Michael Padilla-Pagan Pay
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
In my role as the CEO Al Thuraya Consultancy but also a former military officer I spend a large amount of my time travelling around the Middle East and Africa region, discussing security and visiting customers but also traveling and using hotels, industrial facilities, airports and even railways.
Over the last 10 months, I have compiled a list of my top 5 security concerns, witnessed across different asset types and their operational processes:
1. Unprotected Critical Assets - critical facility’s assets and dependencies, such as gas supply compressors, fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps and HVAC systems, should be protected from intruders who might tamper with them, causing an incident that could vary in severity. I frequently discover such crucial building assets located in insecure areas or worse, in locations that would be considered a danger to public safety.
2. CCTV System Design - quite often, I discover examples of a disconnect between the architectural vision of a property and CCTV design and installation. I have seen CCTV cameras installed but not connected but also installed the wrong way around, meaning they monitor a wall instead of a wide angle area, and locations in which state of the art CCTV cameras have been installed, but when a nearby door is opened, the field of view is completely obstructed, you have to ask yourself why? In certain countries, Engineers design where the cameras should be placed, and the use of a security consultant is not even considered as the countries codes and compliance requirements are out of date.
3. Cluttered Stairwells - emergency escape routes save lives, and stairwells in tall buildings are a particularly important example of such a route. In properties where storage requirements have not been properly considered, I often find stairwells being used to house furniture, boxes and other equipment. This is simply unacceptable and could mean the difference between life and death in the case of a fire.
4. Unmonitored Access - it is important to have a full picture of every individual who enters the property, and, in the case of a hotel, this includes guests, staff, contractors and delivery personnel. If guests and staff are monitored front of house, but a delivery van can access the rear of the property and enter with a potentially hazardous package undetected, the efforts front of the house are completely undermined.
5. Unmonitored Critical Systems - overall, best practice requires there to be a central command & control operation complete with a smart management system that can monitor critical life safety and security systems, including CCTV, the Fire Panel, Lift Alarms and Intruder Detection Systems. It's all very well installing these systems as part of a box ticking exercise, but if these are not continuously monitored, the systems are rendered useless.
Having read this, you may very well ask, “after all this, why are you not locked at home?”, “why do you continue to put yourself at risk?” I can guarantee that I have no desire to end my life prematurely and fall victim to some random person’s Hollywood inspired security vision (no, it is not that easy to kick down a door with a kick) but I AM a firm believer that everyone can improve, through guidance, mentoring, knowledge, experience and -most importantly- an OPEN mind, ready to notice, process, absorb and transform the ample data we all have available. So bear with me in this, and while risk is omnipresent, we may reach a point, where safety and security are too!