The Case for Physical Security Controls Keeps Growing
By the looks of it, bolstering the operational security of vulnerable physical assets, locations, and people has slipped off the radar of most corporate Boards and C-level executives, replaced by a laser focus on cyber security. But the relative underinvestment in physical security has its costs. After all, assets, be they physical or human, remain incredibly vulnerable to common security risks: terrorist attacks, workplace threats, violence, theft, counterfeiting, sabotage, trespassing, activist disruption, vandalism, and contamination.
What’s a place of mass gathering? And how do you know if you have the legal responsibility to protect the one you own or operate? The answers are more complex than you’d think. For starters, the risk designation, place of mass gathering, is extrinsic to the core function of the venue – contrast that with the term, critical infrastructure, which designates assets, systems, and networks vital to physical or economic security and/or public health or safety.
By now, safety and security managers have each built strong portfolios in the enterprise. Indeed, reporting hierarchies often reflect the importance the C-suite places on topline safety and security priorities, objectives like keeping employees safe at work or mitigating threats to facilities and people. In turn, businesses of all shapes and sizes, in all vertical markets, have implemented standalone safety and security management systems to pursue those objectives.
Many of the world’s best-known brands came under fire in 2018 while confronting unexpected or long-smoldering crises. Uber, for example, battled assault and abuse charges across its operations, while YouTube, Starbucks, and many of the very media companies uncovering workplace safety failures themselves faced stern tests to their security and public response protocols.
At the beginning of the decade, a glut of physical security management technologies flooded the market, purporting to reorient the industry away from its traditional command and control focus. While some of those solutions did, in fact, yield tangible benefits, the consensus today is that protective security technologies have a long way to go to ensure maximal security, in a timely manner, for people and physical assets. In particular, overwhelmingly hardware-intensive physical security management equipment still dominates the field. And those tools have largely proven unable to keep up with the physical security threat as it’s evolved.
It’s no overstatement to say that Woolworths is synonymous with the Australian supermarket. The mega-retailer accounts for some 80 percent of market share; its more than one thousand stores are fixtures in Australia’s (and New Zealand’s) cities, towns, and rural communities. But such thorough market domination does create operational challenges. Having so many stores means that Woolworths has to manage an incredibly complex supply chain, with extreme weather events increasing the risk of disruption. Not only that, security guards also have to monitor untold volumes of foot traffic, often traversing through public spaces.