UK Employs Biometrics for 2012 Olympics Security

olympic ringsLarge-scale, heavily populated events, like the Super Bowl and holiday travel in airports, are real-time stress tests for security, public safety and loss prevention protocols. Out of these events we are able to see where vulnerabilities and infringements occurred as well as put new solutions to the test.

This year, as the United Kingdom prepares to host the 2012 Olympics, the UK Border Agency plans to put biometrics to the test by taking the biometric details of approximately 10,000 individuals who will be involved in the Olympic Games. Each profile will contain facial image scans and finger scans, all to be held in a digital record.

One of the UK’s Home Office spokesmen stated that "Collecting biometrics in advance of travel will increase security as [game family members] biometrics will be pre-checked before arrival in the UK" (Independent, 2012). Athletes and family members will be given the option to scan in their own countries, but if they decline they will be asked to do so upon arrival in the UK.

This is the first time that an Olympic host nation has conducted such a large application of biometrics. The security protocol will apply to all foreign nationals entering the UK at this time, even those who qualify for the visa waiver – such as the US.

With millions of ticket holders, 20,000 accredited participants and around 10,000 athletes, the use of biometrics in an airport and border control setting will be put to the ultimate test and there should be some interesting results for the industry to ponder in the next coming months.