A Look Back
Deatils emerge about unprecedented security at the 2008 Olympics
- By Megan Weadock
- Feb 01, 2009
Once the hustle and bustle of the 2008 Olympic Games had left Beijing last year, the security industry was able to fully understand and admire the technological wonders that officials employed to protect the games’ facilities, athletes and spectators. One such wonder was MATE Intelligent Video’s system. The company revealed in December 2008 that its intelligent video was part of a large, highly secretive integrated video surveillance system installed at the Beijing National Stadium.
The stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, cost $423 million to build and years of planning to protect. The facility has a seating capacity of 80,000 and, in August of 2008, was a central location of much of the Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies, athletic events and the soccer finals. Clearly, this is one stadium whose security cannot be taken lightly.
An Ideal Match
Officials in Beijing chose MATE’s Trigger, an embedded processor for video detection and transmission, to upgrade the Bird’s Nest’s CCTV system to an intelligent video detection system. Trigger monitored strategic areas and critical points in and around the stadium around the clock. The automated surveillance allowed stadium management to lower supervising costs and increase response time to security alerts.
Jonathan Moav, MATE’s vice president of business development, said the installation began soon after the stadium’s security cameras were in place, between February and March 2008. Digital China Information System LTD., MATE’s partner in China, provided local support for the project.
“MATE was chosen for two reasons,” he said. “We successfully passed the rigorous tests, which began more than a year ago, and our solution was determined to be the easiest to integrate with the security system already in place. The intuitive ease of use and integration capabilities matched the Chinese requirements, and the flexibility of our software allowed them to get their own look and feel.”
Moav explained that the Trigger is a robust encoder with embedded video analytics that alerts on a wide range of behaviors in real time. This helps security officials manage large amounts of monitored video, pinpointing relevant information on which security should focus.
At the Bird’s Nest, being able to monitor suspicious events and control huge crowds during events was a daunting challenge. However, security officials were able to automate video surveillance to look for specific behaviors that necessitated further action or attention.
“In this way,” Moav said, “it became a decision-support system.”
Stadium officials designated hot spots for automated surveillance by the MATE system, allowing them to focus on other tasks and respond to alerts as soon as they were detected. These hot spots included high-security areas such as electrical and communications installations, VIP areas, and entrances and exits during the games. Officials also focused on securing equipment, parking monitoring and protecting the athletic fields when the arena was empty.
The video gathered by MATE’s Trigger system was monitored from the command and control center on site at the stadium. However, Moav said the video also could be streamed to other remote locations upon demand. The video analytics worked well in the high-traffic Bird’s Nest, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. Officials were able to program the video analytics to detect events only at predetermined times—for example, at night or during events.
“The system also can automatically switch between different types of detection rules according to the time of day,” Moav said. “For instance, the video analytic rules will monitor for any type of intrusion after hours. But during activity hours, they will switch to a different rule and look for a more specific movements that would occur in a particular direction rather than just intrusion.
“Since all these adjustments were automatic, the officials did not have to spend a lot of time configuring the system and setting up new rules every day.”
The Shift to Intelligent Video
Months after the secretive MATE system did its part to protect the 2008 Games, the company is enjoying plenty of praise for its role in the security challenge of the year.
“I believe the best testimony of the effectiveness of MATE’s intelligent video technology came in a letter from the customer,” Moav said. “They mentioned the help that the system provided in managing the huge challenge they had at hand. They also commented on the added value the ease of use and accuracy of detection brought to the overall security of the stadium.”
To the security industry at large, the Games will serve as a fascinating realworld example of how cutting-edge technologies can be used to simplify and bolster even the most challenging security installations.
“We are proud to have been a part of this important project,” said Adiv Baruch, chairman of MATE. “This was a step further in the industry’s acknowledgement that intelligent video is a must for any security system.”
While Moav could not comment at this time about the future of the Bird’s Nest stadium, he did say MATE is discussing the implementation of solutions for other major international events in China within the next two years.
This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Security Today.