Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 104

One of the reasons for the reticence to make
large operational security investments against
terrorism is that top management in chemical
companies overestimate the perceived costs of
operational security measures for this low
likelihood purpose, and underestimate the
potential benefits. Consequently, short term
decisions are taken. A way to make more
rational investments in terrorism prevention is
by examining what kind of hypothetical benefits
(e.g. by avoiding certain terrorist scenarios)
could be derived from large scale security
investments (and taking the likelihood of the
assessed scenarios into consideration). It is
indeed possible to answer the question of to
what extent it is beneficial to invest in security
measures with much more accuracy than is
done in current industrial practice. In many
cases, due to the lack of rigorousness, the
estimated hypothetical benefits should most
likely be much higher than is currently assumed
by the large majority of practitioners.
Decision making
Calculating the cost of operational security in
economic terms is very difficult and receives a
lot of criticism because many assumptions
have to be made, and choices have to be made
in order to arrive at a result. As such, the
outcome is often surrounded by a great deal of
uncertainty. One should also be careful that an
economic approach which is employed to back
up security investment decisions is not misused
and does not merely serve the purpose of
giving an organisation an aura of being
scientific about security measures taken. The
complexity of an economic analysis often leads
to difficulties for non-experts in understanding
the premises and assumptions made.
Economic analyses can indeed be misused
by those who desire to do so, since there
is plenty of room for adjustment of the
assumptions and methods in order to obtain
security future could be seen as an agreement between
various parties to achieve a specified level of security at some
agreed point in time in the future. This could, for example,
involve senior management and the security managers working in a
chemical company. Preventive investments in security will be required
to achieve this goal. This example immediately demonstrates the link
between operational security and economic issues. All companies deal
in security futures, even if they do not usually give particular
consideration very explicitly.
To have adequate operational security installed in a chemical company,
one must realise that there are two types of risk in the chemical industry
– namely the risk of what might be called ‘ordinary’ security events (e.g.
thefts) on the one hand, and the risk of major security events (such as
those caused by terrorism) on the other. Both types of risk deserve
attention, and both types give rise to two types of security futures, which
should not be confused. Economic decisions concerning those security
risks characterised by a high degree of uncertainty (e.g. terrorism)
should be considered with more caution and care than security risks
where there is considerable knowledge (e.g. thefts). That may seem
obvious, but in practice, it is not always the case. Operational security
investment policies usually focus merely on ordinary security events in
chemical companies. However, such a security investment policy may
not be the most optimal one. More research therefore needs to be
conducted in order to have a more objective idea of operational security
investment decision making aimed at preventing and limiting both
ordinary and extraordinary security events.
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
Operational security
Dr Genserik Reniers,
professor of safety of hazardous materials at TU Delft,
considers the importance of private firms fully addressing ‘security futures’ in
the chemical industry
Genserik Reniers
Measures to address
both ‘ordinary’ and
major security
incidents at
chemical plants need
to be considered,
says Reniers
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