Simon Whitehouse Invited as a Keynote Speaker to Discuss “Grey Spaces” at IFSEC International 2018

SGW’s Managing Director, Simon Whitehouse, was asked to present at IFSEC International 2018 as a keynote speaker for the UK Security Commonwealth in his role as Director of the Security Institute.

The UK Security Commonwealth is an umbrella organisation founded in 2014 and is formed from more than 40 independent bodies including the Security Institute, Association of Security Consultants, and the UK Chapter of ASIS. The UK Security Commonwealth is a forum to consult and co-operate in a common interest to promote professionalism, knowledge transfer and best practice within the UK security sector.

IFSEC International 2018 was the inaugural keynote address for the UK Security Commonwealth, focusing on ‘The technical, personnel and design considerations in protecting “grey spaces”’, with three high-profile guest speakers, including Simon, and a follow-up open-forum discussion with audience members.

“Grey Space” is a term used to define undefended areas that exist between security-protected zones. In a “grey space”, a criminal, terrorist or other threat actor, can prepare for their attack in a relatively safe setting, with limited risk of discovery. Recent attacks in London 2017, including Westminster Bridge and Borough Market, as well as Manchester, were initiated in “grey spaces”.

The question the keynote speakers were asked to address was how can security design, security personnel and technology help to turn “grey spaces” into defensible spaces, to create a perception of risk for a potential threat actor planning an attack?

Simon’s presentation began with defining “grey space” within a real-life example, identifying the importance of establishing intended use ranging from the Public Realm or “grey space” through Semi-Public, Semi-Private, Private and Restricted Access, and how security consultants working with planners, architects and estate owners can establish a concentric approach, ensuring critical assets are suitably protected and distanced from “grey spaces”.

Once “grey space” had been identified, Simon explained the risk assessment approach that should be carried out by security consultants, including identifying Vulnerable Points, Credible Threats, Opportunity for Threat Actors, Motivation and Capability of Threat Actors, and the anticipated ‘reward’ for carrying out an attack or crime. He explained the methodology used including Access and Circulation Assessments, Swept Path Analysis, Blast Modelling and Crowd Dynamics, as well as other broader concepts such as CPTED and Secure by Design.

Simon also reinforced the importance of identifying ‘risk owners’ and who security consultants are likely to work with when protecting “grey spaces”, including local, regional and national authorities and government agencies, estate owners, and credible third-party experts, such as NaCTSO, CPNI, BRE, and the Security Institute’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs). This collaboration, as Simon expressed, is critical to creating a collaborative effort to defending “grey space”. He expanded with emphasising the importance of an integrated security approach, using;

• Technological Security (ANPR, CCTV, Video Analytics)
• Operational Procedures (plans, policies, and procedures & security personnel)
• Architectural Components (CPTED, HVM, Landscaping)

He was keen to stress the importance of collaboration with the landscape architect, as working closely can bring in elements associated with landscaping and CPTED that can protect “grey spaces” with more aesthetically pleasing architecture. 

Simon concluded with how risk in “grey spaces” can be mitigated focusing on increasing defensible spaces in terms of stand-off distances and security zones to ‘Deter, Delay, and Detect’ potential threat actors, increasing landscaping using street furniture and architecture to create aesthetically safer spaces, and technical measures, such as analytics, facial recognition, Behavioural Analysis and deep-learning technology, providing an integrated approach with multiple stakeholders to future protect “grey spaces” from evolving threats.


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