The Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2014 World Cup, June 9, 2014. .
Israel may not be officially represented on the field when the FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday, but several Israeli companies will be playing a prominent role behind - and in some cases above - the scenes.
Tel Aviv-based Ceragon, for example, has been helping Brazil update its wireless infrastructure for both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
With Brazil committed to full 3G coverage by 2018, the company has made inroads into the crowded market over the last four years, racking up $200 million in sales.
Heading into the Fifa games, Ceragon equipment accounts for 30% of the wireless infrastructure in Brazil. In other words, nearly a third of all tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram photos and other social media uploads at the games will go through Israeli equipment.
“One of the reasons for our great success in Brazil, especially as the country prepares for the World Cup, lies in simplicity and ease of installing our equipment,” said Amit Anchikovsky, Director of South America Operations for Ceragon.
Wireless infrastructure, he said, was far easier to install than fiber-optics on Brazil’s diverse terrains.
Israel will also have a security role in the game.
Security company RISCO, headquartered in Rishon Letzion, will provide security management at the new 44,000-seat Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.
The group will be coordinating “hundreds of security IP cameras deployed in the stadium and its surroundings, lighting systems, gates, and PA system” through a command and control center.”
The $537 million stadium is one of 12 built for the event around Brazil.
“We are honored to have been selected to provide the security solutions for the Arena Pantanal for the 2014 World Cup and thereafter. Our professional teams are currently working together with the System Integrator, to ensure that all integrated systems work together seamlessly and efficiently to assure a successful and safe mega event,” said Michael Isakov, Managing Director RISCO Security Management Solutions.
Israel will also provide security from above. In March, Elbit systems won a contract with the Brazilian Air Force to supply its Hermes 900 drone for the games. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which Elbit says calls “a unique solution for intelligence missions, border protection, perimeter control of infrastructure and critical site,” will hover 30,000 feet above the games gathering security intelligence.
Ra'anana-based NICE Systems will also play a security role. On Monday, it announced that "a large city in Brazil" had tasked it with carrying out its security, linking 24 government agencies to real-time video surveillance. Operators will be able to monitor and manage security at the the stadium, hotels, roads, transit system, airport, and other locations, NICE said.
Until Israel can get a team into the World Cup, it can at least take comfort that some of its companies are partaking in the roughly $11 billion Brazil has poured into the games.
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