Catalan police to use drones in MWC security operation

Terror threat level is high, set at four out of five, with annual Mobile World Congress just round the corner

Catalan police meeting about use of drones during Mobile World Congress (by ACN)
Catalan police meeting about use of drones during Mobile World Congress (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 22, 2018 12:32 PM

Security will be a key issue at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. For the first time ever, the Catalan police will incorporate the use of drones in the security measures throughout the event.

According to the force, known locally as the Mossos d’Esquadra (Mossos), the first flight in controlled airspace will take place on Monday February 26, when the congress kicks off. The security distance to Barcelona airport will be reduced to eight kilometres during the operation.

The security plans have been adapted, as the terrorist attack warning in Barcelona is high, currently set at level four out of five. In order to incorporate drones into the management of the safety of MWC, an aeronautical study was carried out.

An officer with a degree in radio communication with the airport’s control tower, while other members of the Mossos qualified as pilots will make sure airspace regulations are complied with.

By using drones in the monitoring of MWC, the police will be able to receive images and videos in real time in order to be able to respond accordingly. They will be coordinating directly, for the first time, with the Barcelona and Gava Control Centre of Air Traffic (ENAIRe). Drones have been used by the Mossos since 2012 in order to solve criminal investigations and other operations, but this will be the first time they work with ENAIRe.

Face recognition

The congress has a security program run in conjunction with the Catalan police and other international specialists. More protective barriers will be installed, as well as a pilot face recognition programme that will be carried out on some of the attendees.

John Hoffman, head of the Organization behind the event, GSMA, declared that they are very pleased with the security plan designed for the event, stating how they always seeks to be “state-of-the-art.”

A different strategy

Unlike previous years, this year’s Mobile World Congress is following a “different” strategy. This year the protagonists will be artificial intelligence as well as the future of mobile phones, and how new technologies can help complete United Nations objectives of development and sustainability.

One point of interest will be ‘Innovation City’ where future technologies such as a boxing bag connected to the so-called ‘internet of things’. There will also be solar-powered drones.

Parallel events

There will be various side events running parallel to the congress, such as Women4Tech and Young Mobile Festical. O’Hara noted that GMSA is working to increase female participation in Mobile World Congress, so that it exceeds 25%. Until now, it has always been below 20%.

Economic impact

More than 108,000 people, from more than 200 countries, are expected to attend this year’s edition, with more than 2,300 exhibitors. 170 government delegation will also attend the event.

The economic impact of the Mobile World Congress is also high, estimated at €471 million, with 13,000 temporary jobs also created thanks to the annual conference. Since the first Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the congress has generated €4.4 billion euros for the economy as well as 115,000 job posts.