Winter Olympics security hinges on information sharing

Information sharing needs to improve between the U.S. and Canadian governments, and between public agencies and the private sector, to prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, an industry expert told Congress yesterday.

The 14-day sports event will bring massive global attention, and potential security threats, to the Pacific Northwest. But little federal planning has been done to date, Jeffrey Slotnick, president of Setracon Inc., a security consulting firm in Tacoma, Wash., told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection on March 12.

For example, the Homeland Security Department Special Events Work Group has not yet performed a comprehensive risk, threat and vulnerability assessment for the 2010 Olympic games, he said.

"This is a critical document as security planning and decisions are based in risk and risk is calculated from threat. This essential planning document has not yet been prepared," Slotnick said.

Slotnick recommends that companies, including Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp., which have major facilities in Washington State, participate more fully in sharing their intelligence assets through an information-sharing network.

"In many cases individuals in these organizations have higher security clearances than many law enforcement officials," Slotnick said. "It would be unfortunate not to capitalize on these assets in support of the 2010 Olympics through the framework established by the Northwest Warning and Response Network."

Furthermore, the U.S. federal and state governments should strengthen information sharing with Canada, possibly through intelligence fusion centers, he said. Drills and exercises should be held in advance to practice those capabilities.

Slotnick also recommended upgrading the 2010 Olympics and associated games to a National Special Security Event comparable to the Super Bowl to ensure that it would receive appropriate federal attention.

Improvements in government agency information-sharing networks often present opportunities for information technology contractors who establish, operate and secure the expanded networks.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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