Web Summit Rio is the largest tech event in Brazil. The first edition will be held in May, in Rio Centro, Barra da Tijuca, the city West Zone. It will gather more than 20,000 people that will discuss the future of the tech industry, debating innovative ideas and technologies. As one of the most touristic cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro tends to attract many events like this one. However, this “talent” is constantly hampered by security risks, which are as well known as the city’s natural beauties.

The Summit

From 1 to 4 May, the Web Summit Rio will unite thousands of people, 500-plus investors and 750-plus startups to hear speakers eager to share expertise, have a great networking opportunity with entrepreneurs, and debate proprietary software that can maximize experiences. The event is promoted by the same group that has gathered half a million people across Web Summit in Lisbon, Collision in North America and RISE in Asia.

Rio’s Relation With Big Events

The Summit is the second big international conference held in the same spot in less than a month. The previous was the largest and most important defense and security fair in Latin America, LAAD. With its centuries-old history, cultural relevance and natural beauties, Rio has attracted more and more events. In addition, after the infrastructure improvements brought by the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, its relevance as a destination for such activities grew even more.

On the other hand, the security conditions created during these sports events were maintained by temporary special operations. When they came to an end, the extra personnel, especial teams, additional equipment and all the planned protection structure was removed. Thus, the city was “alone” again to face the same problems, and violence returned to its routine, fluctuating according to a series of factors.

Web Summit and Rio’s Security Conditions

At the moment, when the Web Summit is about to take place, the city is once again passing through a negative scenario, with worsening security conditions, which can be verified through incidents and statistics. The context pose particular risks for those attending the fair, due to the participants’ lack of knowledge about the region.

Since mid-January, the major criminal groups operating in Rio Metropolitan Region have intensified an already violent dispute over territoriesThere are four major regions currently in conflict.

Around Barra da Tijuca, the Red Command, the Militias, and the Pure Third Command are fighting for the following favelas: Tirol, Muzema, Tijuquinha, Cidade de Deus and Gardênia Azul.

On the boundary between the North and the West Zones, the Red Command and the Militias are fighting for the following favelas: Morro do Dezoito, Bica e Fubá, Barão, Baronesa, Chácara Flora, Chacrinha e São José Operário, Saçu, Covanca and Jordão.

In Penha and around it, the Red Command and the Pure Third Command are fighting for the following areas: Cinco Bocas, Guaporé, Quitungo, Cidade Alta, Pica-pau, Parada de Lucas, Penha Circular e Vigário Geral.

In the Baixada Fluminense, the Red Command fights the Militias and the Pure Third Command for the following areas: Km 32 (Nova Iguaçu), São Simão and Torre (Queimados).

Rio Latest Statistics – First Two Months of 2023

The results of these conflicts are seen on the first criminal statistics released by the Rio de Janeiro Public Security Institute this year. In the Integrated Public Security Region 2 (RISP 2), which covers most of the neighborhoods where the conflicts are reported, intentional homicide increased by 19%; death by intervention of a State agent, by 62%; and violent lethality rate – registers cases of intentional homicide, bodily injury followed by death, robbery, death by intervention of a state agent -, by 24%.

Rio Statistics – 2022

The numbers from 2022 show a wider scenario with criminal trends that go beyond the armed conflicts between the gangs. In the capital, intentional homicides increased a by a small margin of 4% (792 to 823), probably reflecting an intensification in armed conflicts between gangs.

In terms of crimes against property, pedestrian robbery, one of the most common and potentially dangerous crimes, fell by 3%, even though small, a positive result. On the other hand, the number of cell phone robberies increased by 21%, indicating the continued interest of criminals in this device, which carries a high potential for profit, beyond the simple resale of the device or its parts. With the popularization of bank apps, digital accounts, and the simplification of money transfer through the implementation of Pix, with a stolen cell phone, robbers can steal savings from their victims accounts and even their personal information, which will be used later for several types of scams.

This trend of appreciation of cell phones by criminals is verified in the thefts reported as well. Cell phone thefts increased by 123% from 2021 to 2022. This number, associated to many other categories, such as thefts in public transport (+53%), vehicle theft (+18%), pedestrian theft (+64%) and more, were responsible for the 53% increase in total cases of theft.

Another relevant rise in cases occurred with express kidnappings, which went up by 98% in the city. Here too, the invention of Pix, cell phones and the digitalization of people’s financial lives is probably an important factor.

For many years robbers and thieves started to focus on ATMs, instead of risking an attack directly against the banks. Many have also preferred to rob people that had just withdrawn large amounts of money, the famous “saidinha de banco” or robbery after withdrawal. Many criminals would also prefer to quickly kidnap someone with the intention of forcing the victim to withdraw money through an ATM, instead of risking a traditional and riskier type of kidnapping.

All the crimes above have decreased from 2021 to 2022:

  • ATM robbery -40%
  • Bank robbery -20%
  • Robbery after withdrawal -30%
  • Forced money withdrawal -13%
  • Traditional kidnapping -100%

The combination of Pix transactions and bank apps on cellphones likely impacted this scenario, since criminals found a new way to “access” the money stored in the banks. They attack their victims on the streets or attract them through many ways, even by using dating apps, and then force them to transfer their money using Pix.

The rise in the number of scams has been reported for a few years. It is likely a global phenomenon connected to the social isolation and the digitalization of life. In the digital world, scammers found a great environment to catch new victims. Thus, the city of Rio has just continued to follow the trend when in 2022 it accumulated a 64% increase in incidents registered.

Rio de Janeiro is known for the several organized crime groups in its territory. The major groups, like the militias, are known for obtaining resources through different illegal methods, such as extortion. Residents, microentrepreneurs, and even large companies can be targeted. Even though many victims of extortion prefer not to file a complaint due to fear of retaliation, the total number of this type of crime reported has increased by 48% in 2022.

Security Recommendations

Considering the conditions above, those attending the Web Summit should be more exposed to the risk of Rio when moving through the city. Therefore, it is important to take a few precautions when going to the fair:

  • Avoid moving through the city alone
  • Prefere to move with taxis or to use transfer services
  • Always prefer taxis that are part of cooperatives
  • Select hotels in the Barra da Tijuca
  • The event organization recommends three hotels: Windsor Marapendi, Windsor Oceanico and Lagune Barra Hotel
  • Avoid regions affected by the gangs conflicts that are near the fair location: Curicica, Cidade de Deus, Anil, Itanhangá and Rio das Pedras
  • If you decide to visit the South and the Central Zone, where most of the tourist locations are found, prefer to go through Estrada Lagoa Barra
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