70,000 police officers and soldiers while NATO will supply surveillance planes and support. «We and the government are working very hard to make certain that the system is completed, functional and available for use during the Olympics,» Tubbs said. He avoided giving a final delivery date for the system. According to the contract, SAIC was to deliver the system by May 28 but there have been delays, which sources at the company blamed on construction setbacks at Olympic venues. The sources, who asked not to be named, said that although the majority of the systems have been installed and tested, continuing construction at venues such as the main Olympic stadium have also forced delays. Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis carried out a surprise inspection of the security devices being set up by the consortium at the Olympic Village. «During previous visits, I had noticed some delays,» he said. «Now I see that work has intensified, efforts have been made by everyone and I can say that in the end everything will be ready for a safe Olympic Games.» During the Olympics, infrared and high-resolution cameras will be placed on 1,250 concrete columns around the capital. Surveillance equipment will also be fitted on 12 patrol boats, 4,000 vehicles, three helicopters and a blimp. «Everyone is talking about the cost, but everyone has to keep in mind that what we are building right now stays after the Games,» Tubbs told a two-day conference on homeland and corporate security. The consortium is also responsible for installing a secure communication, information and radio system for security services, and a security network for ports such as Piraeus. About 4,000 people must be trained to operate the complex equipment. Tubbs, who once worked for the FBI and was responsible for overall security at the Salt Lake Winter Games, denied delays were affecting their training. «The contract that we signed included the training of personnel,» Tubbs said. «We are working with the government to make sure that the personnel are familiar with the system.»