Gold Coast buckles down on security ahead of Commonwealth Games

The event's head of security says technology will play a big part in making the Commonwealth Games a safe and secure environment.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: GC2018

With less than a year to go before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games takes place on the Gold Coast, the Games' head of security Danny Baade is confident in Queensland's ability to deliver a safe and successful event.

The countdown to kick-off commenced back in 2011, and now only 294 days out, Baade and his team are focusing on two main areas of risk: The first is ensuring the event runs smoothly, and the second is keeping abreast of the growing threat landscape, both in the physical world and online.

Pointing to the recent acts of terror in the United Kingdom, Baade -- who spent 30 years in the Queensland Police Service and retired as a superintendent after being in charge of the state's major events and disaster management branch -- said the role of security sits between evaluating risks and making sure the Games are successful.

"We all know that you can't eliminate all risk; it's just not possible to do that. But in between trying to eliminate as much risk as possible, there's a point where no-one can go to the Games and the Games can't actually occur, so you can't simply lock everything up and protect it like a fortress," he explained.

Speaking with ZDNet ahead of the 2017 Security Conference and Exhibition in Sydney next month, Baade said the teams behind the Games have taken an approach to the event that encompasses both safety and security where they look at every type of issue that can occur at a venue and treat it as one combined strategy.

"We're looking at incidents that might be an unsafe environment from a spectator right through to a potential cyber attack from another country -- so we cover the whole range. It all has to be integrated," Baade said.

Facial recognition is one of the technologies being considered for the Commonwealth Games; Baade said it's one of many safety and security strategies that are being looked at or will be deployed for the Games.

"Some of these strategies will be obvious to the community, for example the use of airport-style screening at the entry of all venues," he added.

But given the technology is constantly evolving, no decisions have been made regarding how and where facial recognition or other biometric capabilities will be deployed.

Baade, however, is certain that the public and the Games' stakeholders will be confident in the ability of law enforcement to do "everything they can" to be resilient.

"Part of that is accepting that there are technologies that can be used to make it a safer environment," he said.

Baade and his teams initially began work on the strategic security framework forthe Games back in 2011. While plans have been in place for a long time, Baade said they are constantly under review.

"There's technology that can be used to make the Games safer, and we constantly look at all types of technology to see where they can be used to make it a safer event," he added.

"The important thing is the changing perspective of the community around safety and security.

"I think the community have the expectation that if they are going to play their part and feel confident about coming to an event, that we're going to do everything we can to make that event safe."

On April 4, 2018, over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories will converge on the Gold Coast for the 11-day event.

It is expected that nearly 15,000 volunteers and an audience of 1.5 billion will be watching the 18 sports and 7 para-sports both on the Gold Coast and internationally via broadcast.

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