June 28, 2016

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Security in Crowded Places: Poor Communication an All-too-Common Failing

Photo: Kashfi Halford under CC BY 2.0

Photo: Kashfi Halford under CC BY 2.0

Of all the risks associated with security in crowded places, communication is the one area that is often at fault, an expert has told delegates at IFSEC 2016.

Scott Weiner, managing consultant at Atkins, a major security sector supplier, said this was the number one focus for threat and risk but it is not always done effectively enough.

“Everybody assumes that emails get read and verbal communication passes through but out of almost all of the risks that we look at, communications is often the area at fault.

“Things aren’t understood. Communication to low level employers and visitors is often at fault. They don’t know what they are supposed to do.”

The solution often lies in effective stakeholder engagement and management. Mr Weiner added: “We’ve been involved in several events around the world in the last four or five years and in every one of them, stakeholder management has been key.

“If there is a stakeholder that hasn’t been involved in the early stages, you may have to do the whole process all over again because they were not involved.”

Mr Weiner cited an example at the Olympic Games in London in 2012 when several shops were not involved in the stakeholder process.

A protest was sparked when a 10-foot barrier was erected in front of their shops just weeks before the event began. The shop owners then raised the issue at a political level and denied all planning permission for anything to go up.

“Without any permission for equipment to go in, the event can’t proceed, and all because a few shop owners were not included as stakeholders. They said if they had been told it wouldn’t have been an issue. They weren’t told and it was an issue,” Mr Weiner said.

Security planning is another key area that has to be included as early as possible. This should involve long discussions with stakeholders to make them aware of the impact of planning. The actual measures – what hardware is going to reduce the risk – is another consideration.

Mr Weiner told the audience that review and rehearse should not be underestimated either. “My experience has shown me that we should always test designs, the process and the measures but many people just do that once.

“It should be repeat, repeat, repeat because every time you do this you will find something new like an additional exploitation that wasn’t found before.

“Again communication is the word. Making sure people who are using the designs and processes know about the impact. Avoid complacency.”

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