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Executive safety

While many will watch summer sport matches unfold from the comfort of their own homes or amid a friendly crowd at local pubs, many executives will be travelling to enjoy the cricket world cup and women’s football world cup underway and Wimbledon, and the Rugby World Cup in person. This brings many challenges to corporate security teams, whose job it is to ensure the safety of the executives when travelling overseas. Just recently, the head of security for England’s men’s football team admitted to fearing fan behaviour on upcoming overseas trips to Prague and Kosovo. So, how can corporate security teams ensure that their executives’ safety during this summer of sport, and what measures can organisations put in place to address crises as they occur? asks Jonathan Barrett, MD, EMEA at software firm Dataminr.

Increasingly, corporate security teams are using real-time data to gain first-hand insight into what’s happening overseas to better manage their executive’s safety. A recent report from Statista found that almost 4.4 billion people were active internet users as of April 2019, providing an advantage for organisations wanting to get a broader view of activity. The ability to connect and project information from almost anywhere has transformed everyday people into on-the-ground reporters, with millions of people around the world broadcasting what they see and hear on social media channels. Details of an incident are often shared before the full extent of it is reported by traditional news channels. These new insights create a worldwide global sensory network of eyewitnesses.

With more than 500 million tweets posted each day alone, not to mention the vast array of other platforms, corporate security teams face a unique challenge as they attempt to sift through the seemingly impossible amount of data being shared, to determine what is most relevant to them. It is here that the latest advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have a role to play. Advanced algorithms are able to sort through the mass of publicly available data sets, from social media and information sensors to blogs and websites, detecting events as they occur and providing meaningful updates as the event unfolds. In turn, this provides corporate security teams with the most valuable insights, creating a 360-degree view of a scenario and allowing them to respond with confidence, precision and speed.

There are many ways in which unforeseen events can affect an executive travelling overseas. When it comes to sporting events, executives can face long travel delays and overcrowding, potential terror threats to stadiums across the globe, unruly groups of fans, and the possibility of natural disasters. Every possible situation and outcome needs to be taken into account and planned for. By tapping into alternative data sources and gathering as much pertinent information as possible, corporate security professionals can receive the earliest possible warning of real-time threats to personnel, facilities, operations and interests around the world.

To bring this into context, in September 2017, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, killing hundreds of people, injuring many more, and causing widespread damage across the region. A Twitter user posted about the earthquake on the platform and in real-time an alert was shared with corporate security teams whose executives were in the area. Clients were also alerted to eyewitness accounts, including videos and photos of the damage. This type of insight is invaluable, as teams can get a holistic view of the event as it evolves, no matter how many miles away they are. Crucially, enhanced situational awareness supports corporate security teams dealing with ongoing threat mitigation, providing additional context to pursue the necessary course of action that will protect people on the ground and the company overall.

Protecting its people is at the top of an organisation’s priorities when faced with the early rumblings of a crisis. When these events occur, communication channels need to be open and visible to all employees in the organisation, from the CEO to consumer-facing staff. Consistent and unified messages will ensure that everyone knows what they need to do and when, in order to play their part in overcoming a crisis.

Equally, brand image and reputation cannot be taken for granted. In the midst of a crisis, both can be damaged within seconds, and often, the damage is irreparable. When a disaster strikes and an executive’s safety is under threat, it’s time for organisations to implement their disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

During this year’s summer of sport, there are many ways safety can be compromised; but thoroughly developed plans, supported and informed by real-time insights, can help teams prepare to limit the consequences and ensure the safety of employees. Being able to minimise damage, should a crisis occur, enables organisations and people to return to normal as soon as possible. Emerging data sources should act as an integral part of every corporate security team’s strategy. When used effectively, data can give businesses a holistic view of any situation, allowing them to stay one step ahead of any crisis, anywhere.

Pictured; Old Trafford cricket ground.


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