Interoperable Communications that are Controllable, Intuitive and Affordable
Brazil is currently under international attention as the country hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics. This major international events presented a unique opportunity for Brazil to prove itself as a key international player if the events are executed successfully.
One crucial component to the success of major events such as the Olympics is public safety and the Brazilian government has been aware of this and has been making concerted efforts towards delivering a safe Olympics. They began investing in advanced technology in order to ensure public safety some time ago to be at the cutting edge of the public safety communications network industry.
Mutualink’s interoperable communications platform was adopted in Brazil because the impending large scale events required increased security and collaboration between public safety agencies. As stated by Alexandre Corval Vieira, Superintendent of Information Technology and communication for Rio de Janeiro’s Security Secretariat of the State, “These large scale events need rapid coordinated action and integrated processes and these are new for us”, so new technology was implemented to “make joint actions more efficient”. Advanced technology, such as that afforded by Mutualink, has allowed Brazil to execute successful major events the past the Papal visit in July of 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
AN ANSWER UNFOLDS
Brazil began its series of international events in June of 2013 when they hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup from June 15 to June 30. The FIFA Confederations Cup is held the year before the World Cup in the host country and is considered a dress rehearsal for Cup. The Confederations Cup matches were hosted in six cities throughout the country that were scheduled to hold World Cup matches the following summer. The event was overshadowed globally by countrywide protests by the Brazilian people who at first were protesting a rise in transportation cost. The movement then grew to include complaints concerning government corruption, excessive and wasteful spending, and the high cost of hosting world events like the World Cup.
Protests in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil July 2, 2013
The protests not only grew in size (1 million protesters took to the streets)  but also in intensity. The protests became increasingly violent and police from various agencies were utilised to control protests and violence erupted multiple times between police and crowds. Brazil put 54,000 officers and 1,100 military personnel on the streets to control crowds and rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray were used to quell protesters.  The government also invested in new technology to ensure safety and security. The Mutualink system was tested during the events in order to increase communication between agencies. For the first time ever, federal agencies including the Federal Police, Federal Highway Patrol, and selected military forces were able to connect their disparate systems and communicate with Rio’s State Police, Fire, and EMS units and the various stadium facilities. Unfortunately, the government did not anticipate the intensity and scale of the protests during the events, and multiple deaths occurred during demonstrations. The Confederations Cup shed light on internal problems in Brazil and the protests, rather than soccer, were the world’s main focus. The manifestations highlighted Brazil’s need to tighten security as well as prepare for similar protests or civil unrest during the impending world events, when even more tourist and spectators were expected to travel to the nation.
Pope Francis addressing crowds in Rio de Janeiro
The next event that gathered international attention was Pope Francis’s visit to Rio de Janeiro from July 22 to July 29. The visit drew millions of people to the city to see the Holy Father, as the trip also coincided with the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day. Part of the Pope’s visit included a trip to the Varginha favela or slum, located in north Rio. This part of the trip presented a security challenge because Varginha is one of the most violent favelas in the city due to heavy drug trafficking, despite being occupied by pacification police forces in January of 2013. Heavy security measures were undertaken to protect the Pope, including helicopters and sharpshooters posted throughout the neighbourhood. The visit went smoothly, but real security issues surfaced on Tuesday July 23 when the Pope’s car took a wrong turn in traffic in Rio. Crowds of thousands continued to mob the car in which the Pope was travelling, halting traffic. The Federal Police were mostly in charge of the Papal visit, but the mishap was blamed on miscommunication between various security entities. The Federal Police blamed the Federal Highway Police and vice versa. (Note: Federal Police who were not in direct communication with the Federal Highway Patrol motorcade detail insisted on deviating from the previously agreed upon plan.) The Mayor’s office and the secretary general for President Dilma Rouseff claimed they had no knowledge of the plans for the Pope’s security during this phase of the trip.  The lack of coordination and communication did not leave critics and other world officials confident in Brazil’s ability to ensure security in the large upcoming world events, but the visit highlighted a need for further interoperability and communication among security agencies.
Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro
From June 12 to July 13, 2014, the event that the world had been waiting for, the FIFA World Cup, was hosted in 12 Brazilian cities scattered throughout the vast nation. The event attracted millions of fans, especially to Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where both the opening ceremonies and the final match were held.
The Mutualink system was deployed as part of efforts to tighten security and increase communication amongst public safety agencies. Mutualink, along with Brazilian partner firm CENTRAL24H installed the integration system in nine locations throughout Brazil, with eight additional installations expected by the end of 2014. The system was installed at the CICC (Centro Integrado de Comando e Control), the world’s largest emergency and event operation centre. It was also installed at the control centre at Maracanã Stadium and in the Mobile Operations Unit at the World Cup Team Training Centre at Granja Comarí near Petropolis. The primary coordination, command and control centre, operated by the State of Rio de Janeiro Secretary of Public Safety, utilised Mutualink to maintain communications between Federal Highway Patrol, Military State Police, EMS, and operations within the Maracanã Stadium. This increased interoperability allowed authorities to avoid major miscommunication, such as during the Papal visit in July of 2013. Mutualink allowed separate agencies to share video, radio and data. Mutualink Edge clients also used various devices to stay connected and maintain security and in the end, eleven agencies were integrated in over fifty incidents and events during the course of the World Cup.
Mutualink systems within the CICC in Rio de Janeiro
The implementation of Mutualink was just part of the extensive efforts that Brazil made to ensure public safety throughout the month-long event, spending an estimated $855 million on security measures alone, including deploying 57,000 military troops and 100,000 police officers.  Personnel from throughout Brazil were deployed in preparation for demonstrations and protests such as those that occurred during the Confederations Cup. A number of arrests on Black Bloc and associated anarchist groups were made, but large scale protests did not become an issue during the World Cup.
Brazil not only invested in manpower, but in technology as well, spending $88.3 million strengthening the area’s wireless infrastructure. Axell Wireless and partner Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) furnished distributed antenna systems (DAS) for various stadiums in Brazil, allowing spectators and security personnel alike to use mobile devices. Teltronic installed indoor radio coverage in Maracanã to enhance public-safety protocols inside the stadium. Maracanã’s advanced system forms part of the TETRA network for secure communications of the Public Safety Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro State.  Mutualink was part of this investment in public safety technology that was not only utilised during the World Cup, but continues to be in use for large scale events and incident management and is being utilised in for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Mutualink proved its effectiveness as it was not the only communications technology installed at the CICC, but it was the most utilised. The federal agency that built and installed the equipment at the CICC installed Cisco IPICs and Motobridge as well as Mutualink technology, but they remained underutilised as Mutualink was the preferred option. The benefits of the Mutualink system and the preference by the State of Rio were highlighted by Col. Alexandre Corval Vieira, “With more than 50,000 state civilian and military police and thousands of other public safety agencies and municipal organisations, serving nearly 12 million citizens and more than two million spectators at these large- scale events, the Mutualink solution fit us like a glove”.
Brazil has so far proved itself by executing the Papal Visit and the World Cup successfully without any major security incidents and has projected a positive image on to the world stage. Brazil is now under international scrutiny as Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics from August 5 to August 21, 2016. Mutualink will once again be a key part in efforts to ensure public safety during the events. Whilst there has been a number of issues related to construction and alteration of infrastructure, the improvements in interoperability have proven durable and invaluable, particularly through the use of Mutualink, which will once again be a key part of security and safety during the Olympic Games.
The Olympics will be a big event for Rio, as it is the sole host location for the games. The city is set to host over 16,000 athletes competing in 65 Olympic and Paralympic championships as well as a great influx of tourists and spectators.
International Olympic Committee officials have set initial estimates of 480,000 fans flooding into the city to experience the events.  Brazil has invest in technology and public safety and is committed to being technologically advanced for the Olympic Games. They will seek to continue to prove themselves as players on the world stage by holding successful high profile international events and by adopting advanced technological solutions.
1 Jonathan Watts, “Brazil erupts in protest: more than a million on the streets,” The Guardian, June 21, 2013.
2 Mimi Whitefield, “Security concerns could cast a shadow on 2014 World Cup in Brazil,” Miami Herald, June 27, 2013.
3 Pope Francis’s visit to Brazil fraught with security issues,” CBS News, July 23, 2013.
4 Paulo Trevisani,” Brazil spending $855 million on World Cup security,” The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2014.
5 Sandra Wendelken,”Wireless Plays Vital Role for World Cup Public Safety, Fan Connections,” Radio Resource Magazine, June 30, 2014.
6 George Utley, “IOC Predicts 480,000 Tourists in Rio for 2016 Olympics: Daily,” The Rio Times, July 15, 2014.