Bonnie Butlin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum
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Security-related businesses may face several trends in navigating the changed 2022 technologically advanced and information-rich global security landscape, which are demonstrated by the global pandemic management and the accelerated development of hypersonic weapons systems:
Less certainty, greater complexity, despite technological advances – The complex SARS-CoV-2 virus and its origin remain unknown or not well understood despite ample resources worldwide and unprecedented pandemic management. Hypersonic weapons systems are harder to defeat in time, being faster, less detectable and less predictable in their trajectory.
Compressed decision-making timelines – The unknowns associated with SARS-CoV-2, paired with worst-case modelling projections, have prompted politicians and health authorities to act more quickly and aggressively than non-emergency processes would dictate. The unfathomable possibility of not defeating in time nuclear weapons systems with unpredictable trajectories, have prompted the rethinking of established defence systems (NORAD), developmental weapons systems (electromagnetic rail gun weapons and conventionally armed hypersonic weapons) and generated new information ‘overmatch’ command and control concepts (e.g. US JADC2).
Shrinking geographic boundaries – Pandemic management featured an unprecedented global policing response, international and centralised public health guidance, travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions, that continue to affect businesses. Hypersonic weapons development, including with orbital capabilities, has increased the global projection capabilities of adversaries.
Information dominant environment – Both the pandemic response and hypersonic weapons systems rely on data, censors, computer analytics and more rapid decision-making. Both are pushing the boundaries of information dominance toward more rapid decision-making throughout networks, in close to real time. This trend may drive a renewed interest in operational intelligence for strategic effect, on faster time cycles than strategic intelligence or traditional strategic planning, in a faster-paced security and business landscape.
Greater flexibility and agility – Modular, open but secure architectures and more flexible procurement models are increasingly sought after to drive faster innovation. Both the health and military sectors are relying more heavily upon the private sector, which has been making significant gains even in the space domain. This more agile model presents new opportunities for the private sector, including smaller, innovative businesses.
Departure from the norm and embracing new models – Pandemic management relied less on traditional risk management and security disciplines than on public health. Political leadership, typically risk-averse, have taken large risks to avoid other risks altogether, as with broad lockdowns, emergency-approved jabs and mandates and zero-risk models for pandemic management. Current leadership appears to be embracing new models and frameworks for security and risk, rather than ‘going back to basics’, even when experimentation, like zero-risk approaches, failed. New ‘health security’ frameworks and structures are emerging as a result, such as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Risk of overstretch over space and time – Pandemic management costs have been unprecedented as global leaders sought to protect entire populations from the virus, creating extreme disruptions and financial strain. Addressing hypersonic weapons now involves protecting land masses previously thought to be less vulnerable. Despite compressed decision-making timelines, the pandemic has extended for two years, well beyond the original two weeks anticipated.
Bonnie Butlin, also known around the world as “Canada’s First Lady of Security”, is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum (SPF), a first-of-its-kind agile international network of security professionals, bridging all domains and disciplines of security. Under the SPF banner, she created the Women in Security and Resilience Alliance (WISECRA), which engages a growing network of women in security and resilience associations and groups globally.
This article was originally published in the December 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here