July 28, 2008
Going for Gold
Anyone who has visited the China’s capital city of Beijing recently knows that construction and development are literally remaking the landscape of this great city. The relentless reform comes in part from the massive wealth pouring into the country, but also out of a desire to showcase China’s political and cultural crown jewel to the world during the Olympic Games in one week.
But the buildup for security at the Beijing Olympics also provides a unique opportunity to see how -- when not burdened by legacy infrastructure and policy -- a government goes about creating a secure environment. Chinese officials know that a failure to secure the athletes and spectators at the games would result in a public relations disaster. So ample steps are being taken to ensure the safety and security of the 10,000 athletes and countless other visitors from more than 200 countries around the world.
Many of the security provisions mirror the recommendations we’ve heard throughout the recently completed six deep dives on Security and Society. For example, when constructing the many venues for the Olympic events – everything from stadiums to pools – security measures were built into the plans, not added later as an afterthought. Surveillance, alarm systems, X-ray machines, and guard stations were all in the blueprints for new construction. Several GIO participants advocated this concept, something many called “embedded security,” where products, services, and public spaces were all designed with security in mind.
Another concept Chinese officials are using is that of global cooperation. The 54 master plans and 900 specific implementation plans were designed in concert with international experts. The Chinese government even held their own version of the GIO, hosting international security conferences around the world.
And finally, education of both security staff and the general public has been paramount. The Chinese government has been engaged in a months-long public awareness campaign. Even regular staff have been trained in various security measures.
All of these things echo the insights we heard from our deep dives around the world. It’s encouraging to know that when given the opportunity to start fresh and design a security system from scratch, the latest concepts are being put into use. It will be interesting to see if they work.