NEWS

US-led security consortium starts two-day exercise

An American-led consortium installing surveillance equipment and other security systems for the Olympic Games began a two-day exercise yesterday to test links between various Greek agencies, a senior company official said. «We’re also giving individuals who will be involved in the actual security process an opportunity to work with the equipment and see how it works,» Dave Tubbs, senior vice president of San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp, or SAIC, told AP. The exercise – the third of five planned by SAIC before the Games – involves police, firefighters and the coast guard, Tubbs said. No forces from the seven-country security advisory group – including the USA and Britain – will participate. SAIC is in charge of setting up more than 100 command centers around the city. They are a linchpin of the record $800 million-plus security network. SAIC would like to get all equipment installed by the end of their contract on May 28, Tubbs said. «The task of putting this together in one year was daunting at the beginning and, as we get closer to the end, we have to make certain we get everything done we possibly can,» Tubbs said. «If there is a need to go beyond the end of our contract period we will, but we prefer it not happening.» The current exercise will also test stationary closed-circuit cameras that will operate from some 1,250 concrete columns and systems to find the location of vehicles. Tubbs said the surveillance network will also include helicopters and a blimp that will send images to personnel managing traffic and crowd control. About 4,000 security personnel must be trained to work with the equipment, which includes computers and communications systems. «One thing you do when you build an infrastructure like we’re providing is that regardless where you are building it… you don’t make it so complicated that it’s difficult to use,» Tubbs said. Tubbs said classes have been held for months and so far «it’s working out fine.» Other companies in the consortium include: Motorola Inc, Germany’s Siemens AG; General Dynamics of Falls Church, Virginia; New Jersey-based Honeywell International, and the Israeli company Elbit Systems.