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Where culture and security clash

Grant Hatchimonji | June 24, 2014
Culture, of all things, can affect the strength of physical perimeter security, for better or for worse. We offer a look at what is and isn't working overseas, and why

security checkpoint

Physical perimeter security can differ from facility to facility, with myriad factors playing into what exactly is implemented, including budget and the assets that are being protected.

But what about geographical location and, subsequently, culture?

It's not one of the more obvious aspects that people consider when examining security, but it factors in more than one may think. Perimeter security varies from country to country, and their cultures have often proven to be both to the beneficial and detrimental.

Generally speaking, there is a stronger culture of security overseas and most businesses are equipped with more stringent measures than what we see stateside, according to Eric Milam, managing principal at Accuvant.

"Most organizations in the US, they appear to be somewhat behind the rest of the world," he says. "Tailgating protection, knee knockers, man traps...we encountered that a lot more in Europe."

Bill Besse, vice president of consulting and investigations for Andrews International LLC, an affiliate of U.S. Associates, who has also spent time overseas, points out that the more intense security measures aren't just found in European countries that voluntarily opt to implement them -- though he does concur that many financial institutions there have higher levels of security than here in the US. There also countries that more or less have no choice.

"I think there are some cultural differences in locations where they've experienced horrendous terrorist incidents," says Besse. "The national scene plays into [perimeter security], all the way down to the culture, and a lot of it has been event driven."

Besse, who spent time in Istanbul, Turkey, recalls that because of extremist activity like bombings, any building of consequence was equipped with magnetometers, baggage and parcel screening, and x-ray technology. Everyone who entered was subject to search and inspection, but people were generally unfazed as it was simply part of the culture, part of living in an area so fraught with dangers.

"People now accept that as a standard kind of thing," says Besse. "Standoff distances are increased, retractable anti-vehicle barriers in the avenues of approach to places like hotels or government buildings...over the years, it's become kind of an accepted thing now."

Besse also reflected on his time spent in India and Israel, where he says he found the situation to be similar. After the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the country amped up security in the form of K9 units, armed guards, and magnetometers in large commercial and hotel facilities. In Israel, vehicle screening at the perimeters of shopping centers and other major areas are commonplace.

"Culturally, it's an acceptable way of conducting business in the state of Israel," says Besse. "It's a huge cultural shift from places like the US and other places in the world. It's pretty much day-to-day protocol in places like Israel where they feel that security has to be done properly and in a certain method."


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