The 2012 Olympic surveillance legacy

24 October 2011

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are one of the most prestigious events in the world and in 2012 all eyes will be on London. The well published post-2012 Games legacy includes world class sports facilities, a woodland park, new homes, shops and restaurants.  What isn’t clear is what will happen to the high level security measures that will be left behind after the Games.

Criminologist Dr Pete Fussey believes that there will be a significant use of surveillance during the games, such as fixed and mobile video cameras. In addition, new structures such as bollards and barriers are being introduced to aid security which will have an impact on the urban environment.

Dr Fussey will talk about these issues and invite public discussion at the first of three events on the Olympics to be held during the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science 2011. He believes that there is an important debate to be had about the impact that increased surveillance and security measures could have on the communities of East London once the games have finished.

"Given the amount of terrorist threats on recent large sporting events, security requirements have become increasingly central to Olympic planning. This has led to the construction of a range of highly equipped units monitored by a range of surveillance technologies. This in turn, raises questions of what will become of these spaces once the Games are finished and the site is transformed into urban parkland," said Dr Fussey. "Further questions exist over the revival and renewal of the area, which could be seen as upsetting the traditional urban balance."

As an expert in security and counter-terrorism, Dr Fussey believes that these issues of the legacy of the Olympics need to be more widely debated. "For example during the Seoul and Tokyo Olympics, private security guards were seen for the first time in those countries – and they remained once the Olympics had gone. This sort of thing raises questions about what is needed to police a global event and what happens afterwards. How many of these security measures will remain in place and what impact will they have on these communities long after the Olympics has ended?"

The talk is the first of three given by Essex University experts on aspects of the Olympics on successive evenings. Psychologist, Dr Dominic Mickelwright will talk about how Olympic athletes achieve feats of exceptional performance, and Dr Marjana Johansson, a lecturer in management, will discuss the Olympics as a global brand, and the association of the games with other global brands.

For further information contact

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Notes for editors:

  1. The 2012 Olympic experience
    Organiser: Dr Pete Fussey, University of Essex
    Date: 31 October 2011 18.00-19.30
    Venue: The Minories Bistro, Colchester
    Audience: Suitable for a general audience
    For more information: The 2012 Olympic experience
  2. Press release is based on research by Dr Pete Fussey, Living in surveillance societies. His main research interests focus on surveillance and security with particular reference to counter-terrorism and, also, major events. For more information see Dr Pete Fussey.
  3. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council which runs from 29 October to 5 November 2011. With events from some of the country's leading social scientists, the Festival celebrates the very best of British social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. This year’s Festival of Social Science has over 130 creative and exciting events aimed at encouraging businesses, charities, government agencies; and schools or college students to discuss, discover and debate topical social science issues. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website. You can now follow updates from the Festival on twitter using #esrcfestival
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2011/12 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk