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In this week’s bulletin, Charlie discusses his thoughts from his recent security conference in Rotterdam and gives an insight into the use of autonomous technology.

This week, I have been in Rotterdam at the ASIS European Conference. ASIS, for those who are not familiar with the organisation, is a professional organisation for security professionals. It issues certifications, standards, and guidelines for the security profession and has a very active chapter in London. I thought this week, I would share some thoughts on the conference.

The conference tagline was “From Risk to Resilience”. What I find, going to conferences like the BCI conference, which we have been going to for years, is they are very much a window into an industry – what’s new, who’s selling what, and the numbers attending, are representative of the general state of an industry. If you typically think of a security conference, you would expect there to be manned guarding suppliers, CCTV companies, and physical security providers, such as fencing, and locks and barriers. This conference was very different, with almost 70-80% of vendors selling some sort of software. The people not selling software were consultancies, such as PlanB Consulting, Crisis 24, and PWC Germany.

There was a CCTV company, but they were very much selling the next generation of CCTV, rather than anything standard. They claimed to have just won the contract to upgrade the Scottish Parliament. Two companies were selling automated exercises, a couple were selling response software, and another selling bug detection – espionage bug detection! The biggest number of software sellers were companies selling traveller-monitoring software so you can track travellers, and if they are in trouble, they can report this to their organisation through an app. Alongside traveller monitoring, many of them were also selling threat intelligence. By using analysis, monitoring, and AI, they watch events developing in a country, and then they can warn their clients about them and areas to avoid, or if they need to evacuate staff. I suspect as people start travelling again, those monitoring, warning, and response companies, want to get a slice of the new market for supporting travellers.

Like the business continuity profession, security professionals don’t really have a model and a definition for resilience as far as I could see. They see it as the future, hence the strapline for the conference, and want to perhaps position the security function from low tech, low wage and physical, to something which is more intelligent, software driven, and perhaps taking on wider resilience activities, rather than just security. Again, like business continuity, they recognise cyber as the greatest threat at present to most organisations, and they want to play their role in defending the organisation, but they are not really sure how to go about it. Lots of budget, time, and effort, is going into cyber security and I suspect they would also like some of the budget and kudos which goes with being responsible for the defence against cyber-attacks.

Lastly, I wanted to mention a company I spoke to called Azur Drones. They describe themselves as being one of the world leaders in drone-in-a-box solutions for surveillance and inspection. They use their drones to protect large industrial sites such as refineries or petrochemical plants. The drone lives in a base unit, air-conditioned in Dubai, and heated in Norway. When a society controller has an alarm, or is informed of an intruder, he tasks the drone to go and take a look at the area. The positions the drone flies to are pre-determined and so they act like an additional camera. The security operator doesn’t fly the drone, it flies to the predetermined position, and then the operator can operate its cameras to investigate the alarm. The drone can react a lot quicker than a human who has to jump in a car and investigate. If it is a large site, then this can take some time and, by then, the intruder has gone or moved further within the site. Once the alarm is investigated, the drone automatically flies itself back to its base station, and puts itself on charge ready for the next deployment. I thought this was an excellent way of using autonomous technology and can save on manpower, and increases alarm reaction speed. The drone can also carry detectors and could also detect gas or radiation leaks. I always like to go to a trade show and see a bit of clever and purposeful technology in action. I thought this was a really good idea! If you would like to learn more about Azur Drones, visit their website here.  

Time will tell if we get a good return on investment from the conference, but I can say that it was good to meet old colleagues, and to see what’s happening in the security industry.

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