By Bruce Alexander
Four New York area airports are installing virtual fences consisting of heat, movement and video sensors to detect and deter terrorist attacks. The fence is reportedly modeled after similar fences in use at Israel’s Ben Gurion and Baghdad’s airport.
A virtual fence can also be use to protect executive residences and associated facilities. The success to making these virtual fences work is two fold. First, there must be a physical security survey that adequately identifies existing vulnerabilities. The physical security survey should be combined with a security engineering study that identifies the proper technologies to counter the vulnerabilities identified in the physical security survey. The second factor is referred to by Rafi Ron, former Ben Gurion security director who notes that the same investment must be made in human resources to respond to the threats once detected by the virtual fences.
Virtual fences are another means of hardening the target and creating those layers of security that are essential in Executive Protection. However, technology is no substitute for good security practices. These systems work best when combined with other layers of security that compliment physical security.
Executive Protection specialists do not need to be experts in designing physical security systems. After all, there are specialists for that type of work. However Executive Protection specialists must have a working knowledge of physical security in order to identify vulnerabilities that might affect the security of their protectee and to articulate to security engineers the level and type of protection desired to secure their principal.
If I had a dollar for every non-functional setup I’ve seen… Defective alarm sensors, non-recording CCTV, non-locking or easy to pick locks, etc. There is definitely a need for humans to keep manning the virtual/physical fence.
You’re right that we need an operational knowledge of all the layers, and we also need to not rely on them complacently. People are key as usual.