Electronic Design

Olympics Security: Simpler Tools Aid Security Preparation

With days to go before the opening ceremonies kick off, Greek officials are trying to plug the remaining holes in the country's effort to thwart terrorist attacks. Construction delays hampered Athens' coordinated "lockdown" to seal off the games and enable checks for bombs and constant monitoring of the venues.

Delays in construction also hindered installation of surveillance systems. For instance, the docking area alone for the cruise ships at Piraeus, where 15,000 visitors, state officials, and dignitaries will reside, will ultimately include a battery of motion sensors on barbed-wire fences, surveillance cameras, X-ray machines, and detectors for radiological, chemical, and biological material-along with thousands of special forces soldiers.

As a result, some critics say there will only be about three days before the opening ceremonies for just the main stadium to be thoroughly checked for explosive devices. All told, Greece is spending approximately $1.2 billion on security.

That said, other simpler precautions have helped put a salve on some of those lingering hotspots. For example, athletes and organizing staff will receive special accreditation cards called "AD cards" created by Tokyo, Japan-based Toppan Printing Co. "We're absolutely confident that our cards cannot be forged," says Shinobu Yoshinu, Toppan's Olympics project leader. To back up his claim, he points out that not a single forgery has been found among more than four million U.S. passports produced by the firm since 1997.

The old spy-movie technique of replacing the photograph doesn't work with AD cards. A series of holographic images are embossed onto the photograph, and they extend over the printed personal information. When the card is held at an angle, a three-dimensional image appears across the photo and detailed information area.

In addition, Toppan uses special ultraviolet-light-reflecting ink. Thus, when a security guard shines a light on the card, an image appears that's invisible in ordinary light. Finally, the personal information printed on the card was collected and vetted by Greek security forces before actual AD card printing commenced.

It's expected that by the starting date of August 13, between 80,000 and 100,000 AD cards will be produced. Toppan began its printing process in June, and runs three shifts per day to meet its production target.

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