Many security professionals would probably love to have one single product, a so called “silver bullet”, that would serve all physical security needs. It would screen people, stop and categorize them when needed, screen their bags, follow them around, stop their vehicles, etc. The list of physical security needs is long, and no two areas in need of protection are the same. The number of exits, volume of people, access for cars or other vehicles, all these things affect security strategies and the options for equipment that can be used. While there is no one solution that can fit all spaces, from my perspective there are already a lot of good options around the world.
Since there are countless types of events, it would be impossible to compare all of them. However, as the number of attendees grows, so should the security budget. Large crowds packed closely together make an attractive target for attacks, and the chaos that ensues can be even more fatal. Different methods of screening people and their belongings are becoming more and more prevalent in all types of events across the world. In countries where attacks are more common, metal detectors and bag checks are considered normal, whereas here in Finland they are still quite rare.
However, there are many other appropriate methods of screening people. The use of facial recognition software is more common than before, and more people are starting to understand that they might be surveilled even when they aren’t explicitly informed of it. Venues around the world utilize CCTV or access control systems to see where people are going, and when they are leaving. Nowadays, it is easier than ever before to connect systems to ensure seamless operation between different equipment.
Speaking of access control, it is the ultimate problem for office buildings. Office spaces can be large and have several entrances, including parking areas, and it can be difficult to monitor all areas at once. While there are many good solutions for access control, not all business parks or campuses are up to snuff when it comes to security. Just last year, the shooting at YouTube headquarters reminded many professionals that all entrances should be monitored, not just the front door. Biometric scanning or even keycard-facilitated access can prevent unwanted persons from getting inside a building, or at least force them to go through a more heavily guarded entrance point.
Another area entirely is loss prevention, which can be a costly headache for any type of firm. A big fulfillment center, manufacturing area or a storage room might all require different types of security systems, which can be complicated by the number of workers and the volume of production. In addition to monitoring employees as they perform their duties, you probably need to check them before they leave, as it might be difficult to get them to return stolen items after they’ve successfully taken things home.
Large public areas are difficult to monitor with any type of equipment. People moving quickly through a space, not necessarily in an organized pattern, can complicate the task of screening them, seeking odd behaviors or even intercepting a suspicious person. As people move about a space, say a public transport station, stopping them for extensive security checks or pat downs would cause waiting lines and create an uncomfortable atmosphere for some people. Here, probably more than anywhere, a variety of integrated security solutions and equipment should be considered and implemented. Some solutions like CCTV and vehicle-blocking technology and structures can improve the safety without being intrusive or causing discomfort to people who might not appreciate very visible security. Other equipment, like screening equipment, could be used for randomized searches or for identifying large hidden objects. However, one shouldn’t discount the importance of trained security guards, who are ultimately needed to react to incidents and to ensure everyone’s safety.
Asqella’s ARGON, a passive submillimeter-wave camera, is a solution that could be implemented in many of the scenarios discussed above. ARGON screens people for items hidden under their clothing, which can be useful information for security guards in all kinds of situations. Some of ARGON’s main applications are public transport stations, events, and loss prevention. As ARGON can detect objects made from virtually any kind of material, it is suitable for detecting weapons, drugs, liquids and other contraband.
Importantly, ARGON can screen people in real time as they walk by the unit. The screened subjects can then be on their way, or directed to a more thorough check if needed. Additionally, ARGON can be configured to work with other equipment, for example tracking CCTV, to continue to monitor certain people. ARGON is also very discreet and can even be hidden from sight, and as there are no health effects from the unit’s use, it is perfectly safe to be use around everyone. I realize that some people might be unwilling to be screened all the time or without their knowledge, but sometimes there just is a need to make sure that no one is carrying any unwanted items.