Jane Embury, director, looks at perceptions of safety and looking to the future.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that we must be better prepared.
It’s a lesson that government must learn to counter any further pandemic. We should also review contingency plans for other possible events.
The lesson of COVID-19 is that, while the unlikely will always be unlikely, that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
The same goes for our long-term plans for terrorism. A terrorist attack may not be imminent, but we do know that they can and do happen.
Again, COVID-19 may have lulled us into a false sense of complacency.
After all, earlier this year, the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group told its operatives to stay clear of Europe. It described Europe as ‘the land of the epidemic.’
The advice from IS, not hitherto known as a source of good health advice, was contained in its Al-Naba newsletter.
The group issued a set of “sharia directives” that, very responsibly, also instructed followers to ‘cover their mouths when yawning and sneezing’ and to wash their hands regularly.
However, it’s likely that terrorist inactivity won’t last for long, and that we shouldn’t become complacent.
The difficulty, of course, lies in countering a threat that is organised internationally, but often waged by proxy through locally-radicalised individuals.
As the IRA once boasted after a failed attack: ‘You need to be lucky every time; we need only to be lucky once.’
Countering the threat of bomb-based terrorism if why we developed advanced systems that can minimise damage and save lives.
Our core product ranges are aimed at containing fire. But we’ve also supplied our bomb-protective systems nationally and internationally.
Apart from the UK, we have supplied those specialist systems to Qatar, the USA and Saudi Arabia.
We originally tested our systems at a specialist site in Northumberland. This involved the structurally-glazed system being subjected to the equivalent of 500 kilos of TNT. That’s roughly ten times the size of a car bomb, and you can see videos on our website.
The importance of the test is that, in urban areas, between 80-85% of all secondary blast injuries are caused by flying glass.
Our system’s strength is achieved by a high-specification glazing technique. This bonds the glass to the framing support system. This absorbs the thermal shock of the explosion.
Despite health advice from IS, we live in uncertain times, not just from COVID-19. We still need maximum resilience to be built into our buildings and urban landscapes.
But as one design critic has said: “We might live in dangerous times, but they don’t have to be ugly ones too.”
That’s good news for us because our blast-mitigation system look no different from an ordinary (non-protective) glazing system.
That’s not only an aesthetic consideration. It can also be an important consideration when disguising a building’s level of security.
That’s something we know all about, having been involved in, for example, major transport projects here and internationally.
The COVID-19 pandemic will pass. What we don’t want in its place is a false sense of complacency.
Guarding against terrorism may be guarding against the unlikely. But, as we’ve seen all too clearly this year, the unlikely can happen.
Photo: Our live bomb test