Una's blog

Una in January 2013

by Mark Rowe

I thought that I would start the New Year by looking back at a couple of events that I attended late last year: the Consec conference by the Association of Security Consultants; and the SIA stakeholder conference.

You may think that is a bit strange in these days of instant news. However, from a reporter’s perspective, there is almost no point in turning up to a special event these days … we can attend virtually. It used to be that we could report on the factual aspects of an occasion via information courtesy of a press release that was distributed to all the relevant media titles. This information was directed at the desired publications and the aim was that the news of the event would be publicised at the discretion of the journalist or editor. Not that long ago that type of information was relatively restricted and was not freely accessible to the public other than being printed or broadcast. Nowadays, all those facts are instantly transmitted by the event organiser or the client for the entire world to see. The detailed information will be posted on their website the second the conference doors are open … thanks to the World Wide Web. Many of the large companies and certainly government (plus affiliated sites) have professional communication practitioners working on their behalf. The communication departments work like media hubs and have the entire information ready … at the press of a button to dispatch at the crucial moment, from the keynote speaker’s speech to PowerPoint presentations.

By the time the delegates have picked up their badge at the venue, all the information will already be posted on the event host’s web site for the world to see. So why look back? We should only look forward … surely? Well it’s like the old saying goes … with threats come opportunities. A new type of communication is emerging. While we have the high speed communication lines open for all we are also now in a position to reflect and feel our way through stories at a different pace than in the past? Fast is the new slow!

There is no doubt that the internet has changed our lives, it all began with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. We live in a crazy world where grey is the new black, less is more, bad means good, evil means great and wicked translates to fantastic … in’it!? From all of this there has emerged a new style of communication that enables a more reflective stance. Which brings me to the point of here we are at the start of a new year and I am reporting on events that took place last year! Both the ASC’s Consec conference and the SIA annual stakeholder conference will have all the details you desire on their respective websites. What won’t be there is the feel of the event. How do you translate the buzz of Consec at the RAF Museum Hendon, north London. This venue has been a favourite of the ASC for many years but the next Consec will be at National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham. Consec is a ‘must attend’ on the security calendar and is renowned for providing delegates the opportunity to network and develop new contacts and where speakers from the wider world of security are invited to share their experiences and insights. Allan Hildage, chairman of the ASC welcomed the delegates. The theme was ‘delivering security in an age of uncertainty’ introduced by Lord James Bethell, patron of the ASC. Without further ado Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach RAF, Commander UK Joint Forces gave the main address and reflected on delivering security in the global arena. Commercial perspectives on security were explored by consultants Rod Leeming on emerging corporate threats. Graham Smaul, former Imbert Prize Winner, a Country Security Manager based in Somalia of Aon Services Corporation spoke about ‘doing business in the developing world’. His presentation was titled ‘requirements and challenges of managing corporate security in potentially hostile environments’ which was both fascinating and eye-opening. The corporate perspective on security was further expanded upon in great detail by Sue Seaby, VP and Global Head of Security and Safety, also of AON Services Corporation, and winner of a 2012 Professional Security WiS (Women in Security) award. Sue talked about ‘protecting assets, incident management and maintaining business continuity’. She had everyone captivated by the plethora of practical information and best practice associated with security risk management. Sue combined that with a balanced approach to risk and performance on a global basis. It was good to see the systems sector represented by Stefan Hay, Head of the Fire and Security Association (FSA) and great to hear him talk about the role of the FSA and what it stands for and what it has achieved. As a co-founder of the FSA I know more than most the contribution that Stephan has made not only to the FSA but to the systems sector. His energy and enthusiasm for the electrotechnical sector knows no bounds. The academic element was provided by Danie Addendorf, Director of the Security Faculty of Loughborough University talking about ‘educating security professionals and developing skills to meet the security challenges of the future’. In fact his talk was the inspiration for my reflection of the way things are now reported and how time structures that were once in place no longer exist … hence reporting now on something that occurred a couple of months ago … why not? We have new rules for everything … but are they for the better? Danie was very thought-provoking. He said: “The Internet is the world’s 205th country. It has no border control, no passport needed, no government, no flag, no rule of justice, no social contract and a population in access of two billion people.” He went on to say that this 205th country (the internet) is the perfect world for the natural nature of human beings; which is hedonistic, anarchistic, criminalistic, individualistic and selfish. He explained that in this place people are free and ungoverned with no justice. He expressed that at this point in time the internet is a place where ‘men are able to commit injustices against others without the fear of reprisal’. Do you think that the 205th country is a destination of choice? It was an evoking presentation. Back in one of the other 204 countries … and in particular the ASC conference, we had the Olympic Security Legacy presentation by Bob Sait a former Detective Chief Superintendent and 2012 Olympics Co-ordinator, reflecting on ‘lessons for the police and security industry in the UK’s reshaped policing and security landscape’. All the speakers were of high quality and the information imparted was fascinating from both the public and private sector viewpoints. I am looking forward to ‘getting on my bike’ for the next Consec, on October 3. The other stand-out event was the SIA conference. I have attended quite a few SIA conferences but this was different. The details you can pick up on the superbly informative SIA website, including the speeches, the running order, questions and answers … everything. They really are worth checking. The main thrust of the conference was the introduction by Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE, the recently-appointed Home Office minister, who has taken on the responsibilities around regulation and the SIA who outlined timetables for the ‘transition to a new regulatory regime’. He also took the opportunity to say: “I would like to thank Ruth (Baroness Henig) for her enthusiasm and commitment to the SIA during the past six years. She has led the regulator through challenging times and has been inspirational in her support of her chief executive and employees of the SIA. I wish her all the best for the future”. The stand-out moment was without doubt when Baroness Henig of Lancaster made her final speech as the chairman of the SIA … and was met with a standing ovation.


It took some time before the eminent Arthur C Clarke described a future of ubiquitous networked personal computers in an interview in 1974. By 1982 the protocol suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected networks was introduced…called the Internet. Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a radical impact on all our lives, culture and commerce, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) “free international phone calls”, two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, entertainment and social networking. Phew … talk about faster than the speed of light! When you think just how quick the communication business has developed and changed…it is quite awesome. There is no doubt the impact has been huge for what was known as traditional media … newspapers, magazines etc. The old adage ‘yesterday’s chip-paper’ meaning once a story had been read and digested, it was gone and forgotten … no longer applies. Now stories and reportage finding its way onto the internet is there for ever? Since the late 80’s the would-be oracles have predicted the abolition of the print media. With the advent of the Kindle and iPad (along with a plethora of other e-book readers) they said that we would no longer pick up a book or read a newspaper or magazine. It is true that we have witnessed the demise of some newspapers for one reason or another (Leveson Enquiry springs to mind) but as one title is lost another is formed. As for the magazine stands they are bulging with more new titles than in the mid 90’s. There is no doubt that the publishing world has suffered change but it could be considered for the better. They have become leaner and took the opportunity to dispose of non-working titles. The magazines that have survived are of a high quality with a strong and loyal readership. The print media is considered by some to now be a high-end professional platform, as most publications also have a spin-off e-platform. The print media have uber developed into what was once called the diverse areas of media i.e. blogs, social media, interactive websites, e-zines etc…which ironically is fast becoming known as the new traditional media!

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