Rigorous security in place for Obama
Unprecedented security measures will be in place at KTH Royal Institute of Technology on Wednesday when U.S. President Barack Obama visits. Key parts of the campus were sealed off on Monday evening to prepare for the arrival of the President and his entourage.
“For the Swedish Police, this is the largest-ever increase in security for a foreign state visit, and of course for us at KTH,” says Lena Edvardsson, Security Manager at KTH.
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry first informed the university of the possibility of a U.S. presidential visit a few weeks ago. Ever since KTH emerged as an increasingly likely place for Obama’s visit, the Swedish Security Service, has been on campus examining security in buildings and outdoor spaces.
Edvardsson has been in continuous contact with the Foreign Ministry, The Swedish Security Service, the Swedish Police and the U.S. Secret Service to develop a plan with security measures.
On Monday, the university announced street and building closures and other restrictions on the Campus. That same evening central parts of the campus were closed altogether. From Tuesday evening until the U.S. president leaves the university on Wednesday afternoon, multiple addresses on Teknikringen and Drottning Kristinas väg will be closed off .
Lena Edvardsson cannot say exactly where on the KTH campus Obama will go, nor who will be involved or how large the presidential entourage will be.
A fleet of 40 to 50 vehicles
According to police, the Obama entourage will be extensive. A fleet of 40 to 50 vehicles is expected to travel from the airport when the president arrives in Stockholm on Wednesday morning.
A total of 2,000 police officers in Stockholm are involved in the security around Obama’s visit. Police patrols have been a constant presence on campus, and will increase considerably on Wednesday.
During the visit, the U.S. president, joined by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, will meet KTH President Peter Gudmundson and some KTH researchers who are active in the research of renewable energy. Journalists have been invited to document the visit but Obama is not scheduled to do anything else on the Campus.
Nearly 55,000 people reached via Facebook
KTH’s PR work for the visit was aimed at raising research in renewable energy and to convey to the world the KTH community’s joy over the President chose to visit KTH during his state visit. Information has gone out both through the website and social media.
The first Facebook message the news of Obama’s visit reached more than 55,000 people, which beats the previous record by a wide margin. Articles on the KTH website about Obama's visit have received more than 30,000 visits since last Friday.
Annika Engström , Head of the Communications Group at KTH, says the results are very good, especially given the limitations that surrounded the work of communication .
“We want to give a picture of the outstanding contributions made by KTH researchers,” Engström says.
“For safety reasons, we have not been able to pinpoint the specific researcher whom Obama will meet or what will happen during the rest of the visit. Instead, we have gone out wide in our marketing, talking about our research in the renewable energy field,” she says.
Engström says that marketing efforts began before it was confirmed by the White House that Obama would visit KTH during his state visit. It was important to get started with the PR work - whether or not the president really would have come to KTH, she says.
“We know that Barack Obama is interested in renewable energy, and we wanted to give him and the outside world a picture of the outstanding contributions made at KTH in this area. This has been a unique opportunity for us to increase the visibility of KTH's research and strengthen our brand.”
Some 15 Swedish media are invited to attend Obama's KTH visit. Among the major national media organizations, KTH’s student news magazine, Osqledaren, also received accreditation. “We are very excited about this," Engström says.