How Milan Expo 2015 used new technology to keep 21 million visitors safe

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Having been in full swing for over six months, exhibitors at Milan Expo 2015 have finally shut up shop following what has been an international showcase of epic proportions. The latest in a long string of Universal Expositions, the theme chosen by the famously foodie nation of Italy was ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' with participating countries invited to show how the best of their technology could guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for the world. But it wasn’t all fun and gastronomy, with 144 countries represented and more than 21 million people attending, the Expo brought with it a significant security challenge; protecting such a huge event over such a long opening calendar.


One company chosen by the Expo to meet this challenge was Finmeccanica - Selex ES. The company was contracted to provide security systems for the main exhibition site, a number of national pavilions and interlinking areas. Selex ES drew on its expertise as a defence and security provider in monitoring, security and protection and provided a fully integrated system. This included video monitoring and analysis, smoke detectors, emergency public announcement systems and secure communications based on the TETRA standards and handsets used by professional police forces. The hardware on its own was formidable, but just as important was bringing it all together in a way that was intuitive to use and effective when it was needed.



At the heart of the system, and key to securing such a large event, was the company’s main operations centre. Based on an advanced platform for security management, the operations centre gave Expo organisers and security operators access to a 3D satellite map of part of the exhibition site created by e-GEOS, a joint venture between space technology company Telespazio and the Italian Space Agency. A relatively new development in major event security, this visual approach allowed operators to virtually ‘immerse’ themselves in the environments they were in charge of monitoring, giving them a better understanding of the Expo landscape and in turn improving operational efficiency when they were called to make rapid and reliable security response decisions.


The operations centre was also fully linked-in with the Selex ES-provided communications equipment. The system provided Expo security personnel, through operation centre terminals, immediate visibility of what was happening in monitored areas. Operators were able to directly contact the personnel in areas of interest to verify irregularities reported by on-site security or help direct other security personnel to emergency services and first aid facilities.


 As well as the main operation centre, Selex ES provided the security systems (together with their associated local operation centres and secure TETRA-based communications) for the Palazzo Italia, the only structure which will remain after the event, for the pavilions representing Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, FederAlimentare and FCANewHolland and for the ‘Clusters’, themed areas hosting around 50 countries. In the end, the extensive but unobtrusive security didn’t get in the way of visitors finding out about, and tasting, the world’s best dishes and was heralded as a huge success.


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The Milan Expo is just one of the most recent major events to be protected by Selex ES. The company was recently named as providing the ‘most significant security technology contribution at a recent major event’ by membership body Major Events International. The award was given in recognition of Selex ES’s success in securing the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games where the company acted as protective perimeter security provider. Prior to this, the company also secured a number of sporting events including the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the 2013 World Cycling Championship in Florence. Other major events secured include the 2009 G8 Summit, the Inauguration of Pope Francis I and the Canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. 



Francesco Norante
VP International Sales – Major Sport Events
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Homy Masud – International Sales
Manager – Security & Information Systems
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