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Security


People vs technology: do we need both?


Ever since the development of the first mechanical lock, the question has been asked as to whether it is better to rely on people or technology for one’s security. As both an engineer and a security practitioner, Stephen Green finds the answer to be self-evident. He explains here


overlapping, mutually supportive rings of counter-measures, each designed specifically to mask perceived weaknesses in preceding layers. Sometimes referred to in the health and safety domain as the ‘Swiss Cheese’ model, the design intent is that no series of failures (or alignment of holes in the cheese) that might result in a breach should be allowed. With this in mind my simplistic,


O


reflexive response to the question posed is therefore of course we need both. However, a more nuanced answer can be provided by a deeper analysis. What types of people are needed, with what skill sets, operating within which organisational structure? Which technology is best, deployed how and with what aim? Is there an optimum balance between human and technical resources? This article examines the extremes of the notional human/technology spectrum and suggests that the most cost and operationally effective solution must lie somewhere mid-table, although the precise point will differ according to circumstances.


ne of the most basic concepts in security is that of defence in depth – the principle of using


The role of people Routine Activity Theory suggests that crime occurs when a motivated offender and an attractive target meet in the absence of an effective guardian. Looking at the case for a people-oriented solution, it is clear that the presence of uniformed personnel fulfils the guardian role and thus would offer an effective deterrent to crime. However, there are several limiting factors that must be considered before embarking on a wholesale deployment of guards. We firstly need to address the question of scale. If the asset to be protected is small it would be possible, in theory, to place a guard next to it on a 24/7 basis. However, even at this nano-scale a minimum of four guards would be required to provide the necessary shift cover and thus long-term operational expenditure becomes an immediate issue. Further, as the size of the establishment and/ or quantity of assets to be protected increases, it rapidly becomes impractical for manned guarding to provide effective cover due to the need to initiate a regime of patrolling. In such circumstances the guard force is no longer omnipresent,


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