Doug Bedell — September 11, 2006, 4:40 pm

Security: Be Careful How You Do It

Last spring, The Gardian, the newsletter of the Infragard National Member Alliance, had a thoughtful article on the changing world scene that has stayed with us. Entitled “Engineers and Existentialists: How Critical Infrastructure Protection Turns Security Professionals into Philosophers”, it raised a nettlesome question: Can the manner in which we protect a setting change its nature?

“The mind of society is the battle space of the early 21st century,” wrote Richard Thieme, author of the piece. “Wisdom and insanity,” he added further on, “are contextual.”

What Thieme was getting at is that decisions by security managers and designers can have unintended consequences. He quoted a nameless “CIA veteran” to make his point:

“Failures to recognize potential (or obvious) issues – including ethical issues – during development cause big issues later. Once a tool is built and deemed usable – whether for operations or intelligence analysis – users take it and run. If developers fail to see a problem, users will quickly become entwined in it.”

In our own sector, if managers decide to protect a facility, governmental or private, with massive gates or barriers, does that color the nature of the enterprise? Does security become an intrusive function that clashes with openness and accessibility?

At PRO Barrier Engineering, we had such concerns in mind when we designed our Arrestor vehicle access barrier. The Arrestor delivers K12 stopping power yet retains the agility of a swinging door. It’s flush with the roadway when not needed, but pops up if signalled. And it looks good, too. The Arrestor is ideal, for example, for facilities that have to be inviting when open for visitors, but locked down overnight.

If we’re going to be protecting against spectral threats far into the future, as it appears we are, we need to do so in a manner that leaves the sun shining around us.

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