The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, which is scheduled for mid June through mid July, will include 32 national teams competing in 11 cities. The month-long soccer tournament will wrap up with the final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. With ticket requests of nearly 5 million by the end of the January 2017 sales window, the attendance is expected to be massive.
It’s predicted that World Cup attendance will dwarf that of the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia in Sochi, where some 37,000 security guards on hand. An event of the size and sprawl of a World Cup will almost certainly put Russia’s security and surveillance apparatus to a test it’s likely never seen. Add to that the threat of a potential terrorist attack from any number of malevolent actors plus 11 different host cities to protect and it becomes clear that the security monitoring requirements will be staggeringly complex.
What’s the translation for security professionals and event organizers? Security will play a vital role in ensuring the safety and enjoyment of players, tourists and residents all over Russia. City streets, sports venues, metros, hotels, airports, cafes and bars — all must be monitored for a heightened risk of violence and mayhem, whether it involve fist fights, car accidents or worse.
Here is why: Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office projects a high risk of terror at the World Cup this year with as many as 4,500 ISIS jihadists traveling to Russia from Syria and Iraq ready to make a statement on the world’s stage. Such militants could seek to avenge Russian attacks against ISIS in Syria. Or there could be Chechens with a long-standing and simmering hatred of Russia. As recently as late last year ISIS displayed posters as part of a terror campaign targeting the event. It was a kind of jihadist call-to-terror campaign it has used to great effect in the past.
Russian security officials have unique enforcement powers in dealing with bad actors expected during this summer’s FIFA World Cup. Law Enforcment rules in Russia enable the restriction of mobility of visitors and the detention of suspects without charge for up to 5 days. Such dynamics allow police officials to be more aggressive than they might be in other countries, says Stuart Rawling, Pelco by Schneider Electric’s director of segment marketing.
“If they get the intelligence, I’m sure they’ll act on it without reservation.”
Technology such as facial recognition and tracking movements through smartphone location devices could play a major role in security measures, Rawling notes. “Privacy tends to take a back seat to overall event safety when so many people are in a closed space like a stadium or arena,” he says. “And while privacy is sacrosanct in Europe, in Russia, especially during the hosting of a large event, security is for more a paramount concern.”
To help law enforcement quickly pinpoint and address undesirable behavior, the 11 Russian host cities have worked tirelessly to put their own security systems in place. As early as November of last year, for instance, Moscow launched pilot programs for facial recognition technology in the metro area and train stations surrounding the stadiums where World Cup matches will be held. This, of course, is in addition to the surveillance systems each individual stadium is already equipped with.
Take Spartak System, more commonly known as Otkritie Arena, that is slated to kickoff the quadrennial international soccer competition on June 16th. As a valued customer of Pelco’s, Otkritie Arena’s defensive line features power packed surveillance solutions through our Sarix Professional fixed IP cameras. Each Sarix dome camera delivers high resolution images within large areas and has advanced zoom capabilities allowing operators to view detailed scenes while maintaining evidentiary data. Participants of the events at Otkritie Arena can feel assured that their only worry will be whether or not their favorite team will be able to perform on the pitch or not.
Coupling video surveillance and facial recognition technology with the collection of quality security intelligence supplied by other nations will play a crucial role in how well the World Cup plays out both on and off the pitch. Safety is an important component of any event, and ultimately that should be everyone’s goal.
May the best team win!