MWC: Security Update

5:30 AM -- Following our article about the upcoming Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona (February 2009), we've received an email update from the show's organizer, the GSM Association (GSMA) , concerning security issues. (See GSMA: Bullish on Barcelona.)

If you've been to the show during the past few years, you'll know that pickpockets and bag snatchers are a very real problem, so the GSMA has been addressing such issues.

So here's what the association has to say about Barcelona and its security measures.

Barcelona, in general, is an extremely safe city with very low levels of crime. However, it is true that an event like the Mobile World Congress does attract petty crime, and this is what we’re tackling by putting in extra security measures. In 2008, only 1 percent of attendees, at most, were affected by crime.

The whole city has pulled together to tackle both perception and incidents in a way that is truly unprecedented for an event in Barcelona.

Extra security measures for 2009 include:

Venue security improvements
  • Improved visibility of police stations. There will be two police stations onsite in 2009 compared with one in 2008
  • Improved security signage plan with banners pointing to the police station from main areas
  • The entire site will have CCTV
  • Increase on the number of police presence inside the venue
  • Extra police presence in the morning of the first day of the event during registration
  • Access security will be greatly enhanced onsite. Registration upgrades and an improved pass blacklisting system for lost and stolen passes will also help tighten up substantially.

    Offsite security improvements
  • Implementation of a 24 hour security hotline for attendees of the Congress affected by crime in the city (not just in the Fira venue)
  • Increase in number of police officers outside the venue
  • Increase in police presence around the venue in Plaza Espanya and Rius i Taulet street
  • Visible police presence in other locations around the city such as Avda Paral.lel, Plaza Cataluña and Las Ramblas
  • Reinforcement of police inside the metro at Plaza Espanya with special attention to the opening and closing hours of the event each day.

  • One thing the GSMA doesn't mention, maybe because it doesn't want to seem rude, is the number of MWC attendees who wander around Barcelona city center late at night still wearing their show badges. And that's just asking for trouble.

    So here's a suggestion: If you're at the show in February and you see a middle-aged man in a suit in a bar near the Ramblas late at night wearing his MWC badge around his neck, have a (polite) word...

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

    Old Telco 12/5/2012 | 4:13:27 PM
    re: MWC: Security Update Inside the venue you should be aware enough to keep your things. Where the big problems are is on the subway (huge pickpocket issues) and the restaurants around the venue.

    Over the past 2 years at MWC our company had multiple (more than 4) laptops stolen (2 from restaurants within walking distance to the venue), and I know of at least 4 people who had wallets, purses, or cellphones lifted while on or going to/from the subway. That is a lot more than 1%.

    The visible police are needed on the subways and walking around town, not stationed at the MWC venue.
    millomar 12/5/2012 | 3:24:42 PM
    re: MWC: Security Update I have been in Barcelona for each of the three times the show has been there. Each year someone in have known directly has had a laptop stolen. This has lead to considerably difficulties not just for the person whose property has been taken.

    I have had someone attempt to scam me to put down my bag so that it could be swiped.

    All of these things happened outside the venue.

    Extra police are going to help this how? I guess that they can't make it worse.

    All they seem to be doing is to make it easier to report a loss so that you can claim more quickly on travel insurance.

    I have yet to work out the point of the peremptory search that they conduct on those who volunteer for it on the way into the show. By timing you movement through the door you can easily avoid a search. What, precisely, are they looking for? More to the point if they were to rigorously inspect passes and documentation.

    And a young lady pinched me when I was running up La Ramblas one morning.

    I don't see that the "security" measures announced will make the slightest difference to the security of attendees.
    digits 12/5/2012 | 3:24:41 PM
    re: MWC: Security Update Other people have questioned the 1% figure too... it seems many people have had an unfortunate experience in Barcelona during the past few years.

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