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Road trip to the east coast; what an experience!

My family and I took a 2-week vacation from the hustle and bustle of Toronto life and decided to take a road trip to the East Coast of Canada.

Vacation

Everyone told me to leave work behind and to enjoy my vacation. Believe it or not, that felt stressful. I just could not imagine going on vacation and being out of touch with work.

Work life balance! What exactly does this mean?

I know for me, work is an integral part of the person I am, and family defines me. However, if you tell me not to worry about work until I come back, that would just create anxiety and tension during my vacation, which is completely counterproductive.

For the first time in my career, I think I figured it out. I realize now that work-life balance is unique to each individual. Finding your happy place is important.Vacation2

If you Google work life balance, you will see so many different philosophies on the best approach. An article that I came across resonated with me. It said, “Vacations are a precious opportunity to relieve stress, spend quality time with family and friends, and experience different cultures and lifestyles. The benefits of vacations are considerably diminished, however, when work follows you from the office to the airplane or campsite.

The reality is that many vacations can quickly become an extension of work. A guided tour gets interrupted by a conference call, a
day at the beach gets swallowed up by answering emails, and dinner is postponed to complete a proposal. While you might not be able to leave work at home completely, there are ways to reduce its presence so that you can better enjoy your vacation”.
During a previous vacation last year, shutting work down completely caused me to have more stress and anxiety. I was worried because we had so much on the go with proposals and start-ups, I just didn’t feel comfortable being on vacation.

This time, I wanted it to be different. I wanted that time to enjoy with my family and appreciate the time away to re-balance. For me the only way to enjoy it was to stay in touch with work. I just know that shutting it off completely and not knowing what to anticipate when I got back to work would have caused me more stress. Instead, I checked in a few times a day. Some days I check in more and some days less. What made it different this time is that I did it when it was convenient for me (my family). That was just perfect!

Vacation3

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Should We Be Saying No To Pokémon Go?

The creators of Pokémon have done it again. Since being created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri, Pokémon has become the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind Nintendo’s Mario franchise. The franchise began as a video game for the original Game Boy, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo. The franchise has since expanded to trading card games, animated television shows and movies, comic books, and toys.

The newest edition to the franchise is Pokémon Go, a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game allowing players to capture, battle, and train their Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. It has quickly become one of the most used smart device apps after launching, surpassing the previous record held by Candy Crush in the United States.

So should we be saying no to downloading Pokémon Go or should we be encouraging others to download it and play? Is it a safe or dangerous game? Some of the praise Pokémon Go has been receiving includes the overall game experience (as it is a new type of gaming), the incentive to get out in the real world and, in my option, one of the most significant benefits, the potential of improving mental and physical health.

ChrisMcClelland

My daughter with her Pokemon.

Now some of the complaints I have heard range from small problems with technical issues that have been experienced such as constant crashes and server issues to larger and more dangerous problems such as serious incidents of accidents and public nuisance. There have been reports of people complaining about exercise-induced pain shortly after the game launched as many people went from little to no exercise to miles of walking and long periods of standing. Some of the more serious incidents that have been reported include people being hit by a vehicle or causing accidents by not paying attention. However, the biggest concern with Pokémon Go is its security issues.

The risks range from reported cases of malware and exploits to concerns about the publisher’s storage and use of players’ personal data, to reported cases of real-world bad guys using the game’s system of visible Pokémon ‘lures’ (which can draw huge crowds) as a honeypot for armed robberies. The malware issue is only a problem for people downloading the game when it has not yet been released in their country and can be easily prevented by downloading the game from reliable sources. For the other issues, there is not much you can do except for knowing the risks before agreeing to an app privacy policy. Pokémon Go is not the only app that asks for access to personal information, but it is important to know what they are asking to use it for.

For myself, I like the idea of a game that promotes users from all around the world to have fun, socialize, and get fit as they play and explore. I’d just like to see some stronger regulations and openness from developers of these apps towards privacy and security.

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Diversity and Inclusion in Security

When the Pride Parade was going on in Ontario earlier this summer, my children were listening to the radio and asked why some people were celebrating, and why others were protesting. My son’s comment was, “we live in Canada; it is our right to be whom we want to be, as good citizens”. He still seemed puzzled; even after I explained the challenges faced by minority groups, and the inequalities that we unfortunately still have in our society. In his young mind, he could not believe that this happens right here in Toronto, in a country he believed was without prejudice. The only way I could help him understand was to relate this situation to bullying, and how people must come together to shift the power that creates opportunities for bullying and inequity.sdf

This conversation caused me to reflect on inequalities around me, and my role in speaking up for diversity and inclusiveness. I have been in the security industry since 2002, where some elements of diversity are so advanced compared to many other industries. However, women in the security industry continue to be underrepresented. Statistics show that women just don’t apply for security positions.

The good news is that our customers are asking the right questions. I have had many requests for proposals that have asked for responses to diversity, female ownership, and disability and Aboriginal involvement. Unfortunately, it is not enough. I am reminded of that as I look around after 14 years in the industry, and see that women are still vastly underrepresented in this industry.

Although there is no easy answer, we now have the momentum of the voices around us, and the inspiration from events like the Pride Parade. I am committed to doing my part to keep this subject on the table, and to support diversity in our industry.

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Diversity in the Guarding Industry

There are several definitions describing diversity, but it generally means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

Within the security industry, the most prevalent discussions are around the small percentage of women working as security professionals and guards. There are variances by country, but generally, the percentage of security licence holders is somewhere between 8-20%. People with physical disabilities are hardly represented (1-2%) despite the fact that many roles do not require physical intervention. Research on gender, ethnic minorities, and disabilities showed that the private security industry also had a lower percentage when compared to industries such as passenger transport, facility management and policing.

It may be important for the industry to address its lack of diversity and equality. There is a consensus that a greater commitment to equality and diversity in the private security industry would improve industry perceptions. However creating this more equal and diverse industry would be challenging. Overcoming the negative perception of the industry is a significant task. Securing a commitment to equality and diversity from buyers of security services, who shape demand, can also be an obstacle. Another challenge is the lack of professionalism and career progression, which means certain minority groups are not attracted to working within the industry.

A way to improve the situation is through highlighting career possibilities as a way to attract more diverse applicants. Sharing positive experiences and case studies can also be important.

To change the situation for women in the industry, it is important that employers integrate gender into all staff training and all company policies and codes of conduct that would logically address gender equality and the benefits of diversity. Of course, issues of sexual harassment, violence, internal discrimination and other human rights violations also need to be addressed directly. When possible, promoting qualified women into positions of authority within the company would send a powerful message about competence and acceptance.

Prosegur, the third largest security company in the world, is led by a woman; Helena Revoredo. Still the track record of her company on gender balance leaves a lot to be desired. We need employers, such as Ms. Revoredo, to take decisive steps to cultivate a culture of gender inclusion.

There already is a large diversity when it comes to ethnicity in the guard force. Employees from different backgrounds, many of them immigrants have joined guarding companies. In order to ensure a proper alignment and integration within the company culture, a thorough understanding is key. More and more companies are implementing diversity training for their employees, management and field staff. This is beneficial from the perspective of understanding one another within the workforce, but equally important when dealing with diverse customers at large.

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Security is Everyone’s Responsibility

Ever since I heard the story of a 7-year-old girl who was injured watching her dad water-ski; my thought process has changed. Augusta accidentally fell out of the boat and severed 95% of her leg from the blade of the motor. I can see how this can happen to anyone. Augusta’s parents were able to keep her calm and control the situation until an air ambulance arrived. The incident took place two years ago, and to this day when my family and I go boating, I watch the kids in the boat as much as the tubers and water-skiers. I try to assess all hazards to ascertain security for all.

In today’s world, society has taken a paradigm shift leaving us to reassess how security measures are being looked at. Although not relevant to Augusta’s story, it is relative to the current global hazards. All elements of risks must be analyzed. What are the chances of your safety being sabotaged? Identifying the probability, likelihood and impact of a threat has to be second nature.
The expectation that all risk can be mitigated is false. However, it can be managed and minimized in most situations. The question is how far do you go in terms of mitigating risk. The issue gets muddy when you consider an investment of time versus dollars.

The hectic pace of life and work causes all of us to take shortcuts – often for convenience. Just walk around your home and identify all the hazards – from an ill-placed vacuum cleaner to boxes piled up in the basement. We create hazards often unknowingly or with the intent that you will deal with it another day.

The leading cause of injury and death amongst children and teenagers is accidents. In every situation, there was at least one hazard or factor that could have been addressed.

If we think of it in terms of a ROI, a 10-second investment to move an obstacle could prevent an injury or save a life. Imagine if we could quantify that in dollars, wouldn’t you make that investment?

The difference between time and money is that you may not ever know if there was a return on your investment because you can’t guarantee something will happen. With money, you gain, lose or break even.

The best security access systems in the world are rendered useless if the doors do not close or are broken. No different than your brakes on the car. If you allow your pads to get worn out, the risk of accident/injury/damage/death goes up significantly. Most of us would make that investment.

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TruckNews.com Article: How to stop cargo crime from happening to you

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June 20, 2016
by Sonia Straface

KING CITY, Ont. — It’s no secret that cargo crime is a major issue in North America. In Canada alone, cargo theft costs the economy $5 billion per year.

So to help fleet managers understand how to protect their businesses from cargo crime, Constable Chris Bertrand of the Peel Regional Police and Han Koren of Afimac Global spoke to attendees at the Private Motor Truck Council’s annual conference in King City, Ont.

In order for fleets to prevent cargo crime from occurring in their own operations, they need to think like a bank, according to Bertrand.

“You hear about bank robberies all the time. They’re in the newspapers, they’re covered on TV, but there’s only about 12 (in Peel Region) per year,” he said.

To compare that with cargo crime, there were 119 reports of cargo thefts in 2014, Bertrand said adding that the average loss for a cargo load is $145,000 while the average loss for a bank robbery is just over $1,600. Koren added that close to 50% of all cargo thefts go unreported.

So what are the banks doing to curb robbers?

First off, Bertrand said banks are much better at surveillance than the average trucking company.

“On average they have 22 security cameras in every bank. But not only that, the cameras are strategically placed,” he said. “So don’t just install one camera to capture the whole property, they have to be strategically placed.”

Bertrand explained that when you only install one camera, you only get one angle and most times you can’t see the face of the perpetrator because the camera is low quality and too far away.

Banks also use the media to their advantage, Bertrand said. Something the trucking industry doesn’t do for fear they will lose customers.

“Banks are never afraid to say they were victimized. A lot of trucking companies are, and that’s understandable because there’s a lot of competition in the trucking industry and you don’t want to have a customer read that your trucking company has had a number of loads stolen because then they’re not going to transport their products with you,” he explained.

Bertrand and Koren agreed that it could also be worthwhile for fleets to run voluntary background checks before hiring a new employee.

Koren said it doesn’t make sense to employ a driver responsible for $500,000 worth of cargo without doing a background check first.

One type of check on potential employees that fleets can do without doing a formal background check is social media profiling explained, Koren.

“So if you have a suspicion, or if you want to know more about who you’re recruiting, a check can be done on social media and it’s amazing what people share now on social media. Many companies as part of their recruiting process are using that tool,” he said.

A properly lit parking lot is also a good idea to consider as most cargo thieves would be put off by bright lights shining down on them, said Koren.

“Never leave your loads in truck overnight,” Bertrand added. “The vast majority of stolen cargo, that’s what happens. The driver wants to hit the road first thing in the morning. So they’re going to put the load in the truck, lock it up and then leave at night. Well, what the thieves are going to be doing is going to unsecured yards and they’re going to knock on a truck to tell if they truck is loaded or not and if it’s loaded, they’re going to take it.”

Furthermore, it would be wise to hire a security guard to man your yard 24/7 in order to thwart thieves from snooping around your yard, Bertrand said.

“The trucking industry is growing and sometimes this means more unsecured yards which make it easy to snatch loads,” said Koren.

Bertrand and Koren also said it would also be worth while to consider places GPS devices in your trucks, trailers and loads.

While all of these tips can take a hit on your wallet, both Koren and Bertrand said the money spent on risk management is worth every penny.

“You have to spend some money, but in the end you’re saving yourself money and huge headache of losing a load,” Bertrand said

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Striking the Balance

Last Friday the European soccer tournament commenced with Romania against France. Many people in Canada with European ancestry will be following the games closely, some even attending a game in Europe. There are others that are deciding to stay away from the stadiums, due to the fear of another terrorist attack, specifically in France.

Unfortunately for me (being from the Netherlands), the Dutch did not qualify for this tournament. This is somewhat surprising as they did well in the last World Cup and have some of the best players in the world. Several sports journalists and psychologists have commented on this and claim that the lack of the performance by the Dutch has to do with their mental state of mind. Possibly underestimating the opponents, becoming arrogant and losing unexpectedly. After this happens, they become uncertain, start making more mistakes and play under their capacity, leading to another loss.

In the world of security, in particular, a terrorist threat, the risks can easily be under or overestimated as well. The consequence may be that there is insufficient security, putting people in potential danger. Overestimation of risk can lead to more radical measures such as cancelling games or the whole tournament. There needs to be a balance. Security experts have to identify realistic threats, lower the risk by taking effective measures and still ensure that spectators can enjoy an event, such as the European Championship.

Just days before the championship kicked off, Ukraine security services said they had arrested a Frenchman and an accomplice who were planning attacks on French targets before and during the tournament. The arrests are a reminder that the soccer tournament faces more terrorism threats than just ISIS.

One of the new risks that have been identified are drones flying into a soccer stadium crammed with spectators. The drone may be equipped with just a camera, or something more sinister such as toxic chemicals. Either way, the unauthorized flying machine would be violating a no-fly zone. Taking no chances, organizers have deployed new technology in 10 French cities to protect against unwanted airborne intruders.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury said,”We’ve noted the general proliferation of drone-usage in society, so no-fly zones will be defined over every training ground and every stadium, and in most stadiums and for most matches anti-drone measures — which are quite innovative — will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted.”

French authorities have recorded dozens of mystery drones flying over sensitive sites (mostly nuclear facilities), but also military installations and even the presidential palace. In response, the government is funding research into technology that could interfere with or jam signals that control drones, or even destroy them.

Understanding the type of security measures being taken will hopefully help ease the minds of spectators and let them enjoy the experience of seeing games live instead of on TV. Hopefully, the event will turn out to be a great spectacle with no unexpected security breach. Let the best team win.

 

 

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Plan E for Emergency! Are You Prepared?

As I hear and read about all the tragic and heart-wrenching events that have taken place over the years, I start to wonder what my family and I would do in an emergency situation. We are told that we should have this and that, in case something happens, but I have never met anyone who is actually prepared for an emergency. As a husband and father of two small children, a 4 and 1-year-old, it terrifies me to think of an emergency situation happening to my family, especially if I am not there. Unfortunately, it usually takes a serious event to get people to think about these things and prepare for what they would do. After the forest fires in Fort McMurray, my wife and I decided that we should have plans for different disasters and emergencies.

We started with teaching my son about fire safety and created a plan of what to do if a fire occurs in our house. The plan included different ways to get out of the house, places he can go, and who he can call when he is safe. The most difficult thing to talk about was getting his sister out and not worrying about his parents. This was a quick discussion as he is only 4 years old, but it is important to talk to your family about these types of situations, no matter how horrible they may be because everyone needs to know what they should do in these events. After creating our fire plan, we went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of nonperishable foods and some emergency supplies so we could be prepared for other emergencies.

After this, I thought my family and I would be ready for any situation that might occur until I was at home with my two children while my wife was at work. I was walking down the stairs carrying my daughter when I caught my foot on one of the steps and almost lost my balance. Luckily I did not fall, but it made me think about what would happen if I did hurt myself badly? Would my son know what to do? I travel for work and started to think about when he’s alone with his mother. He has learned her cell phone number (not mine yet) but like most people, cell phones are password protected, and we do not have a home phone. How would he call for help? At this point, I remembered about a function that most iPhone’s have for emergencies. On the bottom left-hand corner, there is an emergency button that appears, and you can call 911. Also, there is a button labeled medical ID. If you touch this button, it will list emergency contacts (with a link to call them) as well as some medical information about yourself, such as blood type and if you are an organ donor. This feature is very useful, not only for emergencies at home but also if you get into an accident anywhere. Paramedics can access this information along with your appointed emergency contact. This data needs to be filled out through the health app on your phone.

I know we cannot have a plan for everything, nor can we be fully prepared for an emergency or disaster but I feel more comfortable knowing that my family has discussed what could happen and what they should do. The most important part of any plan is to educate.

 

For more information on emergency planning with your family visit: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/yprprdnssgd/index-en.aspx

 

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Bid Rigging…Global Growth Requiring Urgent Policy Response – Where Are we Headed?

On February 18, 2016, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) published this statement, “Elusive global growth outlook requires urgent policy response”. Although, the article doesn’t mention bid rigging – governments need to take a hard look at their policies and processes when getting quotes for major projects.

On May 29, 2016 – The Globe and Mail published an article stating “The federal Competition Bureau is warning governments to be on the lookout for signs of bid-rigging and other shady activity as Ottawa opens the floodgates to spend billions on infrastructure projects across the country.”

Bid rigging has been in existence for many years; companies have been charged in the past for this and yet it still prevails. In 2014, criminal charges were laid for a bid-rigging conspiracy in connection to information-technology contracts at Library and Archives Canada. Another recent example in April 2016; “Bombardier Inc. taking on the mayor of Chicago and the city’s transit agency… alleging that a $1.3 billion (U.S.) rail car contract awarded to a rival Chinese bidder was “rigged.”

Is bid rigging driven by greed or opportunity? Dealing with numerous RFPs over the years, I can say from experience that we all need to take ownership. Customers are being instructed to keep costs down, and vendors are trying to survive in markets that are expecting more for less. As a result, the industry has become so competitive, depleting any margin. Procurement is mandated to get the best product/service for the best price. Companies focus on ways to win the bid while still being able to stay afloat financially. All government RFPs say no collusion – this is the right thing to do. But what happens is the vendors that don’t work together compete against each other for virtually no margin. This is a problem that we can’t ignore.

So, what do we need to do to prevent corruption and what are the red flags to avoid bid rigging?

  • The client needs to be respectful to costs
  • Vendors can’t survive without any margins
    • The customer needs to understand what a fair market margin is
  • Audit and visit the vendors that are shortlisted
    • Are they able to do what they are committing to
  • The agreement should be guided by a transparent reporting structure
    • Contract management doesn’t stop upon award – it is just the beginning
  • Create service level agreements and key performance measurements that include a clear profit margin
  • Audit the program regularly once established
  • Ensure the award is based on merit, be aware of ‘sweetheart’ deals
  • Investigate the process

Duty of care is usually a term used to ensure due diligence is maintained in safeguarding employees. What about the duty of care to businesses and the negative impact on a cutthroat process? Bid Rigging creates debt that ultimately affects everyone.

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Fort McMurray – The Next Phase

CaptureThe fires around Fort McMurray will be the largest disaster on Canadian soil in history. Since May 2nd, the fire has expanded rapidly covering an area of over 241,000 hectares, the size of roughly one-third of the Greater Toronto Area. The fact that the fire destroyed 2400 houses and buildings and displaced nearly 90,000 people also makes it a human tragedy. Losing all your belongings and memories must be a devastating feeling. The moment that the city will be opened up is getting closer. The expectation is that the government will implement a phased approach. For example, those who work in essential services will go as the first group. Another group is the specialized engineers and insurance adjusters. Many of them are currently handing out cheques to policyholders in surrounding safe shelters. Once Fort McMurray is open to them, they will need to assess the damages to all affected homes and businesses. In some neighbourhoods, the losses are catastrophic and in others, there is only light smoke damage. The moment the city opens up there will be safety and security concerns. In many instances, properties will require some form of protection as it may not be livable, but may still contain valuable content. Also, a thorough inspection must be conducted to determine the damages, and the scene cannot be tampered with. Support in this next phase may also center around housing, food, cleaning and other basic needs. These services can be provided in the form of temporary camps with bedding and linens, kitchen trailers, shower facilities, laundry trailers and other equipment.

It is not only Western Canada that is experiencing a high amount of fires. Recently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry reported 45 fires that have burned over 85 hectares of land in Northern Ontario so far.

Dr. Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, thinks this might be just a taste of things to come. Fire is a normal part of many ecosystems but the fire regime is changing in Canada, as warmer, dryer conditions, due to global warming, increase the chances of more frequent and intense wildfires. We’re also putting ourselves more at risk from fire by moving into naturally fire-prone environments in ever larger numbers.

Both of these factors will oblige us to learn to live and co-exist with fire, and find ways to reduce our risk and exposure when it comes.” (http://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/quirks-quarks-for-may-7-2016-1.3570026/fort-mcmurray-and-the-future-of-fire-1.3570153)

Many remote mines and oils sand operations have taken measures to protect their facilities against the destruction. Vast areas around the plants are cleared, so there is no material for the fire to consume. However, they still depend on functioning cities where their workers live and highways are used for transportation, products, and equipment.

The events of Fort McMurray will spark debates over how to protect vulnerable areas.

 

 

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