The Israeli company tasked with securing the Rio Olympics
Vanderlei Almeida (AFP/File)
In the aftermath of the deadly terror attacks on European soil, especially France, the eyes of the world are now fixed on Rio, the Brazilian metropolis that, beginning Friday, will host one of the world’s most important international sports events: the summer Olympic Games.
Located in the southeast of South America's biggest country, Rio de Janeiro has 6.3 million residents in addition to some 500,000 expected tourists and upward of 10,000 athletes from around the world, a real security headache for the authorities.
In addition to mobilizing some 85,000 police and military personnel, Brazil has decided to turn to Israel to guarantee the safety of the event.
The firm chosen for this monumental task is ISDS (International Security and Defense System), an Israeli multinational whose offices are located in a small community in the center of the country. It is headed by former members of the Israeli defense industry who now specialize in security in all its aspects.
For the Rio Games, ISDS was allocated a budget of $2.2 billion and given a carte blanche on how to use it, including working with contractors of its own choice, according to an interview given by CEO Tomer Fulman to the Globes site.
Moreover, the company is required to envision all the possible disaster scenarios and provide a solution for each of them: from a large-scale terrorist attack to the "lone wolf" attack to a suspect in a moving crowd.
To minimize potential threats, ISDS bases its method on the human factor, as well as on many innovative technologies such as a system capable of detecting "suspect" movement, based on pre-defined factors and functions fed into surveillance cameras. Thus, according to Globes, "an individual in possession of a large bag or visiting an area where he has no business to be," is flagged.
Another gadget deployed by the firm is a mobile phone tracking device called "Argos”; according to Fulman, it can detect a change of SIM card user. The Israeli company has in the past participated in securing other Olympics, but this is the first time the device is being fully utilized.
Asked about the participation of Israeli companies in securing large events, the former director of the Israeli National Security Council Nizan Uriel told i24news that this phenomenon is not new.
"There were Israelis working on securing the Olympics in China (2008) and Athens (2004)," he said, adding that such information often remains unknown to the public because "it's not good for business."
Uriel however insists that these companies are not "in charge of security" as such but that "their responsibility is to ensure that their advanced technologies work properly." These tools are not meant to substitute the police and other security forces on the scene, the Israeli official added.
The use of Israeli companies in the field of security is an increasingly common trend coinciding with the resurgence of terrorism, which led to an exponential rise in various countries’ security needs. Securing major sporting and cultural events has especially become a nightmare for the host countries, and they do not hesitate to turn to Israel, the expert in the field.
In preparation for the Euro football championship in June, France had completely refurbished its security apparatus, mobilizing nearly 80,000 agents of the Ministry of Interior (including 45,000 police officers) and increased checks at stadium entrances and fan zones.
But Paris also relied on an Israeli tool to secure stages: a technology capable of neutralizing the threat posed by drones.
A month earlier, during the Cannes festival, another public event involving large crowds of people that is challenging to safeguard, four experts, including a former Israeli counterterrorism official, had carried out an audit to identify the city’s security soft spots.
The market is booming for Israel, which is already recognized as a leader in the field.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in
Booze, Drugs and Sex? I am not aware of any other BDS that is hurting Israel.