In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers. The doors to stairways had been locked to reduce theft and control the work breaks being taken. When a fire broke out, the foreman fled with the keys. If this same event occurred today, the Triangle Shirtwaist brand would be burned on the pyre of social media. Consumers would stop buying Triangle Shirtwaist fashions for a time, and the brand would never fully recover. The real operators of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory walked away with minor fines to continue operations. In fact, shortly after, they were fined for locking those same doors on the workers.
Unlike the operators of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, organizations today understand that their most critical risks are the ones that will cause the biggest damage to their brand. Physical security professionals with a duty of care for locations, factories, office buildings, or arenas will put a premium on human lives. Property damage costs are typically manageable, but the loss of human lives can generate negative and possibly unrecoverable outcomes for brands.
New Focus for Physical Security
Consumers have been given powerful voices and influence on social media. Everything is being connected to the Internet with IoT technologies. The distinction between physical and digital is dissolving, and what connects them both for security professionals is the brand. In business, the brand is everything. Increasingly, physical and cybersecurity professionals are prioritizing risks with negatives outcomes to the brand as critical threats.
For physical security professionals managing safety and security risks to locations and facilities, this might involve access control, camera systems, or even drones. But consider this: The Internet is undeniably where people go to communicate. An offensive approach using Internet chatter and data from social media, news, blogs, and the Dark Web is necessary to mitigate risks to human lives and protect brand interests. This can be used for situational awareness during a crisis, to discover potential threat indicators online, and to gauge social sentiment.
Structural Failure at the Bangladesh Dhaka Factory
Labor and workplace conditions in North America and Europe may have improved significantly in the past 100 years, but many industries have moved to countries where goods can be produced cheaply and under more relaxed regulatory standards. The 2013 Dhaka factory collapse, which tragically occurred when cracks in the wall went unchecked, claimed the lives of more than 230 people.
The Day Before the Factory Collapse: Wednesday, April 23
- Local industrial police ordered the evacuation of the eight-story Rana Plaza building due to deep cracks visible in the walls.
- Garment factory operators ignored those instructions, forcing some 2000 workers to remain in the building and continue working.
- The managers of a local bank that also had an office in the building followed orders, evacuating and temporarily shutting down that branch.
- Local news media coverage on building conditions and evacuation orders confirms and records the condition of the building on the day before the collapse. Deep cracks in the wall are visible in film footage.
The Day of the Collapse: April 24
- The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association also asked the factories to suspend work starting Wednesday morning, hours before the collapse.
This incident resulted in a global outcry demanding better conditions for workers. Much of the protest came from those places where those brands are sold. Brands reacted by distancing themselves from the factory or by recommitting themselves to safe and equitable conditions in all their offshore factories.
Internet Intelligence & Investigations for Facilities
A security strategy should reduce costs and increase the ability to protect lives and property while demonstrating measurable value to business results. While the Internet has in many cases become our greatest liability, it is a powerful source of data for security professionals. The challenge lies in locating and further investigating the right intelligence when much of the Internet is hidden, and hard to find.
The Media Sonar platform lets you do just that:
- Identify the assets you need to protect: First, you need to list all the assets you need to protect across your organization. Physical and digital assets should equally be included in this list. Media Sonar helps you detect critical risks to your factories, office buildings, or any locations where you operate. Our platform also helps you identify risks to digital assets, executives, your brand, and any assets with a digital footprint and presence online.
- Prioritize your critical risks: There are many types of risks that could impact your facilities. Media Sonar lets you prioritize your critical risks for threats to human lives or anything with a negative outcome for your brand. This can include risks such as potential structural failures or accidents like in the cases discussed here, violent threats, etc.
- Active listening for risk indicators: The Media Sonar platform automatically queries Internet data for critical risks to your facilities giving you more than a point in time view. Active listening is important to help signal a potential threat and for situational awareness during a major crisis. It would be impossible to manually search Internet data sources for risk indicators, not without taking up a considerable amount of time. To proactively detect threats, an automated method will help save you time and resources while giving broad visibility across a wide range of data sources.
- Investigate threats and assess sentiment: If a crisis does occur, use the Media Sonar platform to further investigate Internet data related to a threat, find out what people are saying, assess social sentiment, or even trace a threat to its source.
Brands in business with the Dhaka factories had inspected them and trusted they were being managed in accordance with agreements, but they were limited to a point in time view. Indicators of potential risks to workers were there in news reporting and it is doubtful even in 2013 that there would not have been multiple reports from among the 2000 workers on social media. But risk a moving target. Managing risk requires an offensive and proactive approach. Where brand reputation is everything, the Media Sonar software equips physical security professionals with the tools and data they need to protect what matters most.