By Andrew Brear, Director, Kinetic Six, Ltd
We have been asked several times whether some of today’s intelligent threat detection technologies, if deployed, could have prevented the recent horrendous and senseless attack on children and their parents at the concert in Manchester.
The answer is not a straightforward one, although for any manufacturer or provider of security technology to answer unequivocally ‘yes’ would be both unhelpful and insensitive. The last thing any grieving parent wants to hear is some security professional or technology firm claiming that they could have ‘prevented’ an attack from happening. And it is only natural for those bereaved to feel an urgent need to know whether some omission, fault or inadequacy has allowed a terrorist to succeed.
First, we must not lose sight of the one irrefutable fact, that the people who must bear sole responsibility for this atrocity are the terrorists themselves. A determined attack on an open society equally determined to exercise its freedoms will always be difficult to prevent. No technology is likely to ever offer a complete solution. However, technology will begin to play an important and growing role in managing the risk of an attack from succeeding, helping balance an operational requirement to monitor and potentially restrict human activity against the fundamental need for free association and movement.
How so? Technology solutions will be able to provide faster, better, more accurate information on which more confident decision-making can be based. Does any weapon detection solution do that? Absolutely; several offer viable options. One technology is from Patriot One, which offers a sophisticated ‘intelligent’ sensor that can learn an environment, recognize and report in real-time threats, such as concealed bombs, knives, guns, as the items pass through the monitored space. This technology offers security professionals important information in the detection of a weapon or other threat, allowing the security professional to act and defend against a threat.
Carefully placed and integrated with other security technologies, such as intelligent CCTV, assisting and augmenting well-motivated and trained security staff with proper procedures and protocols, weapon detection technologies could make the crucial difference in counter terror attacks. Technologies like this will make it much more difficult for a terrorist to enter or pass through a monitored space, carrying a concealed weapon, while making it much easier for a security professional to react proportionally and proactively to any attempt so to do.
While we would never claim that any terror attack could have been prevented by any single measure – only a fool can knowingly claim that something is foolproof – we look forward to working with the security professionals and services in the UK to introduce new weapon detection solutions, like Patriot One, into the existing armory of intelligent security measures and solutions. Both investment in security personnel and security technologies will contribute to better public safety and peace of mind, working unobtrusively in the background, dispassionately and implacably looking out for threats and enabling intelligent responses to counter them.
Andrew Brear is a Director of Kinetic Six Ltd, a UK company providing innovative and robust communications and technology solutions to government and civil sectors and of Othrys Ltd a security strategy consultancy. Mr. Brear is also an Honorary Fellow of the Security & Strategy Institute of the University of Exeter, United Kingdom and a guest lecturer at the Global Security Institute of the University of Durham.