A piece of vulcanised rubber may not stop an active shooter, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea!

Hey Phil! In my opinion, not only is prevention not a bad idea, a focus on preventing mass shootings rather than just dealing with them after they happen is by far the best approach. But…

As they continue to happen with increasing frequency and the active shooter attack remains our most distressing reality, one can make a strong argument in favor of Police Chief Mark Gordon’s active shooter program. I would therefore argue that there are some good reasons to like the puck:

“The puck can teach you”

Every one should come with a conversation, a five minute “prep talk”, that reinforces some key awareness concepts

Oakland University plans to give out 2,500 of them at roughly a dollar apiece. Each act of handing a hockey puck — 800 handoffs to staff and 1,700 to students-is a teachable moment. Every one should come with a conversation, a five minute “prep talk”, that reinforces some key awareness concepts.

We are built to spot patterns…don’t turn that instinct off when you are in a familiar place like your classroom” or “Look for exit signs when you are in a public place”. The puck itself could even be emblazoned with emergency phone numbers or preparedness phrases like “Run Hide Fight”.

“The puck can help you plan”

If you’re like most people, you spend your days hoping that this horrible thing would never happen to you. You don’t like to think about it. This is why you don’t (I call this phenomenon “the brick wall of hope”)

Because when it comes to active shooter situations, doing something is always better than doing nothing

The reason that this is a problem for you is that your ability to think clearly will evaporate the instant you hear the gunshots. So if you hadn’t ever thought through your first steps then, you are unlikely to have any bright ideas now. You are more likely to freeze, which is more likely to result in bad outcomes. Because when it comes to active shooter situations, doing something is always better than doing nothing

As odd as it sounds, the hockey puck could help you to plan for the worst. Its heft could allow some to engage their fear; its reality could help to bring the intangible from the deep recesses of the subconscious out into the real world. As the puck turns over and over in your hand, you could think it through; we call this “modeling your actions”. You could ask yourself “What would I do first…? What are my evacuation routes; where are the exits? Where could I shelter in place? Where are the lockable doors?”

“The puck could hurt”

As anybody that has been hit in the head with a hockey puck can tell you, as a last resort weapon, a hockey puck is definitely better than nothing. Especially if 20 students in a classroom all threw them at the same time. Heck, it could actually even work.

As anybody that has been hit in the head with a hockey puck can tell you, as a last resort weapon, a hockey puck is definitely better than nothing.

“Sometimes you just need a puck”

Finally, having an extra puck or two around could actually come in handy. Especially if you find yourself without one but out on the ice with stick and jonesin’ for a game!

This is a response to “What the puck? Can a piece of vulcanised rubber stop an active shooter?” published by Phil Gurski (The Resilience Post, 07 December 2018).
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Yes, Antarctica has a fire department

“‘Are there fires in Antarctica?’ That’s always the question I get,” says Megan Branson, who spent over 24 months “on the ice” as a fire-fighter and paramedic between 2007 and 2010.

And the answer? Yes. Though rarely, if the the Antarctic Fire Department can help it. In the busy summer season of October – March, there are over 1,000 residents at the US Antarctic Program’s McMurdo Station, making it the largest settlement in the region.

Flights landing at the base must, by law, have a fire crew on hand, but McMurdo is also a fully functioning town. As for any town, building fire safety is important. Even more so when outdoor temperatures only inch above freezing at the height of summer.

> Read entire article Yes, Antarctica has a fire department | Mary Halton | BBC

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How to prevent vehicular terrorist attacks – maybe

We read of them often – last week’s incident in London near the Parliament buildings in just the latest. Over the past five years or so there have been at least 20 such events, most of them terrorist in nature, that have caused hundreds of deaths (the 2016 attack in Nice was by far the most lethal with 86 dead) and thousands of injuries.

Once investigations begin we learn that those behind these heinous attacks come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are known to the security services, others not. Some fooled authorities into thinking they no longer posed a threat (Martin Couture-Rouleau in Montreal in 2014). Others may have had ties to terrorist groups like Islamic State. In some cases IS claims the drivers as ‘soldiers’ of Islam irrespective of such links. One thing is certainly true: there is no profile.

These attacks often happen out of the blue.These attacks often happen out of the blue. A vehicle – car, van, large truck – appears out of nowhere, targeting crowds of people on a busy Toronto street, or one in Stockholm, along Las Ramblas in Barcelona or on the iconic London Bridge. The only common denominator seems to be innocent men, women and children out enjoying a nice day or commuting to work. Lives are lost, lives are shattered.

Officials struggle to come up with responses. In a perfect world, our protectors would have intelligence on those planning such acts and would take action to stop them. In light of those successful attacks it is clear this is not always the case.


A French police officer watching for road traffic infringements in Paris
A French police officer watching for road traffic infringements in Paris

What can we do?

In the absence of intelligence or forewarning some authorities decide to put up barriers. During festivals or parades dump trucks, often filled with cement, will be posted at certain intersections to prevent the entry of a terrorist bent on destruction. These measures are of course temporary.  Other countries have elected to put in place concrete bollards or barriers – or planters if they want a better and more aesthetic look – that remain as an obstacle on a more permanent basis. Structures of this sort appear to have inhibited London’s terrorist last week. They can be ugly, however, and infringe the freedom of movement of the vast majority who do not have violent intentions.

This involves installing a system in select areas that can act to slow down or stop a vehicle perceived to be speeding up in the neighbourhood of pedestriansOne possible solution is purely technological in nature. This involves installing a system in select areas that can act to slow down or stop a vehicle perceived to be speeding up in the neighbourhood of pedestrians. Would-be extremists find that their cars or vans are incapacitated, thus frustrating their designs.  This capability is already real and can serve other purposes such as stopping vehicles involved in high speed car chases.

There are of course problems with the ability to disable a car at the flick of a switch. I imagine that the system required to monitor potential bad guys would be enormously expensive. Who decides which areas should be monitored (once identified the terrorists could just move over a block)? Do we want to place this capability in the hands of police? Does it not smack of Big Brother? Even if it worked 100% of the time, a determined terrorist would be careful to bring along a knife or gun to continue his plot once his vehicle quit (yes, a guy with a knife cannot do as much damage as a guy with a car but he can still kill and wound).  This is exactly what happened to Lee Rigby in Woolich in 2013.


Sidewalk Toronto
Sidewalk Toronto is a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to create a new kind of mixed-use, complete community on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront, beginning with the creation of Quayside.

Cities of the future

Maybe when we get to the cities of the future, like the plans for parts of downtown Toronto (the Sidewalk Labs project), this will all be old hat. Many seem to be ok with ever intrusive peering into our activities that they will accept that cars will be stopped if someone in authority thinks they are driven by homicidal maniacs. Then again, perhaps the backlash over FaceBook and private data will create an opposition movement to all this.

What we have to accept is that, irrespective of the technology we develop, getting to zero terrorism is a pipe dream. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome all efforts to get the tally of successful attacks as close to nil as possible. It is just that a very determined violent actor will usually find a way. We might want to get used to that.

Contrary to accepted wisdom, terrorism CAN be detected early enough to prevent

In the wake of an attack, whether it be terrorist in nature or a mass shooting, stabbing or vehicle ramming incident, we often read comments and statements such as the following:
  • no one saw this coming;
  • it was completely unpredictable (and by extension unpreventable);
  • who would have thought THAT person would have done such a thing;
  • there is no way to prevent future events like this from happening.

All of these are untrue as I hope to convince you in this piece but let us examine why people say such things.All of these are untrue as I hope to convince you in this piece but let us examine why people say such things. We want to believe that no one is truly at fault (unless we want to blame someone we don’t like: CSIS, the RCMP, the police), we don’t want to admit that we could have done something to prevent these violent acts, we truly are convinced that there are things in this world that defy classification, etc.

If we really think that some crimes are ‘bolts from the blue’ we are curiously satisfied that as nothing could have been done to make a difference we don’t have to worry about. ‘Stuff’ happens. We move on.


The opposite is closer to the truth

The opposite is closer to the truth

And yet studies are coming out that the opposite is closer to the truth. Even though those who engage in violence do not fit any kind of demographic (age, occupation, employment, mental status, relationship status and so on) they all tend to engage in behaviors that should tell those closest to them (partners, family, friends, workmates…) something is amiss. These signs are out there for inspection and we have to actually choose to ignore them.

”In the weeks and months before an attack, many active shooters engage in behaviors that may signal impending violence” A recent FBI study on active shooters brought this idea to the fore.  A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013 has concluded solidly that ”In the weeks and months before an attack, many active shooters engage in behaviors that may signal impending violence. While some of these behaviors are intentionally concealed, others are observable and — if recognized and reported — may lead to a disruption prior to an attack.

This study is well researched, methodologically sound as far as I can determine and worth reading as it should put to bed the notion that these events, of which there are far too many in the US (from 2000-2013, 160 of which 63 were subject to study for indicators), ”come out of nowhere”.


41 of respondents told pollsters that they believe there are radicalized individuals living in their communities today
Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism: Four-in-ten respondents say radicalized individuals live in their communities

”They live in our communities”

The release of this paper came on the heels of an Angus Reid opinion poll in Canada on radicalization and homegrown terrorism in which 41% of respondents told pollsters that they “believe there are radicalized individuals living in their communities today.

41% of respondents believe there are radicalized individuals living in their communities today It is unclear why 2 in 5 Canadians feel this way: perhaps they are affected by what they see on the news in other countries since terrorism is a rare beast in ours or perhaps they have deep biases against those populations they think house (or encourage) radicalization. Nevertheless, this is a significant percentage of Canadians.

Comparing this poll and the FBI study is a little like comparing apples and oranges: the former is a set of opinions while the latter is a scientific analysis but there is much here that is similar. If two-fifths of us think we have a problem with radicalization and potential terrorism that suggests, admittedly weakly, that people have seen radicalization in their communities at some point. If true, there must be some series of attitudes or behaviours that lead those people to conclude that they are consistent with radicalization.


Minority Report.png

Early detection of potential problems

Just as the FBI, our security folks have discovered patterns where many had said none existIn fact, there are overt, observable behaviours all the time. I worked on these at CSIS almost 15 years ago and wrote many, many (classified) papers on the subject: some of that work was broadly reflected in my 2015 book The Threat from Within. My old CSIS friends have moved on to do a follow-up analysis of mobilization to violence indicators, a small summary of which they made public recently. So, just as the FBI, our security folks have discovered patterns where many had said none exist.

These findings are wonderful news. They take the imponderable and unpredictable and make it less scary. They put tools into the hands of people in a position to effect early detection of potential problems, although all these studies caution that their conclusions are descriptive and not prescriptive. Still, knowing what to look for sure beats not knowing even if there is no one-to-one mapping between behavior and action.

There remains however the challenge of whether or not observers elect to report what they see: the FBI noted that “well-meaning bystanders…may even resist taking action to report for fear of erroneously labeling a friend or family member as a potential killer.” You can lead a horse to water…

We should commend our protectors with sharing their research with us. They know a lot more about violent extremism than anybody else does and we should heed their advice. The ball is now in our court.

The damned if you do damned if you don’t problem with CVE

When I was at Public Saftey Canada, I had the opportunity to work in outreach with some outstanding civil servants. They would organise sessions across the country with a variety of communities to engage on a wide range of topics all related in some way to public safety. I was invited on some of them when the topic was violent extremism and radicalisation.

All of these talks, or at least the vast majority, were held with Canadian Muslim communities. This made sense for me since that was what I specialised in: violent Islamist extremism. It would have been pointless to use my experience in any other matter. We were able to carefully and properly construct these sessions – it is after all hard to talk to a community about the possibility of terrorism in their midst – but I think we did it well (judged by the feedback we received).

UK

Although this is not ‘outreach’, there is already a hue and cry in the UK over plans to allow MI5 to target people for identification before concrete moves to carry out acts of terrorism materialiseOther places are struggling with this model. Although this is not ‘outreach’, there is already a hue and cry in the UK over plans to allow MI5, the British Security Service (akin to CSIS), to target people for identification before concrete moves to carry out acts of terrorism materialise. One guess who the focused communities are: Muslim. This new strategy seems to be tied to the UK’s PREVENT program (one of the four pillars of CONTEST – the counter terrorism strategy) under which “faith leaders, teachers, doctors and other community leaders (are called upon) to report suspicions about people who may be leaning towards radicalisation to a local Prevent body”.

That there is opposition is of no surprise. British Muslim communities are probably sick and tired of being ‘targeted’ by the security services and of the conviction held by some that they are uniquely associated with terrorism. I get that.  And yet a cursory glance at recent successful, as well as foiled, terrorist attacks in the UK show quite convincingly that the majority are perpetrated by radicalised UK Muslims. Yes, there have been attacks by the far right, but I am pretty sure the figures show they are in the minority, so far (that could very well change as many have predicted).

UC Davis students invited to fast for a day with Muslim community and share their experiences
UC Davis students invited to fast for a day with Muslim community and share their experiences

What then should the state do?

Limit its efforts to tracking known terrorists and interdicting them before they act (one hopes)? Is the public okay with a failure rate in this regard? Is there a need for dialogue and outreach? Is there nothing to be gained by helping to identify early the small numbers of British Muslims who demonstrate signs of radicalisation to violence (there are signs but they are not 100% predictive in nature) and get them to reconsider?

If we want to reduce the number of terrorist attacks as well as the number of people whose lives are ruined because they radicalised to violence, we need to have agencies other than the security services and law enforcement talking to and listening to communities.I think that outreach can be done well as we were able to do so in Canada. And I am sure that my former colleagues would love to share current best practices and lessons learned with anyone else. There is, however, an outstanding problem. We talked with Canadian Muslims because that was where a problem was shown to occur. Some may have felt singled out but that does not mean that there were not issues that needed to be put on the table. Where would the state go to address right-wing extremism? Is there a ‘community’ where this can be presented? Of that I am not certain. We benefited from mosques and Islamic centres and Muslim youth leaders to plan our sessions. Is there an equivalent on the far right? Perhaps so, and if my readers know more than I do I’d love to hear from you.

Outreach delivers multiple benefits for both sides and hence it is a good thing to do. It is never perfect but an honest effort is usually appreciated. If we want to reduce the number of terrorist attacks as well as the number of people whose lives (and those of their families) are ruined because they radicalised to violence we need to have agencies other than the security services and law enforcement talking to and listening to communities.

There are multiple actors in the counter terrorism game and each has a contribution to make. These are efforts worth making.

The pluses and minuses of using ‘formers’ in counter radicalisation programs

Years ago when I was still with CSIS I was part of the debriefing of a source we were running on our counter terrorism investigations. During our chat he said something that struck me as really profound. We were talking about the radicalisation process and he noted, based on what he had observed, that the best catalysts for those thinking of joining a terrorist group or engaging in violent extremism were those who had ‘been there, done that’: i.e. other extremists.
The analogy he used at that time was that people who had street cred in violent extremist circles were like flowers and those interested in a similar experience were like bees, hanging around, landing and picking up ideas (just like bees pick up pollen). His description has remained with me to this very day.

The best catalysts for those thinking engaging in violent extremism were those who had ‘been there, done that’: i.e. other extremists.

Despite the continuing myth of the ‘lone wolf terrorist’, the path to radicalisation does not happen in a vacuum. It requires like-minded people to channel one’s desires into a useful direction. Those who share similar views can be found anywhere: family, friends, religious leaders, online… The role they play is central – a person may eventually elect to act alone (what we more accurately call ‘lone actors’) but s/he did not get radicalised on his/her own.

Experience required!

So if the real McCoy is an essential piece of the radicalisation puzzle does the opposite also apply? What I mean is: can we use a person who has direct experience in terrorism and who has decided to leave it behind to help get those not quite at that point to change their minds? This is an interesting idea and one that has actually been formalised within the Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network where ‘formers’ and the victims of terrorist acts come together to try to prevent future events of violent extremism. In truth, I like the idea although I do have reservations as I shall discuss below.

This issue came to the fore for me today when I read that two young Montrealers acquitted of trying to leave Canada to join a terrorist group (I am not sure that was the correct verdict by the way – the Crown is going to appeal I think) have been engaged by the renowned Montreal-based Centre pour la Prévention de la Radicalisation Menant à la Violence (CPRMV) to act as consultants. In keeping with what my source told me, what better way to urge others not to make the same mistake? For the record, I am a fan of the Centre and always make time to see them when I am in Montreal.

Nevertheless, is there a downside to all this? Absolutely. The challenge lies in differentiating between true deradicalisation and disengagement (the two are not the same: the latter is much easier to establish and monitor than the former).

Is there a downside to all this? Absolutely!

If someone who has disengaged from violent extremism – because s/he believes that his/her movements are being investigated – but who still holds onto the very ideas that led them to terrorism in the first place now has access to vulnerable or interested individuals they can act like the flowers I alluded to above. This would not be good.

Best case, worst case

I assume that the deployment of these two young people will be closely evaluated and controlled by the Centre. In the best case scenario they can use their earlier bone-headed decisions to convince others not to follow in their footsteps. More neutrally, their interventions may be all for nought.

The worst outcome would occur if they were able to coach others on how to avoid the attention of security intelligence and law enforcement agencies in order to leave the country or plan something here. I happen to think that this last possibility is highly unlikely, but the chances are not zero. Unfortunately, in the public’s eye organisations such as the CPRMV are only as good as their most recent failure (just as CSIS and the RCMP are).

We will continue to struggle with what to do about radicalisation to violence. Some early efforts and interventions will be successful and on other occasions our protectors (CSIS, RCMP) will have to get involved and people who pose threats to Canadian society will have to be arrested, tried and incarcerated. There is no magic bullet to any of this. I wish this CPRMV initiative well and sincerely hope I will not have to write a piece in the months to come on how it all went not according to plan.

Can we use a person who has direct experience in terrorism and has decided to leave it behind to help get those to change their minds?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Phil Gurski

President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. Phil worked as a strategic analyst in the Canadian intelligence community for over 30 years, including 15 at CSIS, with assignments at Public Safety Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police. He specializes in radicalization and homegrown Al Qaeda/Islamic State/Islamist-inspired extremism. borealisrisk@gmail.com

Rehab camp aims to put young cyber-crooks on right track

Teenagers caught carrying out hacking and cyber-attacks could soon be attending a rehab camp that aims to divert them away from a life of crime.

The first weekend camp for offenders was held in Bristol this month as part of the National Crime Agency‘s (NCA) work with young computer criminals.

Attendees learned about responsible use of cyber-skills and got advice about careers in computer security. If the trial proves successful, it will be rolled out across the UK.

The people picked to attend the residential weekend were known to police because they had been caught carrying out one or more computer crimes, said Ethan Thomas, an operations officer in the NCA’s Prevent team, which engages with young cyber-offenders.

‘Attacks, attacks, attacks’

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Many of those attending the rehab weekend first got into trouble hacking their school network.

Hundreds of fledgling cyber-criminals have been contacted by the NCA as part of its Prevent work. Some received letters warning them that their online activity had been spotted and some were visited at home by officers.

The seven young men attending the weekend camp had gone further than many the NCA is aware of. They had either been arrested, visited by officers because they were spotted using tools or techniques that break UK computer misuse laws or been cautioned by police because of offences committed at school.

They had been caught defacing websites, knocking servers offline and carrying out hack attacks that let them take over restricted networks.

Good guidance

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Mr Thomas said the idea for the event grew out of an NCA research project that compared the hacking skills of people on both sides of the law.

“It measured up the profiles of different offenders we had and compared it to those of talented people in the industry,” he said. “What we found was that the only sole difference within the stories was that the industry members, at some point, had an intervention.”

Mr Thomas said these pivotal moments in the career of a young person came from different sources – parents, guardians or teachers – but the guidance given demonstrated how effective such an intervention could be.

“The skills are so transferable with this crime type,” he said. “If you have good cyber-skills there are many, many qualifications you can take.”

He said the people who took part in the weekend would be monitored to see how their experience changed them. The NCA said it was planning to introduce similar weekends across the UK if they proved to be able to set young malicious hackers on the straight and narrow.

Source: BBC

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Longer, fiercer fire seasons the new normal with climate changes

Firefighters in the West are starting to see it every year: an earlier start to the fire season and millions of acres of forest and range burned or ablaze as the summer just begins to heat up.

At least 60 large blazes are currently devouring parts of the West, threatening to make 2017 a record-breaking wildfire year and adding to the 3.4 million acres already burned this year. As early as April, wildfires had scorched more than 2 million acres in the United States—nearly the average consumed in entire fire seasons during the 1980s. At least 20 new, large fires have ignited in the West in the last days, forcing thousands of people from their homes.

The new normal with climate changes

“All the wildfires out West at the moment—it’s exploding,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist in the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “It was the same last July, with fires all the way up to Alaska.”

mwildfiresuswest201707112-529pxForest ecologists and climate scientists say this is the new normal—what the fire historian Stephen Pyne has called the “pyrocene”—and recent research has solidly linked it to human activity. A study last year found that human-caused climate change had nearly doubled the amount of forest burned in the West since 1984.

“Dry periods are getting drier, and the risk of wildfire is greater as a consequence of climate change,” Trenberth said. “There’s a tremendous amount of fuel out there waiting for the right conditions. Whatever conditions exists, they’re always exacerbated by climate change. There’s always that heat variable, the increased risk.”

Dry conditions and drought have contributed to huge wildfire seasons over the past decade, including a record-breaking season in 2015 when over 10 million acres burned.

Fire season gets costlier, not just in the West

pexels-photo-266487

The expanded fire season stretches from early spring to late fall, and in some areas, even longer. The length of the season, along with bigger, more intense fires, is taxing budgets.

The U.S. Forest Service, which is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dedicated half of its budget to fighting fires in 2015, exceeding 50 percent for the first time in its 112-year history. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joked that it should be called the “Fire Service.”

In the West, they used to talk about a fire season,” Trenberth said. “The fire season used to be 60 days, then 90 days, and now they think it’s year-round. There’s no pause.”

The mountainous West isn’t the only area that’s becoming increasingly vulnerable. Earlier this year, nearly 1.6 million acres of forest and grassland burned in the Plains and the Southeast, across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Florida and the Carolinas.

Those blazes came on the heels of an already bad 2016 in the Southeast, where hundreds of thousand of acres burned across Appalachia after an especially dry summer turned forests into kindling. Climate scientists say conditions in the Southeast will likely get worse, largely because forests in that region need more water than those in the West and they’re not getting it. Making matters worse, communities in the Southeast usually aren’t well equipped to battle blazes and are more densely populated.

Source: Inside Climate News

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New ISO standard on video fire detectors will help save lives

Early detection of fire and smoke are essential to save lives, property and the environment. Modern technology such as video fire detectors, especially in some high-risk places like tunnels, oil and gas environments, public buildings or storage areas, enable a fast response to a potential fire. A new ISO technical specification on video fire detectors helps ensure more efficient and reliable equipment.

According to the Center of Fire Statistics (CFS) of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services (CTIF), among 31 countries representing 14 % of the world’s population, fire services reported 3.5 million fires, 18.5 thousand civilian fire deaths and 45.0 thousand civilian fire injuries in 2015.

Video detection technology detects, identifies and analyses smoke at the first sign of fire or flame. The equipment’s understanding of the behaviour and movement of smoke enables users, located on site or remotely, to raise the alert and take appropriate action early.

Keith Shinn, Chair of ISO subcommittee ISO/TC 21/SC 3 that developed the standard, says: “In large open compartments, it can remove the delay in smoke travelling to the detector and result in a quicker response by emergency services. It can also permit smoke detection in harsh environments where it may otherwise be impractical.”

ISO/TS 7240-29:2017, Fire detection and alarm systems – Part 29: Video fire detectors, specifies requirements, test methods and performance criteria for video fire detectors (VFD) operating in the visible spectrum, for use in fire detection and alarm systems installed in and around buildings.

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Any downtime can very quickly amount to huge sums. Further, any shutdown can involve complex and lengthy start-up procedures that further exacerbate the loss.

Isaac Papier, Convenor of ISO subcommittee ISO/TC 21/SC 3, explains: “Industrial fire detection serves two vital functions. First in preventing loss of the facility, but actually, more importantly, in providing a fast response such that operation is not interrupted resulting in severe revenue loss. Today’s modern automated production facilities comprise of huge investments with revenue flows often exceeding millions of dollars per hour. Any downtime can very quickly amount to huge sums. Further, any shutdown can involve complex and lengthy start-up procedures that further exacerbate the loss. A video fire detector is an excellent tool to effectively monitor a large area in real time.”

Until now, there has been no comprehensive international specification for video fire detectors and ISO/TS 7240-29 provides the first platform for international acceptance of a uniform specification.

A fire detection and alarm system is required to function satisfactorily, not only in the event of a fire, but also during and after exposure to conditions likely to be met in practice, including corrosion, vibration, direct impact, indirect shock and electromagnetic interference. Tests are intended to assess the performance of the video fire detectors under such conditions.

Source: ISO.org

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Inflatable plug for subway tunnels demonstrated

A giant, inflatable structure designed to prevent flooding in subways was rolled out, literally, for media observers inside a full-scale, mock subway tunnel. In a demonstration, the plug, in under five minutes, nearly filled with pressurized air, created a flexible but extremely strong barrier. Full inflation is complete in less than twelve minutes.

As the video shows, in under five minutes it is nearly filled with pressurized air — creating a flexible but extremely strong barrier. Full inflation is complete in less than twelve minutes. The live demonstration continued with the plug holding back simulated floodwater at 11.5 pounds per square inch pushing against it.

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory helped develop the Resilient Tunnel Plug in partnership with ILC Dover and West Virginia University for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. It’s kind of like a large balloon, but infinitely stronger.

“This is one of those things where we had an idea that was pretty simple but we needed to take that concept to reality,” PNNL engineer Greg Holter said. “The big problem wasn’t just designing the plug, but ensuring it could be stored without interfering with trains passing through their tunnels.”

pic-1-resilient-tunnel-plug

PNNL says that the RTP, made from a liquid crystal polymer called Vectran, was developed to provide security to transit systems as protection from flooding, primarily in subways, in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. In the event of flooding, the plug would rapidly inflate, holding back a tunnel full of floodwater, keeping citizens and the transit system assets safe.

Learn more about the technology on DHS’ website.

Source: Homeland Security

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Supply chain: Theft in distribution centers is a growing threat

Theft in distribution is a growing threat in the US, security expert Barry Brandman of Danbee Investigations said during a very interesting presentation last week at the annual Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC) conference in Ft. Worth.

One recent change fueling the increase: the internet, which now provides a global marketplace where pilfered goods can be sold virtually anonymously, especially on auction sites, Brandman says, whereas in the past stolen merchandise mostly had to be sold locally.

That also means once goods make it outside the DC, the chances of recovering it – or even tracking the source – are very low, Brandman said. There are a number of different theft scenarios, Brandman said, including individual employees stealing goods on their own, the very common scenario of employees working inside a DC colluding with drivers to steal, and drivers stealing from customers during deliveries.

Brandman cited a recent survey that found 40% of delivery drivers said they had been propositioned about joining in some kind of theft activity – a high number from which certainly some said Yes.

Relative to collusion, Brandman cited a recent example in which a second shift supervisor conspired with order pickers to select extra cases that were then loaded on a truck, with a driver also part of the scheme. Text messages were sent by the DC employees relative to what extra cases were on the vehicle.

warehouse-theft

He offered other interesting examples. In one case, a driver was caught on film in a major city exchanging the stolen goods from the truck on to another vehicle right in the open, even as police drove right by. Brandman said this exchange was performed on the driver’s route, just a few blocks from his last delivery, so that nothing would look amiss from GPS tracking and so-called geo-fencing systems.

Another driver sold some $200,000 of merchandise over a period of time, at a heavy discount to their retail value, so that the value of the goods was probably around $800,000, Brandman said. That is pretty big time.

What can companies do?

There are no easy answered, Brandman said. A detailed security audit is a good place to start, and these need to involve more than the simple checklists that are often used. The audits should include a true analysis of processes, Brandman said.

RELATED: Become a certified ISO 28000 SCMS Lead Auditor

Companies should also employ unannounced audits, Brandman said, and the results should be included in the performance reviews of DC managers.

Brandman said it is critical to have some kind of hotline where employees can privately and anonymously report illegal activity. That anonymity is key to getting many employees to call about the theft. There are third-party service companies that can maintain such hot lines for a company, Brandman said, and having the service managed by an outside company might be viewed as less risky to employees, increasing the number of tips.

Source: Supply Chain Digest

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Being prepared: An increase in natural disasters sends residents scrambling

James Katte was completely unprepared for the wall of soil and rubbish that barrelled into his Auckland home on Tuesday night.

The former furniture maker and his partner Therese were fretting about torrential rain falling outside their apartment block in Kohimarama, in the city’s inner eastern suburbs.

“The lights flickered and my partner said ‘just in case the power goes out we should get our torches ready’. Then, next minute, soil came crashing in.”

At about 8pm a steep, rain-swollen bank looming over the 11-unit San Remo apartment block collapsed, sending tonnes of soil and rubbish down.

“Our back door was caved in, firemen were crawling around in the mud looking for a missing neighbor.”

Fears for their neighbor were quickly allayed when he was found alive and well, but four apartments including Katte’s were trashed by the landslip.

“My front door and windows were completely smashed-in, but the killer was the rain washing in dirty soil, it got everywhere, the kitchen, the laundry, the carpet is ruined,” James Katte said.

“I had a chance to pack a few things and then firemen and police told us to get out,” Katte says.

“My front door and windows were completely smashed in, but the killer was the rain washing in dirty soil. It got everywhere. The kitchen, the laundry, the carpet is ruined. “My ground floor is munted.”

The number of natural disasters is on the rise, and Katte’s shock evacuation highlights how ill-prepared many of us would be in an emergency.

Civil Defence’s 2016 Disaster Preparedness Survey shows 25 per cent of homes are prepared for disaster with dwellings stocked regularly refreshed food, water, emergency items and a survival plan.

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Drone footage shows the extent of flood damage to Edgecumbe.

But Jones’ efforts proved futile against the ferocity of Tuesday’s landslip.

“I had a little bag by the front door with water bottles, raincoat, torches, radio and things,” Jones says. “With the mudslide, that got taken out straight away.”

For thousands of 2000 residents of Edgecumbe in the Bay of Plenty, the coming days, weeks and possibly months will be spent staying with family, friends, or wherever Civil Defence can find a warm, dry bed for them.

The increasing numbers of natural disasters is forcing authorities to rethink the way they house those people displaced by floods and earthquakes. The preparedness survey shows only 25% of homes are prepared for disaster with dwellings stocked regularly refreshed food, water, emergency items and a survival plan.

A Civil Defence spokesman said the large number of post-2016 survey natural disaster events, notably the Kaikoura earthquake, are likely to have acted as a strong motivator for more people to get better prepared.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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