Berlin welcomes ASIS International

Thursday, March 29, 2007

BERLIN--ASIS International's sixth annual European security conference, entitled "Security Management: The Way Forward," kicked off in Berlin, March 26. The three-day event, aimed at security practitioners, especially managers, had a packed program consisting of 44 sessions that ran the gamut from the exotic, such as espionage and stalking, to more nuts-and-bolts issues like standards, supply-chain security and the value security can add to a company's bottom line.
Former German Interior Minister Otto Schily and the president of the German Federal Police, Jorg Ziercke, delivered keynote speeches focused on terrorist threats and the growing internationalization of crime in an era of increasingly open borders. Schily stressed an "all hazards" approach to these challenges that addresses both terrorist and natural disaster threats. While noting that securing people and society is "the core business of the government," he acknowledged the important role private security companies must play in accomplishing this, saying that government "must rely" on private security companies to achieve this goal.
Roger Warwick, of the European Working Group on Standards and Guidelines, led a session on international standards with the aim of getting security professionals, in this case ASIS International members, involved in the process of developing and launching standards, as these measures are rapidly becoming the benchmark for all industries, including that of security. Like them or not, he emphasized, standards are necessary for a growing industry, so it's absolutely necessary that security professionals take an active role in their formulation. Failure to do so will leave security managers at risk of being "dictated to" by generic management consultants, he said, who may know very little about the security sector.
Katharina Geuetebrueck, managing director of Geuetebrueck, a large European manufacturer, addressed the expanding role of CCTV in security applications. "CCTV today is information management," said Geuetebrueck, explaining how the technology is migrating from monitoring for security threats to adding additional intelligence combined with a user-friendly interface that can unite information from different systems to increase efficiency while reducing costs.
One of the most enthusiastically received talks came on the closing day, when Professor Martin Gill of the research and consultancy firm Perpetuity spoke on the frequent gap between the security sector and the businesses it serves. According to Gill, security practitioners are often not adept at promoting security as something that can add value rather than simply being a cost to a company. A lack of fluency in the language of business can lead to security being marginalized within a company, he said. Being able to clearly explain, in terms that business executives understand, what value security can add to a company's bottom line is more vital than ever for everyone in the industry, from managers to integrators.