Risk management

I recently attended a Standards Australia forum that focussed on future strategies for standards development and dissemination.  One of the innovations that grabbed my attention was the use of images to create links to standards that we all need to use. 

A handbook currently under development by Standards Australia is ‘HB188’ which aims to describe the use of physical security for addressing the risk of terrorism and violent extremism inside, outside and in the surrounding precinct of a commercial building.   There are already many standards that could be used to help executives, designers, and builders decide which measures they should consider.  However, there are so many standards, guidelines, and reference documents that need to be utilised in the decision process that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start, and very easy to overlook important standards or industry benchmarks.   

When it comes to protecting society from terrorism and violence, any approach to improving coordination of expertise amongst all building professionals and trades has to be a good thing.

Most design and risk management standards are typically in the form of a book.  Traditionally this has been in paper form but most people now use ‘pdf’ versions of those books for ease of reference.   Like many people, I keep a list of standards that I have regularly used but I am not always aware of updates to standards or the publication of new standards.  Also, some older standards might be withdrawn.  Up until now, conducting searches of standards’ databases has been one way to try to keep on top of the changing standards landscape.  However, this can be laborious and not always effective.  There is a need for a better user interface that guides us to the standards we need to read and use.

The use of physical security in and around a commercial building is a great example of where such a new user interface is needed.   Imagine a 3D picture of a building on a website that you can access on your smart phone, tablet or computer.    If you are an architect wanting to know about standards relevant to blast protection options for windows, click on a window on the building and you are immediately presented with links to all the relevant standards.  If you are an engineer needing to know about bollard standards for protection of the building against vehicles used as a weapon, then click on the picture of the bollard outside the building and that will present links to all the current relevant standards on this subject.  

Clicking on an outward opening perimeter door in the 3D picture will  provide links to standards and references that detail what needs to be considered for the selection of a security door.  Clicking on a picture of a CCTV camera will provide links to standards.  Lighting, vehicle access, structural blast protection, pedestrian access control and all other elements of physical security design could be included in such a standards-based graphical user interface. 

The building is located in a precinct;  imagine zooming out from the 3D building user interface and clicking on the areas around the building to provide links to other standards, relevant legislation and references needed to consider the risk and resilience planning for the area.  This could include traffic control, pedestrian movements, planning issues and precinct-wide design principles based on crime prevention through environmental design. 

Perhaps all standards associated with building and precinct design, construction, and facility management should be formulated using graphical interfaces.     Imagine the impact on multi-disciplinary design, construction and management coordination! 

Kevin Foster
Dr Kevin J. Foster is the managing director of Foster Risk Management Pty Ltd, an Australian company that provides independent research aimed at finding better ways to manage risk for security and public safety, and improving our understanding of emerging threats from ‘intelligent’ technologies.