International Terrorist Attacks bring Shift in Security Perspective
The November attacks in Paris, Beirut, Belgium and other parts of our world demand a more strengthened, stringent security solution across the globe. As a result, the perspective of security professionals is making a shift from the protection of high-priority areas and people to the growing need of safety for civilians. The change has already been easily identified through the actions of authorities in the days after the attacks.
The Paris attacks, in particular, draw out some distinctions that should be carefully considered when thinking about new solutions in security measures around the world. First, this attack was the first of its kind from ISIS outside the Middle East that indiscriminately targeted civilians. Yes, the attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine early this year were ruthless, but for the most part the violence was placed on the publication and a general sense of insecurity was not created. In other words, terrorism in the West was still considered something that was targeted at specific groups – not civilians who chose to be at a restaurant, sporting event or concert that come from all walks of life and from every corner of the world.
Second, all the targets in the latest attack were places of mass civilian gathering. Stade de France, which was hosting an international match, several restaurants and a concert venue, were all popular spots for a Friday night out in Paris. This has highlighted the importance of implementing stronger security solutions at a much smaller level that most assumed needed.
Third, the attack takes place as Europeans are facing an unprecedented immigrant crisis. Some reports indicate that one of the terrorist could have gotten across borders into France by means of identifying himself as an immigrant. This is likely to prompt Europe to implement stronger border control solutions.
Protection of Civilians
Security solution providers have, for a long time, been stressing the need for integrated solutions, customized to vertical-specific requirements that can offer holistic security. But more importantly, the attacks on Paris, Beirut and Belgium show the need to take advantage of information that the general public sends through their smartphones and similar gadgets.
Through citizen engagement, the general public should be able to provide information to public safety professionals, including reporting suspicious activities, natural disasters, terror attacks, crime, vandalism or similar issues.
Today’s technology allows for information to be relayed to the general public almost immediately. As a society, internet users have grown used to the idea of having pieces of data labeled “high priority” pushed into their foregrounds, whether it is through a smartphone notification or social media platform.
As an example of public internet spaces reacting to natural disasters and terrorist attacks, popular social media site, Facebook, created a way for the public to know if their family and friends in affected areas were safe. They call it the “Safety Check.” Using the location data from a mobile device, the site recognizes users who are in the area of the disaster or attack and prompt them with the question of, “Are you safe?” When the user answers, a post is generated and is sent into the timeline of the users friends, letting those on the platform know who is safe, not in the area or hasn’t responded to the message. Users have also used the site to share eye-witness accounts of the attacks. Several posts have gone viral with the stories of survivors and mourning the lives of those who died.
The world, at this heightened security level, is now experiencing an increasing need for the public to be able to communicate in the same way to proper authorities. Because of the amount of suspicious activity that happens away from the view of an officer, it is imperative for the public to be able to communicate what they’re experiencing instantaneously, and for the proper authorities to be able to harness this information and use it in a meaningful way.
Security at Mass Gatherings
In the days after the attack at Stade de France, countries around the world have stepped up security at sporting events and concert venues. The U.S. was on high-alert during National Football League games across the country, just two days after the attacks in Paris. Bomb sniffing dogs, state troopers and security checkpoints were used to ensure the safety of the football lovers.
Across the globe, Belgium called off a soccer match against Spain less than 24 hours before kickoff after the government raised the security threat level amid the investigation of the Paris attacks. The Belgian football federation said the decision was made after the government recommended that the game not be played.
While security at these kinds of events has always been vital, the heightened threat level has demanded that authorities be on high alert at events that gather large groups of people. Security officials have almost doubled the amount of protection at these events as a way to thwart any possible risks.
Since the release of information that one of the suicide bombers from the Paris attacks could have crossed borders while posing as a Syrian refugee, government officials have become hesitant to open up borders. State governors in the United States have taken it upon themselves to refuse refugees despite the deal President Obama made to let in 10,000 refugees in 2016.
“Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees - any one of whom could be connected to terrorism - being resettled in Texas," Texas governor, Greg Abbot, wrote in an open letter to the President. “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger. The reasons for such concerns are plentiful.”
While the United States internally battles with the permission to let in Syrian refugees, other countries, such as France, have shut down their borders altogether to avoid any more conflict with a supposed refugee.
The recent attacks across the world have confirmed our worst nightmare: an attack could happen anywhere and they are not just targeted toward a group anymore. In the last few days, we have already seen a shift on security measures. Professionals will continue to change their thinking from wide-spread security of high-priority groups to the protection of smaller areas and civilians. Places of mass gatherings, such as sporting arenas and concert halls, will see a rise in security as well as transportation units such as trains, planes and buses.
What have you noticed about the shift in security perspective? Let’s talk!
Posted by Sydny Shepard on Nov 17, 2015