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Posts Tagged ‘Dept. of Homeland Security’

Lessons Learned in the 10 Years since 9/11

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Crumbling 9/11

We've learned lots of safety lessons from September 11, 2001

Part 3 in our continuing series

Since August is U.S. Army Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month, and with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack. In our third installment this week, here are two more lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Security-related incidents will likely impact transportation and travel.

The 9/11 attacks affected public transit, commuter rail, commercial vehicles and ferries, and resulted in the need for significant road repairs. What’s more, the way people travel has shifted since the now infamous act of terrorism on our country. According to the U.S. Travel Association:

  • Business travel was hit particularly hard by 9/11. Between 2011 and 2010, total volume declined, as businessmen and women exercised the option of replacing short business trips with conference calls.
  • The good news is that American leisure travel, on the other hand, has been resilient. Despite long lines and other symptoms of policies implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the leisure segment has seen a 17% increase in travel since 2001.
  • International leisure travel to the U.S. basically lost an entire decade following the attacks. While global long-haul travel increased by 40%. During the same period, overseas travel to the United States rose by less than 2%.

While the travel industry reels, emergency management professionals strategize about ways to ensure safety for anyone traveling to or within the United States. Carefully monitoring and protecting travelers has become a critical part of safeguarding our nation. If you’ve flown since 2001, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the effects of heightened security at our nation’s airports. Among the changes:

  • Restricted Items—box cutters and other sharp objects as well as large quantities of liquids and gels are no longer allowed on airplanes.
  • Heightened security on aircraft—cockpit doors are bulletproof to prevent unauthorized access. Pilots also have the option to carry a gun. And more air marshals have been placed on flights. Curtains that used to divide first class and coach cabins have been removed.
  • Improved security screening—many passengers are patted down, everyone has to remove jackets, shoes and belts before passing through security checkpoints. Even casual comments made in passing (relative to terrorism or hijacking) are taken seriously.
  • Tighter Identification checks—all passengers must carry valid IDs.

Since restrictions could be placed on domestic and international travel in the event of another attack, systems have been put in place to alert citizens if it becomes necessary to ask residents to evacuate and/or avoid certain roads or areas for safety.

  1. Law enforcement involvement is necessary at local, state and federal levels due to the criminal nature of any and all terrorist attacks. Most counter-terrorism strategies involve an increase in standard police and local authorities. But did you know that you can play a part to aid officials in their efforts to protect the public?
  • Keep your eyes open and report suspicious activities to local agencies. The best way to do this is to become familiar with your surroundings so you will notice anything out of the ordinary.
  • The Army’s iWATCH Program encourages people to identify and report suspicious behavior that may be associated with terrorist activities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encourages people to help authorities by suggesting: If you see something, say something. If you notice suspicious activity, report it to your local police department. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
  • Since attacks can come in the 3-D world or cyber space, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team offers a US-Cert Incident Reporting System. Learn to identify potential threats to your cyber security along with your physical safety.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Using New Technology to Gauge Threats

Monday, April 18th, 2011
Seal of the US Dept of Homeland Security and Twitter

The Dept of homeland Security is using social media to alert the public about disasters.

Very shortly, news network viewers will no longer find out about updates via color-coded threat levels from the Department of Homeland Security. The current threat-level chart will be replaced by a two-level threat system known as the National Terrorism Advisory System. The first threat level will be coined “elevated,” and would warn about a credible threat, but not list possible targets.

A distinct difference to the previous system is that the two-level system will provide a start and end date for the threat. The second level will be “imminent” when law enforcement officers working with DHS determine a credible threat will very likely be attempted against certain targets. This level of alert would continue for not more than seven days, but could be extended. DHS will also incorporate social media alerts into the two-level system, recognizing the reach and the importance of such networks in the fast sharing of information.

First put into use in March 2002, the current system (officially known as the Homeland Security Advisory System), was established in response to the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. The system initially came under frequent criticisms, with many individuals claiming the threat level was often raised for political motives to incite citizen unrest. Others claimed the threat level did not move sufficiently to recognize actual threats, and was often held at an elevated status level.

According to DHS, the risk of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remains, and citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior. Law enforcement is continually training for possible attacks, even participating in testing exercises to measure readiness.

This type of readiness was evident in the thwarted New York’s Time Square bombing attempt in 2009, where a quick-thinking street vendor alerted authorities to a smoking van. The terror alert system reminds citizens about the threat of terrorism and encourages common sense as well as a broader sense of civic responsibility.

Government officials announced that terror alerts and information about threats will be distributed via two primary social networks when deemed appropriate, Twitter and Facebook. The department’s Twitter alerts page is @ntasalerts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/HomelandSecurity. In some cases, distribution of specifics regarding an alert could jeopardize ongoing investigations. In such cases, information about terror threats might not reach the public until after the alleged terrorists are captured and the threat has been mitigated.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

Terrorism Surveillance: Keep Your Eyes Open

Monday, May 31st, 2010
Report suspicious activity

Report suspicious activity

Part 2 in a Series

A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security stated that attempted attacks on U.S. soil are at an all-time high. As a result, participation of private industry in surveillance has never been more important. The Obama Administration recently released its latest national security doctrine, which emphasizes the need for monitoring potential threats to United States-based targets.

The installation of CCTV Security Systems is becoming more widespread throughout urban and suburban areas, creating a “net” of coverage to aid in both terrorism prevention and speedy apprehension of suspects. As a property owner, you might consider installing a security system and establishing relationships with neighboring property managers as well as law enforcement.

Our post today explores best practices for terrorism surveillance, including how to scan for and identify suspicious activity and what to do with the information you gather.

Security System Installation

  • Select a professional CCTV installation company, which can advise you on the number and location of security cameras.
  • New camera systems offer DVR, which affords clients improved image storage and faster law enforcement review.

But the best camera system in the world is useless unless someone “knows what to look for.” Once your surveillance systems are in place, it’s important to educate your staff about how to identify potential threats.

Suspicious Activity could constitute “casing” of the building. Look for:

  • Individuals walking by the building repeatedly with no apparent purpose
  • Vehicles parked in unauthorized areas including loading zones or garage entrances
  • People trying to access restricted areas of the building

IT and information-related issues can be signs that your building is being targeted:

  • Terrorists who are scouting your location may do research. Be wary of:
    • Phone calls to your building asking for detailed tenant information or maps of the property
    • Website visitors from foreign internet connections repeatedly viewing your building’s website

Activities that could indicate an attack is imminent. Watch for:

  • Vehicles that come very close to the building past security barriers and then quickly depart
  • Individuals checking watches/cell phones frequently, and maintaining contact with other people who are located in various areas of the property

Cooperation with law enforcement and neighboring businesses:

  • Once security systems are in place, contact your local FBI office and police department to inform them of the system coverage and your willingness to help identify potential threats by reporting suspicious activity and sharing your surveillance footage.
  • Work with other business owners to discuss their surveillance tactics and share information about individuals or vehicles that have been behaving suspiciously.

With any complex problem designed to identify and prevent terrorism, cooperation is key. In the Times Square attempted bombing, a major lead about the bomber’s identity was obtained not from Times Square cameras but from shopping mall surveillance video that showed someone test-driving a suspicious vehicle. With a surveillance system in place, you can help foil terrorist attempts and play an important role in maintaining safety in your community.

Visit us next week for another post in our series about terrorism surveillance. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Allied Universal, Inc. is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

DHS Announces New Safety Prep Plan for Private Sector

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
An third-party auditor will evaluate your safety preparedness.

An third-party auditor will evaluate your safety preparedness.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new program on October 16, 2009, called PS-Prep (Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program). The initiative was created to provide a voluntary accreditation and certification assessment for use in the private sector.

PS-Prep will assess whether a private sector organization—such as a commercial company, non-profit group or educational institution—complies with one or more voluntary preparedness standards adopted by DHS. Some areas of this certification program will include:

  • Disaster Management
  • Emergency Management
  • Business Continuity Programs

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explained the reason for the new program by saying, “Preparedness is a shared responsibility and everyone—including businesses, universities and non-profit organizations—has a role to play. Ensuring our private sector partners have the information and training they need to respond to disasters will strengthen our efforts to build a culture of preparedness nationwide.”

Through PS-Prep, any small business, hospital, stadium, non-profit organization or corporation can be certified by an accredited third party, which checks for conformity to one or more preparedness standards. Once these standards have been certified, periodic reassessments will ensure that the business is still in compliance.

Participation in PS-Prep is entirely voluntary. Nevertheless, it would behoove anyone working in the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity. Reducing the impact of hazards and planning to protect employees, allows business owners and non-profit directors to recover and reopen following a natural disaster or other emergency. Since business recovery after disasters is uncommon, PS-Prep should help get more people back in business.

At Allied Universal Inc., we believe that it is vital to develop and implement plans to reduce the impact of a potential emergency or disaster, which is why we encourage seeking certification on at least one or more standards set out by DHS. For more information on the new PS-Prep Program, visit FEMA.

Becoming certified is a definite, important way to BE SAFE!!