Rumours of mobile jamming across Sydney during George Bush's APEC visit have been greatly exaggerated.
Bernadette Ryan, general manager of media and communications for the APEC 2007 taskforce, said that she did not believe there were any plans to down the mobile networks in areas around President Bush during the APEC Economic Leaders Week in September.
"To the best of my knowledge, [the mobile jamming rumour] is completely untrue. It's illegal to jam mobile phones in this country," she said today.
While APEC may not be planning to down mobile networks, IT workers are already hard at work in preparation for the influx of Asia-Pacific leaders scheduled to attend the conference later this year.
Delegates badges will carry what is thought to be an RFID chip, which will need to be placed against a reader housed in pillars to gain access to conference venues. The system will also monitor which delegates are entering which conference sessions and control access accordingly. When placed against a reader, the badge will also recall a pre-registered photo of the delegates for venue staff to check. "There's a physical check as well as a technological check," she said.
The scale of the meeting will also necessitate a big IT presence. "For every APEC meeting, the tech team literally set up an entire tech department," she said.
The Australian techies are already sharing their knowledge with their counterparts who will be proving IT support during next year's meeting in Peru "with a view to it being a legacy rather than every team starting again," she said.
Sydney's tech companies are also preparing for the event. According to Patricia Forsythe, executive director of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, companies who supply the city's critical infrastructure are already reviewing their operations in light of the security issues that accompany a visit by high profile politicians.
"Every company with infrastructure will have their own risk management. I know many have reviewed their own risk strategy ... There is the heightened sense of security and we have to accept that," Forsythe said.
Meanwhile, Sydney workers are getting ready for the disruption which will occur as areas of the city are blocked to allow the world leaders to move around the streets unhindered by the locals.
A higher than average number of workers are expected to work from home during Leaders Week, in order to dodge the expected transport trouble. Enterprises should use the opportunity to dust down their business continuity plans according to Mark Pullen, Australia country manager of RSA.
"APEC is no more than another business interruption. People's business continuity processes should just kick in," he said.