Report • 04.12.2012

Security has many different aspects

Prevention provides security and protects against damages, but security also costs money. Prevention does not come free. And since you never know how big a possible damage could be, the benefit of security cannot be exactly calculated. Nevertheless, security in many areas is important for retail.

Product safety perhaps ranks first. The merchandise is not meant to cause harm to the buyer. When products make the headlines because of defects, missing GS marks or accidents, it is not just the manufacturer that suffers. Product recalls also cost retailers lots of money and work – not to mention image damages.

However, not just the product, but also shopping is meant to be safe. ”Caution slip hazard! “ – the sign cautions against ice and slickness during the winter; in some place it also warns against wet floors in the market place if the floors are being cleaned. In any case, it limits the shopping experience. For the ambient air to be free of hazardous substances, on the other hand is something customers and employees can only hope for, but not actually see.

Safe shopping also includes protection against muggings. The safer banks are getting, the more retailers are at risk. Small businesses with only one or two employees are more of a target for assailants. Ralf Becker, Managing Director of Draht+Schutz points this out in an interview on this focal topic. Gas station shops are especially at risk with their late opening hours. More and more often, they change cash registers into auto-locked payment machines. Each year, the EuroCIS trade fair in Düsseldorf offers new information on the topic of cash handling.

Building safety is also important to retailers. The sooner a break-in or fire is being discovered, the faster the police and fire department will be on location and the greater the chance of catching the thieves and nipping blazing flames in the bud. Although insurance companies compensate for many things, the requirements of these companies are getting more stringent. Those who do not invest in safety features and equipments, pay higher premiums. There are many technical options. One of them is modern video technology. Our second interview reveals what the latest cameras are able to do and what advantages digital technology offers compared to analog technology. Interview partner is Detlef Schreiber, Managing Director DACH for the Taiwanese manufacturer EverFocus Electronics.

September: The world’s leading trade fair for Security in Essen, Germany

The Security Messe (Security Trade Show) from September 25 to 28 in Essen provides information on the latest state of technology on all things safety and security. This year marks its 20th time. Approximately 1,100 exhibitors from nearly 40 countries display their products at the world’s leading trade fair for Security and Fire Protection. Visitors can get informed about mechanical safety systems, fire prevention and IT security, safety systems for premises and video surveillance all the way to solutions for reporting robberies, break-ins and burglaries.

As is common practice for many trade fairs, Essen bestows ”awards“ for innovative products. There is also an extensive accompanying program with lectures. Future-oriented topics of the industry sector are the focus in the new “research area” in Hall 8, where for the first time ever discovery-oriented companies and institutes introduce themselves at a shared booth. Due to popular demand, this year for the first time, the fire prevention area has two exhibition halls available (Halls 1 and 9). The security companies introduce themselves in a special exhibit under the umbrella of the Bundesverband der Sicherheitswirtschaft (BDSW) (“German Federation and Economic Security”) and the  Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Geld- und Wertdienste (BDGW) (“German Federal Union of Money and Valuables”).

October: Occupational Safety and Health in Augsburg

Another important date for security experts is the Arbeitsschutz Aktuell trade fair and congress from October 16 to 18 in Augsburg, Germany. The event takes place every two years at varying sites. Workplace safety is not just a topic at construction sites. As part of the logistics chain, road safety is an important aspect for retail. Occupational physicians keep an eye on many activities in the warehouse, cash register or stock up areas.

At the Olympic Games in London, 46,000 construction workers were involved in building the sports venues – overall 77 million working hours. There were comparatively few accidents and not a single fatality. A study by the Loughborough University mentions especially the exemplary communication processes as a success factor of this favorable assessment, along with the great commitment of all parties involved, clear leadership and respectful cooperation. Retail can also learn from all this. Safety at the workplace should not be a necessary evil. Employees notice if they are being appreciated and if one takes care of their well-being.

Dr. Wolfgang Damberg, President of the Verein Deutscher Revisionsingenieure (VDRI) (“Association of German Technical Inspectors and Safety Engineers”) and Member of the Executive Committee at the Fachvereinigung Arbeitssicherheit (FASI) e.V (“Professional Association for Job Safety”), the conceptual agency of the congress and trade fair in Augsburg, demands a stronger cooperation on all company levels “based on the Olympic example“:“Even though communication structures have already improved in many companies, there is still not enough communication in the actual day-to-day business. It should go without saying that for the purchase of a machine, those who ultimately have to work on it should also be involved in the decision process.“ Why does nobody talk to the staff at the cash register before new scanners or self-service systems are being purchased?

IT security depends on the employees

In all this, one should also keep in mind that the staff could become a security risk. In retail, you should not just think about “inventory differences” caused by dishonest employees. A great work atmosphere has a preventative effect. Security expects mourn the lack of sensitivity at many companies when it comes to IT security. They notice that people in charge of IT, primarily think of firewalls, server failures and internet security. With the increased use of mobile devices for consulting services, sales and material planning, the security of mobile networks and WLAN plays an ever-bigger role. The online platform provides free and neutral information.

What experts criticize the most is that many companies barely know anything about the risks for IT through careless employees. Employees are supposed to be reachable wherever they are and have access to e-mails, store data and delivery processes at home or when they are away. Nevertheless, their laptops or mobile phones are usually not protected against third-party access and when the equipment gets lost or stolen.

Choosing passwords or sending confidential information via e-mail without encryption are also security risks. The same goes for talking on the cell phone in public – especially when it comes to sensitive subjects. Those who travel on the ICE trains in Europe, can process numerous PowerPoint presentations. Thanks to the relatively easy data exchange via e-mail, compact disk and USB stick or via downloads from the Internet, viruses and Trojans quickly enter the company network. Cloud computing brings new challenges.

Security concerns everyone

Security administrators can warn and do a lot, but one dilemma remains: every day they ensure safety – no matter in which of the many areas – is seen as a matter of course. Yet if something goes wrong, the people in charge are held accountable even though many security matters are demands on the entire company and all employees. After all, it is the weakest link that breaks the chain and not the strong bolt where it begins.

René Schellbach,

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