The domestic security industry has always aimed to secure people and property from attacks or theft, but international terrorism has taken protection needs to a whole new level, writes John Davies. Terrorism and violent attacks were once predominantly aimed at Government, military or political establishments, but in an uncertain global political climate, being able to rapidly lock down facilities has risen to the top of any security wish list. That said, just how easy is it for most organisations to lock down their facilities at a moment’s notice?
The ability to enact a lockdown of security systems very much depends upon not only the individual components, but also the intelligent solutions used to oversee them. The integration of security systems has gone a long way towards making rapid lockdown easier to implement and control, with dynamic lockdown being a reality or possibility for many security networks that employ situational management control.
As an industry, the security sector can do much to raise the awareness of our customers with regards to using a lockdown facility. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) is now commonplace for a large percentage of security operators, and this is perfect for implementing lockdown procedures, with CCTV and intruder systems being able to automatically trigger access control at a moment’s notice. If an operator is already using these solutions, it’s relatively easy for them to employ lockdown using powerful situation control software.
What we, as an industry, need to be aware of is installations which lack this piece of joined up-thinking. Any businesses or organisation could be a target, and we have a responsibility to make sure security investments are being used to their full potential. Being able to automatically trigger a lockdown response is always preferable to a delay, which could be very dangerous indeed.
There’s also a wider issue at play here. Attacks in recent years have shown that terrorists and criminals may target geographical areas as much as individual sites. To help combat this threat, the UK Government runs the Project Griffin scheme which aims to encourage businesses and organisation to think and act together to prevent and tackle threats. The security industry has a key part to play in this, ensuring the customers we serve have solutions in place which not only look to minimise their own threats, but can also work in collaboration with (or at least in consideration of) their neighbours and public security services.
Planning for threats
Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in the mindset of the security operator in recent years has been the realisation that threats can become real very easily, and that you can never ‘over-plan’ to deal with them. Of course, some customers will still assume they are at low risk from intruders or attacks, but the truth is that, if security’s needed in any form, then the site is at risk.
The recent wave of terrorist attacks have tended to target places with large gatherings of people – stadiums, bars/restaurants and entertainment venues, etc. These are sites which require easy public access and this is exactly what makes them an ideal target for terrorism. These types of sites can learn a lot from the deployment of security by traditional users of high security – prisons, hospitals or airports, for example.
No doubt most large public spaces now deploy a degree of PSIM or fully-integrated technology, which means that security systems and access control will already be collaborating successfully. To achieve the right lockdown regime requires planning, and this is an area where, as security experts, we can really make a difference.
Installing a successful lockdown protocol is as much about design as implementation – understanding how intruders will move around a facility and what areas will prove to be crucial in repelling or containing them. Understanding the full picture and how technology can be used in conjunction with business plans and security protocols is something that needs expertise for it to be truly effective.
Communicating with security teams and the workforce
An important piece of the lockdown process isn’t just defending against or containing threats. It’s also about managing and communicating with the staff and visitors that could be vulnerable to it. While technology is vital in this equation, the human element cannot be underestimated.
When a lockdown is triggered there can be a good deal of potential confusion generated, especially for visitors. This is why the implementation of any security systems always needs to be in conjunction with staff training (both security staff and those in all other departments).
Much like preparation for fire or other emergencies, for example, it’s prudent to encourage our clients to train staff on what would happen in an intruder or lockdown situation. Integrated security technology is highly effective in working with other security or evacuation protocols, and the whole process needs to be considered as one.
With the lines between domestic and defence security blurring, the UK security industry is in a perfect position to take the lead and show the market just how beneficial our expertise is in the real world.
Terrorism and violent attacks are sadly a reality throughout the world, but integrated technology that’s already available (and often installed) is well placed to offer protection against a wide range of threats, often only awaiting the right advice and planning.
For advice on planning against and preventing current threats posed by terrorism, visit the UK Government’s National Counter-Terrorism Security Office website at: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-counter-terrorism-security-office
John Davies is Managing Director of TDSi