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Reading the headlines, reports and talking with public security officials brings home the huge challenges  they face around improving safety and security of our citizen’s, communities and businesses.

As Public Security agencies reflect society and the communities they serve, then as society evolves so must the agencies adapt to the changing world. If we follow this logically through and we can identify the megatrends affecting global communities, then we can better predict how this will shape public security in the future. Here are some thoughts on these megatrends.

1. GLOCALISATION affects all of our communities, the pace, volume & interconnectedness of trade, travel & infrastructure means that events, incidents and actions within one part of the world has a rapid impact upon others. Mobility, urbanization, changing demographics, the need for greater social cohesion and economic restructuring also create significant security and safety challenges.

2. STRATEGIC UNCERTAINTY is one of the biggest headaches for security agencies, when they try and plan for the future, the greater the uncertainty the greater the risk of making the wrong call. As timeframes and decision cycles are compressed, extended across geographies and become more diverse, complex & interdependent,  agencies are faced with the need to change their fundamental strategies.

3. OPERATIONAL COMPLEXITY is another area where key challenges are being faced. The need to focus upon a cross agency mission means managing data, information, processes, analysis, rules and decisions across borders, jurisdictions, agencies & communities, this increases complexity, extends the end to end process chain and can create bottlenecks in decision making. There are also additional considerations around transparency, privacy, accountability, infrastructure,  dated processes, incompatible rules, mismatched protocols, cultural differences and technological silos.

4. FINITE RESOURCES  is not a new challenge to public sector, however unlike private sector, public security organizations do not choose their customers, in fact those who threaten and pose risks to safety and security often demand the greatest focus, resources and attention. At the same time day to day safety and security priorities for citizen’s and communities can conflict with more long term and strategic priorities. Balancing local/regional/national security and safety priorities, reconciling intelligence led services with a highly responsive reactive range of public security services against  static budgets creates many tensions and challenges for security chiefs.

5. PARTICIPATIVE GOVERNMENT is a key driver in the future, with public security organizations’ moving away from traditional business models to more mission focused approaches. Such models necessitate the development of a much more holistic and cohesive set of shared public security capabilities. Where communities & citizens play a much more intimate role in local decision making and priority setting. This approach also creates a situation where traditional lines between public, private and citizen become more blended, blurred and complex, which in turn requires new thinking around commercial models, infrastructure and shared services. This also creates challenges around assessing performance in respect of public security outcomes.

These five drivers are shaping a future public security model based upon the concept of a ‘SECURITY COLLECTIVE‘, which is AWARE, PREPARED, RESPONSIVE & RESILIENT, which moves towards SENSE & ADAPTPREDICT & RESPOND intelligent security.

In this reality agencies rapidly assimilate & share data, information, content & intelligence across their eco-system, officials have devices and sensors on their bodies, in their cars and within the wider city infrastructure that develop real time situational awareness. The security collective makes available rich real time interactive content for them to make location centric, fast actionable decisions.

Embedded smart items, devices and sensors becoming ever more integrated, intelligent and predictive, in some instances taking self initiated adapative counter-measures before human intervention.

In this future view public security agencies acquire, store and analyse ever greater amounts of personal data, they are able to profile more and more individuals even for minor offences and they are able to track your movement in your car, via your devices, your biometrics and via your spending. I believe the ‘Security Collective’ is already becoming a reality and that this is a good thing for security and safety, as long as the rights checks, balances and safeguards are incorporated into the infrastructure, technology, solutions and processes.

This means a move away from bespoke, closed, proprietary and need to know cultures. From a technology perspective, public security clients will look to more mainstream platform and portfolio providers to address a wider range of operational needs.

Increasingly technology will need to facilitate ACCELERATED TRANSFORMATION, so public security agencies are better able to perpetually adapt to changing security environment – new business models, capabilities, skills, structures, resources, budgets, culture, infrastructure etc.

They will seek technology which will build more predictive, adaptive & responsive capabilities so that organizations develop as a core competency STRATEGIC INSIGHT & DECISION ADVANTAGE, better managing and optimizing all assets, resources & information whilst raising performance, improving strategy execution and developing greater situational awareness and anticipation.

They will also seek a platform and portfolio which enables and promotes COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION, not just a service orientated architecture, but the ability to co-innovate, rapidly deploy new technologies and capabilities, the ability to interoperate and deploy new business models. This will also include disruptive innovation as threats change and they try and take appropriate countermeasures.

For the new generation of public security officials, many live this new world in their private lives today, connected, online, interactive, informed, hi-touch, international, mobile, content rich, convenient & socially networked.

The challenge for public security agencies and the suppliers of technology is building the ‘SECURITY COLLECTIVE‘ in a more regulated, secure, transparent & accountable way, which means improved security and safety, does not disproportionately diminish rights, privacy and freedom.

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