What do you do as a profession?

What do you doNow there’s a question I get asked a lot.  Reasonable question.  Honestly asked.  Pure curiosity.  Not always the easiest to answer.

So how have I answered that question in the past?  I’ve tried the formal route: “I’m a consultant that specializes in Security Management, Risk Management and Emergency Management”  Usually followed by the next question of, so what really is all that?  Then I of course would dive in to explain each segment of my statement.

So I changed it up.  “I save companies time, money, liability, I inconvenience some but hopefully help to save lives”  Well that peaked the interest of many.  The money and liability statement peaked the interest of the business crowd whilst the saving lives peaked everyone’s interest.

DefencemanI was at a personal engagement and amongst the various conversations about this and that, that were totally unrelated to anyone’s work, I made a slightly humorous comment about doing one thing so that we can accomplish another and the gentleman said “…and that from a security guy…trying to figure out all the angles…” and then he said this “…it’s like knowing where the puck is going to be”  A wow went off in my head.

You see, as a much younger person I was quite heavily into organized sports, especially hockey and I played defence.  In fact I played right defence but shot left.  Another story for another time.  But to be a good hockey player you need to anticipate where the puck is going to be.  So either you can intercept it from an opponent or accept a pass from a teammate, or block the shot, or be able to take that winning goal shot.

Much of what I do is trying to figure out what is going to happen, how best to get it done, how people are going to react and what is the best way to get them to do what they need to do.  Anticipating where the puck is going is a skill set that I discovered and honed whilst playing hockey.  Bobby Orr was one of my childhood idles and in my opinion was one of the greatest hockey players that did just that.  That made him a great defenceman.

broomBut I had another recent related experience while at Spanish class.  Yes I took a conversation Spanish class in hopes to learn another language a little better than I know it now.   Anyways, it was a conversation with my Spanish instructor in how she delivers her lessons.  She hopes not to blow through content and would rather her students learn and understand the structure of the language rather than just learning how to say words, whilst not understanding the basics and having a base to build from  Which of course, you guessed it, reminded me of when I was again a younger man learning weightlifting.  For the first month my weightlifting coach (Charlie Arnett – great guy, huge, but the kindness and  one of the most gentle hearted men I know) only allowed me to lift a broom stick for the first month of training.  What! The basics and techniques needed to be learned first before he would let me move on to anything else

So what does Spanish and weightlifting have to do with this?  Back to what I do as a profession…I review what your company, organization have in place and I take the basics (known best practices and standards) and I apply them to what your company, organization has ( or even create new), overlaying the knowledge of where the company, organization is, what your business does, and what your needs are.  Put that all into either your Security procedures, your Emergency preparedness training or your Emergency Response Plans.

standards

I assist your company, organization in figuring out what it’s broom stick is, what will be it’s foundation.  All the while listening, writing, reviewing, coaching, and delivering the company, organization a product that will then allow your company, organization to work with it and begin to see where the puck is going to be.

Plan the Work (creating the broom stick foundation). Work the Plan (learning and honing the skills to see where the puck is going to be)

Impressionable Security Culture Maintenance

impressions-hand-prints

Pretty hefty title to the article.  So what does it mean?  Let first start by tearing it apart.

Impressionable and at the very least the root word Impression.  Impressionable means to be easily influenced.  Impression is often defined as or something like an effect, feeling, or image retained as a consequence or end result of an experience.

Security Culture.  So many of you may work in a corporate environment that has a dominant security culture.  That’s been created either by way of processes that needed to be followed such as your physical access privileges or by way of expectation whereby security violations socially and morally unacceptable in the group.

Maintenance.  The process of preserving something or a certain condition.  So in the context of this article, maintaining a security culture.

 

So does what does this image say to you?  (For those who don’t recognize this device its a panic station.  Push a button, summons security to your location.  Many educational institutions have the deployed across their campuses and quite often integrate them into their video surveillance systems.)

panic stationMy immediate impression is that this is not valued.  This is not needed.  Especially when the refuge container is only five feet away, this device has been given the same value and purpose. This is a very expensive yet convenient drink holder.  A convenient shelf.

So why is that?  The message about…

what this is, what it is to be used for, why it’s there, why it’s needed, it’s value

…is not clearly expressed to the entire environment.

Let me describe the environment a little more.  This particular device is situated at the front door area of a prominent university in Canada (had I posted the original daylight photo you’d probably know where this is, also goes to show you that the garbage was there when I returned many hours later).  Sure the garbage was put there by lazy individuals who were most likely if asked “in a hurry”.  But this is at the front door and the fact that it was at the front door really doesn’t matter.  So when visiting this campus this is my first impression of what the safety and security culture or attitude is.  There isn’t one, at best its not strong.  This may or may not fizz some parents dropping off their kids to go here but may have stuck in the memories of many, including the students, visitors (as I was) and even visiting emergency services personnel.

So why do we accept it?  Listen, there was an agreed need to have such a device placed in dozens and dozens of locations at this particular campus.  I know that similar locations have been tagged with graffiti, notices about parties and so on.  I don’t mean to pick on this particular educational institutions because this sort of behavior happens on corporate campuses also.

My point in this rant…if you’re going to find the need to have these devices or many other safety and security devices, there needs to be a culture of understanding as to why they need to be there, what the devices are to be used for and that the need for everyone to ensure that they are readily available, free from obstruction, and free from unwanted distraction.  It’s not just the safety and security departments job to make this happen, its the faculty’s, the student body, visitors.  Anyone who appreciates the value of what this represents.  If the buy in exists throughout out and is maintained throughout, the impressions will last a lot longer.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Pay Attention

Pay Attention

So I’m fortunate enough to get to do some traveling with my work and get to see many an interesting place, work with incredibly passionate and hard working individuals for several large organizations and institutions.

I’m also asked about the small organizations or even just some residential services.  So I put some thought into it and I’ve put together some services for the small business/entrepreneur type organizations but nothing really for the residential side of things.  Until I went for a drive locally.  This rant will be as long as the drive was.  I still don’t don’t have any services for the residential side of things but I definitely have some advice.

So many homeowners install security/intrusion alarms.  We get them for only a handful of reasons;

  1. Recent break-in to our home
  2. Recent birth of a child
  3. Recent break-in to our neighbor’s home
  4. Recent purchase(s) of valuable items (eg; jewellery, electronics, antiques)
  5. Recent death in a relative that resided with us

There are other personal reasons but you get the idea.  Many reasons revolve around one of the above themes.

So you’ve listened to the sale person’s pitch, you liked it, you buy it, you have it installed it works.  Warning labels go on the windows, maybe a lawn sign out front, the hole nine yards.  So you go about your business keeping your property clean and in order, ensuring the labels are visible to act as the deterrent to any unwanted activity.

Question.  Has your alarm installation company or your alarm monitoring company done the same?  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I drove pass a local alarm installation/monitoring company’s office only to see that they had no warning labels in the window and that there business sign out front had been tagged with graffiti.  Are you kidding me?  The alarm company wasn’t even paying attention to what was happening on their own property.  How are they able to in good conscience give you advice on how you are to maintain yours to deter unwanted activity?

Here’s the advice.  Before you buy, visit their office.  See what security devices, tools or aids they are using on their property.  Ask if it all works.  Request a demonstration of the equipment if possible.  Is it the shoe cobbler story?  Everyone’s shoes are better than theirs.  These aren’t shoes we’re talking about, these are security and life safety devices we’re talking about.  If it’s important to you it should be extremely important to the company selling it to you.

I can also appreciate that there is a small portion of the market that is often referred to as the “one-truck, one-installer’ organization.  Nothing wrong with them, know several.  Their truck is their rolling office.  Does it look maintained?  Quickly peering into it, do you see client information just thrown about inside the cab of the truck?

If they’re not willing to maintain their security, how well or attentive are they going to be to yours.

Wow, haven’t ranted like that in a while.  Thanks for listening.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

 

You know what you just did, right?

You know what you did, right?

So I’m going to do a lot in this post to “protect the innocent” or is the uninformed, but if I get to descriptive, you’re intelligent people you might just figure out where I was.

So I have an appointment at what could be, well it is considered a government infrastructure location.  So this location was pretty centralized within the city.  To add to it, it had nothing on the perimeter that would greatly attract attention to it.  I mean no armed guards patrolling the facility, turrets with with spot lights or a multi-tracking surveillance system with bio-metric analysis for access.

So that you get the picture…pretty plain.

So I have a scheduled appointment.  So as I’m waiting outside of the facility when what I can only assume was an employee of the facility, not my contact, approached me, a brief conversation determining the reason why I was there and boom…I’m in.  No call to verify, no reach out to their colleague, no text, no email not even a yell down the hall.  You get the picture.

So I’m passed the perimeter access, in through a few interior access doors and now I’m meters away from the heart of this building, the reason for it’s existence.  The reason for it’s existence, I’ll leave out.  So I’m placed in what can only be described really as an employee hang out or break area…not even in a monitored waiting area or lobby.

Oh I forgot to add that I was 15 minutes early for my appointment.  Was actually going to take the time to study the outside of the facility a little more but that really didn’t happen.

So there I sit and wait.  Five minutes before the appointment happens I receive an email:

I’m really sorry but something has come up and I won’t be able to make it to our appointment.  I’ve been pulled away to another facility.  I hope you haven’t been waiting outside the building too long.  I apologize.  Can we reschedule?

So a couple things.  Here I was in this building, not being monitored in any way from where I’m sitting only meters away from the belly of the beast.  My contact had not been informed that I was there.  The other employee took my word on face value.  Better yet I was given access without any verification, scrutiny, identification verification…I mean nothing.

So wow.  I don’t let anyone in my house unless I’ve come to some satisfaction I know who they are, why they’re there and what the intent of their visit is…family excluded.  Well most of them.

So where’s the failure.  Pretty obvious.  There is no security culture engrained into this facility.  There’s no belief that security is everyone’s job.  There may not be any access control policies…well l know there is, it’s not that enforced as I learned.

A simple risk assessment on the situation really held no weight.  So if i was on the on side of the team I would have just figured out how to get in again, but even better I was in already.  I might have just been able to go and do enough damage to hurt or even cripple this facility.  And walk away.  As far as my contact was concerned I was still outside or on my way.  The individual who let me in knew who I was to see, and the reason for it but never asked my name.

So lesson.  Make sure everyone knows what the policy is.  If you have appointments and can’t make it, contact someone on your team to make sure that this person is either not in or if they are in they get out.  Oh yeah…I let myself out.

Work on fostering a security culture, it is a  mind shift but it is beneficial and you don’t even need to be an infrastructure site to foster this type of environment.

As I always say, Plan the Work, Work the Plan.

 

The eyes have it.

In the shadow of 9/11, in the wake of the Arab Spring, rioting in the UK and various other global events either classified as terrorism, freedom uprising or just misguided youth, one industry that has been constant and growing is video cameras.

Whether its been surveillance or sousveillance we capture billions of images and stream days upon days worth of video daily.  Here are the distinctions between the two;

Surveillance (in the context of this article) :observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment (such as CCTV cameras); it is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people and often in a surreptitious manner.

Sousveillance (in the context of this article): typically involves community-based recording from first person perspectives, without necessarily involving any specific political agenda, whereas inverse-surveillance is a form of sousveillance that is typically directed at, or used to collect data to analyze or study, surveillance or its proponents (e.g., the actions of police at a protest rally).

So where is it all lead?  Interesting article on the Post 9/11 surveillance.