Biometric Testing for Workers on London Olympics Building Site

Over 100,000 construction workers on the 2012 Olympics venue in London will be subjected to biometric tests while they build the site. The two-tier system will scan hands and faces, and should be up and running by June this year, when work starts on the 50-acre site. And these measures, part of the $700 million security budget, will not just be for the building contractors, either.

Plans are also afoot to include biometric testing on the spectators when the games start, in the Summer of 2012—an estimated nine million people. The Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, John Armitt, claims that the system will be as easy as travelling on public transport (London-based readers will know, to quote esteemed philosophers Duran Duran, it's about as easy as a nuclear war.) "The gates will be like the Jubilee Line," he has been quoted as saying. "Put your hand down and it will open."

The biometric system is not the only hi-tech addition to the games' security. The policeman in charge of the games has gone on record as saying that London will need an additional half a million CCTV cameras to be put in place before the site opens for business. Yet again, the small matter of civil liberties is being brought into question.

While the head of Britain's main construction union, Ucatt, claims that he is fan-goo with the security system, "providing the ODA guarantee that the biometric data will not be passed on to any third parties and will be wiped once the project is complete," the ODA has not guaranteed that it will not pass on any information to government agencies.

How much of a logistical and planning nightmare this will be remains to be seen but, given the UK's success when it comes to building big things—the Millennium Dome, and Wembley for example—there is a strong possibility that we will be seeing the Olympic flame being lit at an opening ceremony some time in 2019. [Times Online]