2020 Vision Archive - 2016

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Feb 29

Biometrics- The Future Of Security?

biometric fingerprint

In the past, Biometrics has been deemed too complicated and too expensive. 2020 Vision has been testing Biometric security to see if it can now genuinely replace the traditional smart card solutions.

Read more…

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Feb 26

Why Professionalism is Paramount

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Feb 24

How Exactly should a ‘Safe City’ Function Today?

In my opinion the safe city objective is about creating a secure, pleasant and welcoming environment for a city’s inhabitants to prosper and enjoy improved quality of life.

Part of the wider ‘smart cities’ ethos, it’s about developing sustainable and supportive environments which are safe, responsive and effective to the needs of their user groups.

The concept has captured the imagination of governments and city leaders as our cities grapple with the challenges of urbanisation.

More than 50% of the global population lives in cities, up from 34% in 1960. As city populations swell further, it places huge burdens on governments and municipal leaders responsible for the governance and protection of growing infrastructure and assets from an increasingly diverse and unpredictable risk landscape & including natural disasters, criminal acts, terrorist threats, civil unrest, and socioeconomic rifts.

Eroding social cohesion, which creates feelings of anonymity and fuels violent acts, jeapordises prosperity and wellbeing and must be mitigated against.

Real-time intelligence

As a security integrator, my role in addressing these issues is providing real-time intelligence to facilitate the suitable response from appropriate emergency services or authorities to improve community safety and reduce the fear of crime.

This is facilitated by designing and implementing technology-based solutions that raise situational awareness and aid law enforcement and city officials to better respond to criminal activity and manage disruptive incidents and emergency situations. It’s all about ‘knowing what’s going on so we can figure out what to do about it (Adam, 1993).

I believe ‘safe city’ objectives could be addressed by adopting C4i principals. A military term, C4i started life as C2 Command and Control and refers to the ability of military commanders to direct and control forces.

C4i extends this principal to command, control, communications, computers and intelligence. It’s basically a complex ‘system of systems’ generally using high technology, commercial, off the shelf equipment and devices (COTS) that apply to both military and civilian life.

In simplistic terms, C4i is about information superiority and using this information advantage to elicit the maximum efficient and appropriate response in a given situation.

The use of technology and human resources to gather relevant information and accurately communicate this information to appropriate human and technology assets should realise the application of appropriate responses and control measures to an event based on up-to-date intelligence.

Put simply, it’s all about delivering timely and comprehensive information to commanders and enabling them to disseminate it expediently to troops on the ground.

In the safe-city concept, these same principals apply. It’s all about what information we need to collect, when and where we need that information, who needs access to it, how does it get processed and what do we do with it and what decisions does it prompt?

Moreover, who has the authority to make the decisions and ensure they are executed correctly?

Breaking down C4i we can see that command and control is applicable to any incident, be it a simple crime, public demonstration or an explosion, terrorist act or natural disaster. In any given situation, someone needs to ‘take charge’ of overall command and act on it by organising resources and appropriate responses. This is highly relevant in the case of security, of course.

Gathering as much information as possible and communicating it to relative parties is vital towards realising the correct and appropriate responses. This is where the right technology comes into its own.

Control of devolved responses must be delegated to persons of authority within their own particular sphere of expertise. In a major incident such as an explosion this could be the police commander assuming overall command, with control delegated to a senior paramedic to treat injured parties and the fire chief to make an area safe, etc.

Finally, input from people involved and information gathered by various systems should deliver intelligence on which informed decisions can be made and ‘after-event’ lessons learnt.

Computing and communications equates to data gathering and processing technologies. For a security integrator this means on one hand the placement of cameras the eyes around a city to gather visual images (intelligence) from target areas, preferably in full HD or better.

Ideally this is supplemented by video analytics, configured to instantly detect and report exceptions to the norm (ie, build-up of crowds, entry/trespass to forbidden areas, left object detection, etc) or to recognise known faces or vehicle identification plates.

Of equal importance given today’s threats is the deployment of other relevant data gathering devices as, intruder and fire detection devices, access control, gunshot detection, flood warning sensors and even CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) detection systems. The list goes on.

Big Data

It also encompasses communication infrastructure to support data collecting devices and mining ‘big data’ to predict crime patterns.

These data gathering technologies make the system multi-dimensional and place fewer onuses on the control centre operator by automatically drawing his or her attentions to specific events or issues.

On the other hand, it’s all about the software that collects, correlates and analyses data, events and alarms from disparate security and information systems, then manages incoming information to identify real situations and their priority.

The safe city control centre approach will be more proactive in that the system alerts the operator and provides him/her with the ‘intelligence’ gathered by various systems and devices.

In other words, all relevant situation information needed to make informed decisions will be presented in a consistent and logical format (along with set response parameters for verification and resolution of the situation at hand) to various control room operators not to mention field operatives via portable display devices (tablets) providing them with ‘on the ground’ intelligence.

The safe-city concept presents a number of challenges and will involve public bodies engaging with all system stakeholders police and emergency services, council departments, retailers, chambers of commerce, transport operators, educational establishments and community safety groups, etc to facilitate multi-agency cooperation in developing operational procedures and response plans that mitigate the effects of disruptive incidents.

They also need to engage more fully with technology vendors and security integrators building up a stronger partnership rather than viewing them simply as suppliers. This would result in the provision of technology-driven solutions rather than simply CCTV systems.

This article was first published on IFSEC Global at: http://www.ifsecglobal.com/exactly-safe-city-function-today/

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Feb 22

What Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence Means for the Private Security Profession

Thirteen years on from the 9/11 attacks, which killed 3,000 people and caused $10bn-plus worth of damage, far from winning the ill-named War on Terror there has been a marked increase in terrorist attacks worldwide.

When US Navy Seals shot and killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 it failed to destroy Al-Qaeda in the way that killing a head of State would vanquish a regime.

Indeed, al-Qaeda is an ideology as well as an organisation, one which has capitalised on the violence and political upheaval plaguing Arab nations and the breakdown of security across North Africa to unite followers and affiliates under a common doctrine.

According to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the threat of radical Islam is growing and spreading across the globe.

Some analysts believe that Islamist militant groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, to name a few, have united under the black flag of al-Qaeda and are held responsible for a 150% rise in terrorist and insurgency attacks since 2009. This is destabilising both communities and states in an age of globalisation.

British jihadists

Although the vast majority of terrorist and insurgency incidents occur in the Middle East and North Africa, American intelligence increasingly signals threats against the US and her European allies. Based on the number of arrests for terrorist-related offences in 2013, Europol believe the threat, driven by western-born citizens travelling to fight for the militant Islamic cause in foreign conflicts, is likely to increase exponentially.

Indeed, more than 500 British jihadists are rumoured to have travelled to Syria to join the fighting. The worry is that these ‘terror tourists’ are being radicalised, trained in the use of bombs and weaponry and experienced in urban conflict.

What compounds this fifth column threat a term coined in WW2 to describe the enemy within is the move towards attacks on soft targets. Although prime targets remain within the aviation, petroleum and nuclear sectors, as well as significant national landmarks, the Nairobi siege, when Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabbah killed 61 people in an upmarket shopping mall, signal a decision to also focus on easier targets.

More recently, unclaimed bombings outside a hospital and markets in Jos, Nigeria have so far claimed 118 lives, while this month a bomb in the Chinese city of Urumqi killed 31 and wounded 94.

The kidnapping of 200 schoolchildren and their threatened sale as sex slaves by Boko Haram has signalled another new sinister approach. Some experts believe the flood of global media coverage actually boosts the terrorist cause with the oxygen of publicity.

Maximum media exposure

Two things are abundantly clearly: mostly aimed at targets in densely populated areas, these new tactics are relatively easy to execute and difficult to prevent. They also create maximum media exposure, as demonstrated in the recent attacks on Karachi Airport.

Terrorism is a complex geopolitical and social issue, as well as an emotive subject, way beyond my experience. However, from my perspective as a security professional responsible for protecting clients assets, it’s is a very real and challenging issue.

Fortunately, we in the UK have yet to witness mass suicide bombings. We haven’t yet suffered terrorism-related indiscriminate shootings, but the massacres in Dunblane and Cumbria have demonstrated the horrific impact of a Mumbai-style terrorist attack.

Although the UK has a long history of dealing with IRA terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism has so far been restricted to a small number of ‘backpacker’ bombs (such as in the 7/7 attacks) and car bombs fashioned for the Glasgow International Airport attack. This is testimony to the dedication and expertise of the UK security services and police.

As this worrying trend has shaped counter-terrorism strategy, public safety cannot be the sole responsibility of the government we are all at risk. All citizens and businesses must assume their share of responsibility in countermanding the scourge of terrorism.

So what effect does this have on the private security sector? And, it will have an effect, requiring new counter-measures.

Does the security industry need to raise its professional status in such an elevated-risk landscape? We’re not really equipped to deal with the threat, given our policing is by consent and largely carried out by unarmed police.

Are better-trained security personnel who can both spot potential attacks and better manage them required? Should we invest in greater target hardening and physical protective measures?

Are security system designers sufficiently qualified, and do installation and service teams have adequate training and knowledge to implement effective systems?

Do we need to upgrade to higher quality, more efficient video surveillance and improved personnel identity and access management?

What about introducing airport style scanners or car bomb checks for vehicles or instigating more intrusive security staff interventions? Can, and how do, we justify the funding required to implement the preventative measures required?

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Feb 19

Civil Unrest: Combating a Growing Problem