How Buro Happold waltz with the unseen foe

May 9, 2024


Buro Happold

“Adversarial risk management is no longer a choice, it’s our rhythm essential to the symphony of resilience”, writes Bruce Braes, Head of Security Consultancy and UK lead for global engineering and design firm, Buro Happold.

At Buro Happold, our security and public safety consultants are dedicated to several key objectives.

Firstly, we strive to establish a clear and robust career pathways for professionals in security and public safety.

By doing so, we empower individuals to develop their expertise and contribute significantly to the field.

Promoting best practices, our goals extend beyond individual careers and we actively create and disseminate best practices within the UK security sector.

These practices aim to elevate professionalism, enhance effectiveness, and ensure optimal safety measures.

We firmly believe that security should be seamlessly woven into the fabric of an organisation and its environment, and we advocate for the integration of security considerations at all levels and across all stakeholders in the built environment.

This comprehensive approach ensures a safer and more secure environment for everyone involved.

In summary, our commitment lies in fostering excellence, promoting safety and championing security practices throughout the UK built environment sector.

‘The Built Environment’ represents a relatively recent approach to shaping the design, construction, and management of human-made structures.

It encompasses the human-created surroundings that provide spaces for various activities, ranging from buildings and parks to neighbourhoods and entire cities.

These environments often include auxiliary infrastructure such as water supply systems and energy networks.

The built environment comprises spaces shaped or transformed by people, including buildings, roads, pavements, parks, and transportation systems.

It serves as the backdrop for daily life, where people live, work, and engage in recreational activities.

Furthermore, the built environment significantly contributes to enhancing the health and well-being of children, youth and the overall vitality of communities.

Why does security matter?

In his book, ‘Security Rules’, Paul Martin proffers that, “Security is a basic human need.

It enables individuals and organisations to go about their lives freely and without harm. Good security liberates us from disruptive fear of harm and builds confidence to invest in the future.”

This interesting and insightful proposition can clearly be aligned to the built environment through its focus on people, organisations, freedom from harm, confidence building and investing in the future.

All these elements are fundamental to the built environment and its development.

However, challenges exist as to how we can create that liberation and freedom from harm that builds the confidence to invest.

As security consultants, we frequently encounter a significant challenge: a widespread lack of understanding across the built environment regarding the unique nature of security risks.

Unlike other workplace risks, security risks possess distinct characteristics.

Here’s why they stand apart: Every security risk involves a human element – whether it’s an intruder, a cybercriminal, or an insider threat, the causal path invariably includes people.

Security risks are dynamic.

Unlike static risks, such as structural failures or natural disasters, security risks are in perpetual motion. Hostile actors continuously target our security measures, rendering them vulnerable.

Imagine our mitigation efforts as a chess game, each move we make, whether it’s installing surveillance cameras, implementing access controls, or enhancing cybersecurity, is met with an adversary’s countermove.

Their goal is to nullify our defences and exploit vulnerabilities, so as security professionals, we must remain vigilant, adaptive, and one step ahead.

Our task isn’t merely to build walls and install alarms, it’s to anticipate the opponent’s next move and harden our defences accordingly.

So how can we make things better?

Overall, the key message to stakeholders across the spectrum including architects, developers, policymakers, and community leaders is that protective security provides a framework to understand how to protect buildings and ensure buildings remain resilient against adversarial threats.

This requires a holistic and proactive approach, involving collaboration and coordination across different built environment stakeholder groups, government authorities and others to develop a body of knowledge that is logical, repeatable, defensible, and grounded in scientific research.

Protective Security is a dynamic framework that transcends mere design drawings, models and concrete and is not only about safeguarding structures, but also about fortifying resilience.

Imagine an approach woven from collaboration, science, and unwavering commitment.

A methodology that is not static, but pulses with life, understands the landscape and adapting to threats.

A holistic harmony, a symphony where architects, engineers, policymakers, and visionaries converge and together compose a resilient design echoing through every corridor, every pixel of our urban canvas.

To achieve this, we need to adapt the way we work, how we collaborate and improve our decision-making through the design process.

Our approaches need to focus on safeguarding organisational purpose, in the intricate tapestry of organisational governance, protective security emerges as a vital thread.

Its alignment with broader objectives the very pulse of our business plans becomes paramount.

Strategic goals must resonate with this duty as we set our course, we must weigh the impact on lives, assets, and information.

Good governance ensures that our compass points toward outcomes where security and purpose converge.

Skilled security practitioners provide the watchtower, they plan and allocate resources judiciously, ensuring that protective security activities mirror organisational mission and vision.

Safeguarding our organisations is an intricate dance of daily operations, however, there’s a partner we must never ignore, adversarial risk.

It’s the shadow that follows us, the risks posed by motivated and capable adversaries.

How do we waltz with this unseen foe?

We must continuously scan the horizon for potential threats emerging cyberattacks, intruders, or covert schemes.

Our protective security processes must spotlight the vulnerabilities those threat actors will exploit.

We must weigh impact and likelihood, what if an adversary breaches our defences?

Will our reputation crumble, will our finances falter, or will legal battles drain the life out of our organisation?

We have to assess, quantify, and prioritise these factors.

Having completed that, we must plan our next moves, and these must be precise in deploying proportionate controls, cost-effective yet robust, whether surveillance systems, access protocols or encryption layers these form our protective shield.

Our adversaries never rest, so neither can we.

We must continually monitor, adjust, and adapt our defences to evolve and anticipate their next moves, in this choreography of vigilance, we protect our organisation from harm—financial losses, reputational bruises, and legal pitfalls.

Adversarial risk management is no longer a choice, it’s our rhythm essential to the symphony of resilience.

So, in conclusion, protecting and safeguarding the built environment into the future is dependent upon adopting a comprehensive protective security methodology based upon adversarial risk management.

That methodology needs to bring together all the stakeholders including architects, developers, policymakers, law enforcement, regulators, employees, customers, and community leaders to develop a body of knowledge that is logical, repeatable defensible, and grounded in scientific research that can form the basis of a collaborative and coordinated approach to designing the built environment into the future.

This article was originally published in the May Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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