Macky Outlaw

Technology is killing security. Buildings are surrounded by cameras with people relying on these devices as a fail safe to protect people, assets, and reputations. People are glued to phones with the latest security apps. However, mass shootings and workplace violence have increased over the past decade. Does technology protect us or hurt us?

Technology is a tool to enhance security, it does not become security. Even in the cyber world, steps taken by end-users are often more effective against attacks than expensive software and IT management services. What has happened?

Advances in technology have taken away the human aspect of communication and situational awareness that prevent most violent events before they occur. Can you have empathy toward a fellow employee while you are buried in a device? No. Does artificial intelligence tell us the thoughts of a person looking to inflict harm on others? Not yet.

On robot security guards, “For starters, unlike the 1.1 million people employed in the U.S. as security guards, these robots aren’t designed to use force against an intruder. They also don’t have the emotional nuance to, say, resolve an escalating argument. And some simpler logistical barriers: They can’t yet climb stairs or operate elevators.” – Shirin Ghaffrey, Vox

Situational Awareness in a Technological World

Most office workers are driven by systems that are driven by computing. According to a recent study, office workers spend 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen. These can be phones, laptops, or tablets. While looking into these screens, workers are what Jeff Cooper called, “in the white”, or relaxed and unaware of surroundings.

If employees spend 1,700 hours per year “in the white” while at work. Yes, employees must manage computer systems while at work. Yes, smart devices are here to stay for personal and professional use. But, what if we became more aware of our surroundings? Would violent events be mitigated or even stopped?

Most employees go to work, manage systems, and go home. They have very little time or interest in learning about problems from fellow employees. Typically, after a violent event, we find warning signs from perpetrators for months and years preceding the event. Can co-workers and friends see these warning signs before technology? Yes.

Large corporations and those with expensive assets often ramp up security with a guard force. Guard forces have thwarted many attacks, but they are often unarmed and severely underpaid. What level of service are companies getting from a guard being paid $11.37 per hour? Reduced professionalism and low-to-no training comes with this hourly rate. However, we are entrusting these guard companies to protect our employees.

Increasing awareness

Employees and Americans in general need to take responsibility. Corporations and other entities

have a responsibility to provide a reasonable expectation of security. Most organizations place guard services as a commodity and go with the cheapest bidder. In smaller firms, with only a few cameras and a reception desk, employees need to be on guard.

To place underpaid, uniformed security guards at a problem and expect them to protect lives and secure millions in assets, is not a smart move. To rely on an algorithm to secure computing systems is even more dangerous. Entities must train their teams to secure assets at the individual level. This includes ongoing training with realistic scenarios.


Could you spare a few hours per year to train your team on how to react to a cyber-attack? How about an active shooter attack? Most firms spend a few hours per year training on policies and procedures. Why not add this to your yearly training plan?

Training is the key to reacting to unforeseen circumstances. Training creates an environment where team members are always aware of what could happen. This type of training creates processes that can be documented and improved each year.

Bottom Line

Leaders attempt to eliminate the need for human interaction in security functions using cameras, IoT, and cyber algorithms. These tools are great, but the human should have oversight on critical thinking and interdiction. Training in critical thinking and how to react to situations are the keys to protecting assets and saving lives.

We help companies develop training plans and policies for unforeseen circumstances. Contact us to learn how we can help.