Protecting public spaces: what are the implications of Covid-19?
Chair: Martin Gill
Kevin Bingham, Council Member of International Union of Architects (South Africa)
Natalie Mossin, Head of Institute, Institute of Architecture and Technology, KADK (Denmark)
Thomas Vonier, President, International Union of Architects (France)
Emiel Blanckaert, Head of Security, FPC Antwerp at Securitas (Belgium)
Key points raised
This webinar incorporated the views of architects and designers who certainly offered a different take on what now faces security and how it should be responding.
You will witness Natalie Mossin discussing securitisation and how it is developing, noting that the world is being presented with different types of challenges asking for different responses. For security this is made slightly more comfortable by the fact that it largely has public support, at least for now. Architects know a bit about space utilisation and that will be key as social distancing is practiced at work, that will require different work practices, around the clock work hours perhaps, and 60% of the work force present at any one time while the rest work from home, the rotation of workspace are all discussed. Workplaces will get smaller, there will be a downsizing, big entertainment venues will become little entertainment venues for example.
Kevin Bingham discusses the implications of Covid-19 in poor countries and the implications for security. He draws overlaps with health and notes that the crime dangers in alleyways in poor areas are also known breeding grounds for disease, law is breaking down in some areas and this needs watching. It becomes a lot harder to enforce social distancing in such circumstances. Being part of a warm climate as South Africa is of course, has advantages but they only go so far. Listen to Kevin talk about learning from Italy. He interestingly advocates the value of vestibules at entrances to test people and highlights staff areas as being in need of specific focus and how we need to manage them differently.
Thomas Vonier notes that we are still coping with the emergence of the pandemic. He discusses how workplaces and residences are becoming blurred and outdoor places are becoming important given the problems in being inside in large gatherings. He stresses the pressures on frontline workers, feeling public anxiety as it grows. It is complex and challenging environment but they need to set an example. He discusses working on the 47th floor of a building and the difficulties of getting supplies, using elevators and making the workplace usable. You will listen with interest as he discusses the benefits of a clean desk policy; a focus on areas being cleaned properly; touchless doors and keypads; the value of sun light and air; the risks associated with starting air conditioning systems; the need for new standards and policies and procedures; the changing role of surveillance at work so long seen as an effective approach to security that will likely be challenged; and then there are the new types of terrorism threats.
You will witness Emiel Blanckaert discuss the realities of working on the frontline. This new environment means security work is vital for helping to save lives and the importance of that means frontline staff need to explain, continually, and calmly, the need for social distancing and related requirements. This is not easy and the issue is unlikely to go away; it is a challenge and needs to be reinforced via training. There will be costs for clients, and they will benefit from working together (as will suppliers), and that could be a major benefit for all parties if done well. Emiel also calls on the need to engage experts, and for them to collaborate with security, there has never been a more important time for that.
The speakers frequently draw comparisons between security and health in different environments: theatres, silent discos, theatres where a person two rows in front can suffer the impact of a cough and a sneeze. Transport will be managed differently, cars will be one option but not necessarily a favoured one, walking and bikes are others. You will hear the view that security will expand, but become more complicated as frontline workers are exposed to new risks, how expectations of privacy will change in line with the requirements of tracking and contact. All this is happening as public anxiety grows providing that complex context for security work.