Police officers look over a cart of hockey sticks after they were taken off a plane as NHL hockey players arrive …
While there have been a few hiccups here and there, the first week of Sochi Games have gone rather smoothly. Sure there are some stray dogs roaming around and that one snowflake didn’t transform into an Olympic ring during the Opening Ceremony, but by most accounts, Sochi has been a great host and the Games have proceeded without incident.
Coming into the Games, there had been concern about the potential for terrorist attacks with such large gatherings of people in the area. Because of this, security has been heightened. Those of us at home watching the events on TV can’t get a true sense at the levels of security, but a piece in the New York Times offers a glimpse.
Security forces in Sochi appear to be taking things to a new level with sophisticated technology that scans train passengers for their emotional state to make sure they are not terrorists. Seriously.
Per the New York Times:
Before boarding the new trains serving Sochi and the Olympic sites here, passengers must pass through metal detectors and place their bags on X-ray machines — just as in airports. What many do not realize is that they are also being scanned by a far more sophisticated system that gauges emotional state in an effort to identify potential terrorists.
According to the Times, the system was developed by a Russian company called Elsys Corporation and “uses computer analytics of live video images to measure tiny muscle vibrations in the head and neck.” The system is called “VibraImage” and is designed to “detect someone who appears unremarkable but whose agitated mental state signals an imminent threat.”
Officers from all around Russia have been sent to Sochi and there are even warships in the Black Sea and surveillance blimps circling overhead. The police officers who monitor the events from the ground do not display a visible weapon, which is “a striking contrast from most events in Russia,” where the police often appear “heavily armed.”
On top of that, the military is on call at a base nearby and there is also a “small compound” near Olympic Park that is “equipped with antiaircraft missiles.”
The question will be raised if this intensified security is excessive, but at the same time, it’s better to be safe than sorry.