Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living In “Relaxed Alertness”

Prevention of inappropriate acts, both criminal and terroristic, surely depends on good intelligence which includes (in overly simplistic terms): identifying the bad guys, learning about their plans, stopping the bad guys. But let’s not forget that bad acts are also thwarted by the hardening of potential targets.

We have heard the term “soft targets” used quite a bit lately. “Soft targets” generally refers to those places which traditionally attract little evil intent and which consequently do not prepare very well security-wise for the worst-case scenario. (Examples of soft targets include churches, shopping malls, hospitals, daycare centers, sports/entertainment venues, ground transportation systems and the like – places which attract large numbers of persons who are not immediately or primarily focused on security issues.) So “soft targets” become attractive to the bad guys because of the potential for a high-yield event with relatively little effort.

I certainly do not advocate making our society even more of an armed fortress than it currently is – the terrorists have already accomplished part of their goal by disrupting and changing our everyday way of life. But on the other hand, we have to stop being a reactive culture – we have to realize that bad people do bad things, and that we have some personal/corporate responsibility to do what we can to prevent and mitigate those bad people and things. All individuals and businesses should do some self-assessment of their particular security needs: determine what is important (their “assets”); determine what bad things can reasonably be anticipated to happen to those important things; and initiate an appropriate and commensurate security strategy. In other words, everybody should pretty much always be in a state of “relaxed alertness,” aware of surroundings, understanding that something bad could possibly happen, understanding that reasonable efforts have been taken to avoid those bad things, and being prepared to deal with the bad things if our proactive measures have not been totally adequate. This is not paranoia, it is simply being conscious of what could happen and being reasonably prepared for it.

(In fact, isn’t this a realistic and pretty good way to look at life in general??)