The next time you visit Rio de Janeiro, chances are your movements will be recorded and shown in a state-of-the-art command and control center.
A few weeks ago, the Brazilian government started a diplomatic firestorm by cancelling an upcoming state visit of President Dilma Rousseff to the United States -– the only such visit on President Obama’s agenda for 2013 -- over the NSA spying scandal. At the same time, Rio opened its new Integrated Command and Control Center, or Centro Integrado de Comando e Controle (CICC) with the latest surveillance technology.
Indeed, according to the Security Industry Association (SIA), Brazil is the biggest market in Latin America for surveillance systems and equipment. The SIA expects Brazil’s investments to comprise up to 45 percent of the total market by 2014.
One may see a contradiction in Rousseff’s cancellation and the opening of the CICC. The main difference is that the CICC will not be monitoring the personal communications of Rio's residents, but just watching the street activity closely.
President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and US President Barack Obama in happier times.
(Source: Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons)
The CICC, equipped with an initial set of 560 CCTV cameras citywide, is designed to monitor a large portion of Rio de Janeiro. The camera feeds are displayed in an 80-square-meter (860-square-foot) video wall.
IBM, which since 2010 has been selling Smart Cities solutions like this to cities and government agencies worldwide, including those hosting World Cup matches, designed and installed all systems over four floors of the CCIC building. The center is staffed by 670 people in 24/7 shifts who are keeping an eye on all roads, highways, and public areas of the city.
The center cost R$104.5 million (US$47.3 million), 70 percent paid for by the state and 30 percent by the federal government. It was tested during the recent demonstrations against the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games. It includes facilities for a number of state, municipal, and federal government agencies. During the presentation of the CICC, Edval Novaes, its commander in chief, bragged that only facilities in Mexico City and Istanbul have such technology. “Even in the US they don’t have anything like this,” he told the Christian Science Monitor.
Much CICC concern centers on the upcoming Word Cup events and the 2016 Olympic Games. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the world’s narcotics are trafficked through Brazil from Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Brazil is also the second greatest consumer nation of cocaine, after the United States. The challenge for Brazilian authorities is how to prevent the drugs, guns, and explosives that are regularly trafficked through the country’s porous borders from making it into Rio, past the security of the FIFA games, and into the hands of spectators during a high profile and internationally sensitive period. Rio also has submitted a petition to the federal aviation authority to deploy unarmed surveillance drones.
So Dilma Rousseff may shun Barack Obama’s invitation on the basis of alleged NSA spying, but back in Rio the CICC will make city surveillance a top priority. Brazil can’t afford security issues during the world’s biggest football event -- even if it makes some enemies ensuring it doesn’t.
— Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant