SAIC watches over Olympics


Science Applications International Corp., the prime contractor for the computerized security system at the Olympics in Athens, Greece, is using a Global Positioning System developed by an Israeli firm to track more 2,500 police and law enforcement vehicles in the city.

The location of every marked vehicle is available on laptop computers and large screens at more than 100 command centers that feed into the central command post, which is using 1,300 cameras, sensors, secure communications and other devices to monitor security at the events.

"The Greek authorities wanted the ability to determine where their vehicles were for response purposes in case of incidents," said David Tubbs, a project director at SAIC, in a telephone interview from Athens Aug. 24.

Tubbs said he did not know if the marked vehicles were being used to protect dignitaries at the games. "That is up to the government [and] the organizing committee," he said. "We don't tell them how to use it. We just give them the capability."

The vehicle identifier is provided by subcontractor Cellocator, an Israeli company that specializes in vehicle security. The technology uses GPS to send information via a preferred communications network to a control center. The center can contact the vehicle, request information and remotely control certain features.

In light of heightened terrorism alerts, the Greek games have been described as the most secure in Olympic history. Tubbs said SAIC is using a combination of closed-circuit television and tools such as motion detectors.

Much of the technology is not new. Tubbs, a former FBI agent who worked at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and was an FBI observer at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, said the tracking system had been used at the previous games. "The Olympics is not [a place where] you want to test out new technology," he said.

In the United States, U.S. Border Patrol officials and those at local governments, are considering using similar surveillance systems.

John Gauss, senior vice president of SAIC, said many applications are available for homeland security. In addition to the vehicle tracking system, those include a secure radio network and sophisticated robotic cameras that send alerts in the event of an intrusion.

"The cameras are very sophisticated," Gauss said. "You can remotely control a camera from a command center. The cameras have microphones that come with them."

SAIC's work will not end when the Olympic flame is extinguished Aug. 29. The company's $302 million fixed-price contract includes leaving behind a secure legacy system for the Greek government.


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