ISJ Exclusive: The Last Word


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Mark Whyte, Partner, EMEA at Control Risks, examines industry perspectives and his company’s expansion plans.

How have approaches to the mitigation of risk on large-scale real estate and infrastructure evolved over recent years?

Traditional approaches to managing risk on large real estate and infrastructure projects tend to be siloed in nature: operational and construction risk on one side of the house and planning for security, criminality and terrorism risks on the other. Rarely did we see risk addressed in an integrated way across the entirety of the risk spectrum or considered through the whole project lifecycle.  

Consequently, this could result in many critical risks being overlooked or dealt with as standalone items within specific design disciplines. This would often lead to decisions required at early stages of development and at the concept masterplan stage being made without full consideration of their wider implications.

From a security risk perspective, the result could be sub-optimal operational and commercial solutions, retro-fitting of physical and electronic systems and a lasting disconnect between the security infrastructure and operational security activity at the completed development.

Developers and investors are increasingly realising today’s pioneering mega- and giga-projects around the world are complex, smart, highly integrated ecosystems, with challenging net zero targets, that demand an enterprise-wide approach to the identification, prioritisation and management of risk.

And, importantly, an approach that acknowledges and responds to the volatile and temporal nature of risk.  We now see developers considering a range of issues: worker welfare and social compliance, cyber security, climate/environment, security, regulatory, reputational, supply chain, corruption, construction and operational and using these to inform planning and design decisions from the strategic to the tactical level. 

How has the global risk landscape changed over the last few years?

We continue to see the ebb and flow of traditional risks such as criminality, terrorism, protest and disorder but with the application of new technologies by those actors – such as the use of drones by criminals and terrorists – identifying and mitigating only these risks falling into a security comfort zone.  

Of more interest is the changing nature of the risk profile of new urban developments and the way organisations perceive and respond to a much wider range of issues. 

New developments are adopting smart technologies for everything from traffic control systems to ticketing, healthcare and wider public services, as well as integrating traditional industrial control systems to create city-wide management systems.

This in turn creates a huge attack surface for increasingly sophisticated cyber-criminals and the potential for exponential disruption due to an attack.

The tangible and reputational impact of getting these things wrong can be huge.

Can you tell us more about how Control Risks supports clients in the infrastructure sector?

We have a truly unique capability in the market. Over the last few years we have built a multi-disciplined global real estate practice, hiring subject matter experts who understand the nature of the risks faced by our clients and the approaches used to properly address them.

Our team consists of risk and resilience professionals with decades of experience across many disciplines.

This team allows us to tailor our solutions for our clients, putting in place expert teams that can support them across the entirety of the risk spectrum and the whole project lifecycle.

How can powerful AI and analytics contribute to effective risk assessment?

Organisations are increasingly consulting multiple open source and commercial information platforms to meet the information needs of their businesses, yet many organisations find it difficult to fully exploit the information they are accessing. 

This can stem from issues such as poorly defined information requirements, information overload, redundant and disconnected event monitoring, fragmented information presentation, poor visualisation and limited analytical capability.  

Deploying data analytics techniques, backed up by artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help with making sense of the information blizzard. When employed as part of a threat-monitoring programme built upon the principles of the intelligence cycle, it provides a powerful capability for organisations.

You will have seen the recent announcements about Seerist, the world’s first augmented analytics technology for security and threat intelligence. I really believe this is game-changing: Seerist merges the knowledge and expertise of the Control Risks CORE analytics team with the machine learning backbone from Geospark Analytics’ Hyperion platform.  This will provide our clients with ever richer data to support their planning and decision making.

What are Control Risks’ plans for the remainder of 2022?

Right now, we are heavily committed to a number of very large infrastructure and real estate projects across the globe. We are actively recruiting across the spectrum of our services as we continue to expand.

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This article was originally published in the special September show edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here

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