Infrared Thermal Imaging Could Help to Secure Sochi’s "Ring of Steel" at the Olympic Games

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With the 2014 Sochi Olympic games well on their way, the security measures within the "Ring of Steel" are called into question. Could HGH Infrared System's Spynel infrared thermal imaging camera be a solution?

In the second week of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, several press articles have been reporting increasingly more lax security measures, ranging from inconsistent bag checks to less than systematic metal detector inspections for visitors (Source: Associated Press via ABC News, 2/17/2014, No attack attempt has occurred thus far since the games started on February 7th.

With over 88 nations and 2800 Olympians participating, security measures are still taken very seriously for one of the biggest and most televised events of the year. Sochi is in a very precarious location in the North Caucus, being just 500 miles west of Chechnya, 700 miles west of Dagestan and 600 miles to the South West of Volgograd. These locations form a geographically dangerous triangle close to Islamist extremist activity causing deep security risks.

Tackling an event this large scale and over such a vast and diverse topography requires extensive and comprehensive security measures and solutions, ranging from patrols and security cameras to check points. Events like the Olympics and the upcoming World Cup, slated for this summer in Brazil, present specific security challenges as they both encompass very large perimeters that cannot physically be manned at all times. Some technologies used for surveillance of wide open areas subjected to a lot of traffic, such as airports, can be used to help secure large public events. Unlike a permanent critical infrastructure though, the temporary nature of these highly visible events can benefit from technologies that are easy to set up and move around, when needed or once the event is over.

In the last 10 years, sophisticated, new high definition cameras have changed the way security operations are designed. Megapixel visible cameras can provide identification capabilities over areas as large as stadiums. Thermal cameras associated with advanced video analytics can provide effective automatic intrusion detection at night in areas where access is prohibited. A unique panoramic 360-degree thermal imaging camera, the Spynel series from HGH Infrared Systems, was created to provide high definition imaging of very wide areas while automatically detecting and tracking all activity. Based in Cambridge, MA, HGH Infrared Systems is one of the leading manufacturers of infrared equipment and the Spynel series captures high-resolution, real-time images through snow, wind, sleet or whatever else weather a Russian Olympic Winter game can throw at you. The sensor records everything at all times in all directions to ensure post-event analysis in case of incident or attack. Spynel is used today mainly in defense and security critical infrastructure related applications, but the company has recently come up with a commercial version of its camera that has created a large interest in the security community to secure potentially high risk public events.

Founded in 1982, HGH designs, develops, assembles and sells complete high end optronics systems for security, industrial and civil applications. HGH’s team of highly qualified engineers is comprised of experts in optics, software, mechanics and electronics and operates in the US, out of Boston, MA. HGH strives to provide advanced and innovative infrared equipment to protect their clients all around the world, while keeping the agility and dedication of a small and passionate team. Speed, flexibility, technical excellence and innovation constitute their core values. HGH has established itself as an international reference for infrared technology innovation through the development of multiple advanced thermal sensors, among which its award-winning real-time 360 degree thermal camera, the Spynel-C - 2008 Product of the Year from Photonics Tech Briefs, 2010 Innovation Prize from the EuroNaval Committee, 2011 Kummerman Award from the French Academy of Marine, 2012 GovSec Platinum Award, and 2012 Govies Homeland Security Award.

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Katie Shea