Computer glitch in the frame for Olympics G4S security fiasco

Computer glitch in the frame for Olympics G4S security fiasco

Summary: The CEO of security firm G4S has said that problems with its scheduling system are partly to blame for its failure to provide enough guards for London 2012 Olympic Games


A computer glitch is partly to blame for a shortfall in security staff for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Last week, security giant G4S admitted it would not be able to deliver the some 10,000 security staff it had been contracted to provide for the Games, resulting in about 3,500 military personnel being drafted in to make up the numbers.

G4S van
The head of G4S has blamed software in part for the company's failure to recruit enough security staff for the Olympic Games. Image credit: G4S

Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S, told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday the shortfall is "partly down to the fact our scheduling system hasn't effectively worked to roster the staff".

The software manages the rostering pipeline for applicants to be G4S security staff at the Games, he said, providing weekly reports on applicant processing. It is the same system that the firm uses to handle the deployment of security staff at sporting events every weekend, the committee of MPs heard.

Buckles said he had been made aware of the shortfall and the problems with the scheduling system on 3 July, but initially thought they could be resolved.

"We were still confident early on that we were going to produce the numbers. But the more and more we dug into the data, looked at the process and the scheduling day by day we started to realise that the pipeline and the people we thought we were going to be able to deliver, we couldn't," he said.

On Wednesday, 11 July, Buckles told government officials at an Olympic Security Board meeting that G4S wouldn't be able to provide the necessary security staff for the Games.

G4S will meet the cost of deploying military personnel to meet the security shortfall, as well as incurring other charges, which are expected to total £50m.

Buckles told the committee that he was "very sorry" for what had happened.

Topics: Software, Security, Olympics 2012


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • Unfortunate Planning Techniques

    This is a prime example of what poor data management can bring upon a company, and it’s not very pretty. As a company that emphases data management for strategic purposes, it’s a shame to see that G4S is suffering from the scheduling conflicts.

    Mosaic Technology
  • Did G4S India develop the software?

    From G4S India website:

    "Software Development
    G4S IT offers customised Software Development services based on latest technology, by integrating our experience in the security industry and our expertise in software development. Our IT team is equipped with the required resources in terms of manpower, technology, processes & quality to deliver world class software applications.
    G4S IT software applications cover:
    Workforce Scheduling & Attendance Management

    The natural question to ask is was this work outsourced to G4S's IT development in India? If so this is beginning to look suspiciously like a re-run of RBS/NatWest software fiasco, with the typical communications problems you get when trying to develop software half way round the world.
  • It's apparently even a bit messier than that

    Go Google up the very recent BBC News report titled, "G4S staff hit back over Olympics security shambles"
  • Candidate Mr. R was right

    Candidate Mr. R was right to be concerned over such a boondoggle, yet the media in the U.S. and some in Europe criticize him nonstop or call him ignorant for voicing a minor concern over this story. why? they simply don't understand the issue or didn't read this backstory... better yet they don't care, because their biases are showing through and would've reacted that way no matter what the truth is.