Doug Hewitson – The importance of technology-enabled officers

Doug Hewitson - Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions Group
Doug Hewitson - Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions Group

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and this is very true in the world of security. As an industry we are charged with providing safe and secure environments for our customers, protecting both people and property. Intelligence is therefore critical to strategically and tactically designing the most efficient and effective security solutions. This is the view that we have set out in our recent white paper, available here.

If we understand security to be the prevention and mitigation of risk, we need to ensure we have the intelligence to do so and – more importantly – the ability to acquire that intelligence. This is where I see the role of technology as enabling security personnel to become integrated into systems which fuse people, process and technology to form an intelligence-led design package for security. This direction of travel is abundantly clear.

The rapid expansion of handheld devices – mobiles, PDAs and tablets – means that flexible web-accessible portable ‘computers’ are ever-present data collection and communication tools. Whereas once the traditional tools of the security officer were, for example, a torch and a log-book, I now see them as increasingly being electronic devices which can capture data, report incidents and then feed them into an intelligent system for trends analysis and the design of appropriate responses and tactics as a part of broader solution design.

I believe that technology, when meshed into a wider framework that includes sophisticated analysis tools, can help to design and execute intelligence-led security in what I would call a ‘total’ fashion. By ‘total’ I mean approaching security in a manner which appreciates the holy trinity of ‘before, during and after’. Officers equipped with devices that can capture an incident and report to a central repository feeds a system that delivers security in a ‘total’ manner, ie., before (the design of preventative tactics and strategies), during (appropriately executing mitigation responses) and after (post-incident risk analysis and appropriate solution design).

Prevention is without doubt better than cure and the use of data capturing tools, reporting to a central resource, can map out trends, analyse risk and design solutions. Of course, processes cannot operate without people. In the same token, processes enable people and people enable processes. Security solutions of this type, which thrive on efficient intelligence relay, cannot work without all three ingredients – namely people, processes and technology. In isolation their effectiveness is hugely diminished, but when fused together they form a powerful union for security solutions.

In my view, this is why the skilful integration of technology into the offering of security personnel is very much an enabler. It creates what I call ‘technology-enabled’ security officers with the effect of enhancing effectiveness when plugged into a broader complementary system, run by processes and operational because of technology.

Underpinning this view is the basic principle I outlined above, that knowledge is power. However, knowledge alone is not enough to provide a ‘total’ security service which can deliver before, during and after incidents; you need the tools to acquire your intelligence and the ability to use that knowledge accordingly. Enabling security officers with systems and technology is the future and the best way to achieve a total, more comprehensive approach.

Doug Hewitson has over twenty-five years of experience in the security industry, having started out in 1987. He joined Securicor following its acquisition of Shorrocks in 1996, where he had been Regional Director for Scotland. After working as Area Director for Securicor in the North, Doug was appointed Managing Director of Securicor Aviation in 2001. The same year he became Managing Director of Securicor Security, serving until 2005 after which he worked on the integration of sectors following the merger of Group 4 and Securicor creating what is now G4S. He has been Group Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions UK since February 2007 heading up the security solutions arm of G4S in the United Kingdom.

G4S Website