Qatar’s ground control is on red alert for World Cup disasters
Qatar’s ground control is on red alert for World Cup disasters

Qatar’s ground control is on red alert for World Cup disasters

DOHA: In front of a bank of screens that look like NASA mission command, the technicians counting down to the World Cup in Qatar control the temperature, the gates, 15,000 cameras and more in the eight stadiums. The Aspire Control and Command Center will monitor all stadiums simultaneously as Qatar pulls out all the stops to keep an eye on the more than one million anticipated visitors from the moment they step off the plane to the moment they depart.
Qatar spent billions of dollars building seven new stadiums and renovating an eighth for the first World Cup in an Arab country. He took advantage of the uniquely short distance between them – barely 70 kilometers separate the two most distant locations – to create an elaborate virtual network.
Organizers say the control center, packed with alarms and sensors, will set a benchmark for global sporting events that must protect against terrorism, natural disasters and hooligans, as well as leaking water pipes. The numbers expected to hit the streets are worrying the authorities. More than 3,000 Turkish police will reinforce local security forces, while small groups of police from each of the 32 competing nations will shadow their fans.
Cameras and drones
Supporters went through a first screening when they applied for tickets. Names on a blacklist of hooligans and frauds were banned. Fans will be watched on the streets of Doha by ubiquitous CCTV cameras armed with facial recognition technology. Experts at Qatar University have developed drone surveillance systems that they say will provide the most accurate estimates of street numbers.
At the Aspire center, engineers will track air conditioning failures and blockages at the ticket gates. A Home Office command center that will monitor all streets, buses and subway trains. Police will move into the center on match days and play a key role when there are up to four matches a day, with tens of thousands of fans leaving one stadium and entering another.
“We can basically open a door or all the doors of a stadium right from here,” said Niyas Abdulrahiman, the organizers’ chief technology officer, standing in front of the screens in the Khalifa Stadium complex. “Whatever happens, there is an answer,” said Hamad Al-Mohannadi, director of the command center. “As long as there’s no property damage and nobody gets hurt, we’ll just follow,” he added. “Anything related to property damage or someone being hurt, we’ll have to report and deal with.”
Dark suits
Abdulrahiman calls organizers’ ground control “the eyes, ears and awareness of all the stadiums at the same time.” If there’s an incident at a stadium, his team, all in dark suits in front of screens, can “monitor, put other stadiums on different alert levels and take precautions, all at the same time.” “One can be evacuated and in another we can secure the perimeter and stop people from going inside,” Abdulrahiman said.
“We have our eyes on the ground, we can see all 15,000 cameras in the eight stadiums.” The monitors can show how many people are in any stadium at the same time and all nearby subway trains and buses. “You can push content to the video screens in the corridors for any scenario where you want to communicate with the fans,” Abdulrahiman said. Announcements can be made in one or all eight stadiums at the same time.
Any alarm in a stadium immediately lights up on the screens and the count down starts immediately. Monitors can also call on virtual models of each stadium to find the best way to get to each room or piece of equipment, should there be an alert or a broken pipe. “What you see here is a new standard, a new trend in venue operations, this is our contribution from Qatar to the world of sports. What you see here is the future of stadium operations,” Abdulrahiman said.

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