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Things to Consider When Securing a Multi-Tenant Site After a Large Loss

Fire scenes often involve all types of public entities: emergency medical, law enforcement, and fire services. Public utilities such as gas and electric companies may also be involved. Passersby, owners, tenants, customers, delivery agents all may have relevant information on what happened. The press and curious individuals attracted to large fire scenes can complicate investigations, making security a necessity. All of these entities can cause a large loss to spiral out of control very quickly.

Increased complications occur when the loss is at a multi-tenant site due to:

  • Multiple tenants involved
  • Several insurers involved
  • Multiple points of access
  • The mitigation takes longer
  • Property managers could be involved
  • Numerous experts onsite as well as various agencies
  • Higher exposure to liabilities
  • Tenant safety issues
  • Problems with asbestos
  • Fire watches may be required
  • Escorting and tracking systems may be necessary

When more people have access to the site, protecting the valuables that survived a fire becomes more of a concern. Theft of even the smallest item can impede evidence continuity in a case. If an insured wants to return to a scene to recover belongings, their every move must be authorized and recorded, to protect evidence for court. A well-secured scene ensures all items remain onsite and undisturbed until the insurance investigation is complete. A security presence also deters intruders who could be injured and become a liability risk.

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Three Benefits to Having a Mobile Command Centre On-Site

A Safe and Private Meeting Room

A mobile command centre enables insurers to mitigate a loss on location effectively. It allows for spontaneous and confidential meetings between adjusters, engineers, and homeowners directly on-site. This can be particularly valuable in the event of a large-scale loss where immediate and confidential dialogue is critical.

Portable and Personal Office Space

Why go back and forth from your office to the site when you can have a fully operational office right on-site? A mobile command centre is equipped with a desk and chair, a large whiteboard, an Internet-ready computer, printer, and scanner, as well as air conditioning and heating units.

An Extra Layer of Protection

With security signage and decals on the outside of the command centre, it serves as a significant visual deterrent to potential criminals.

ASAP Secured has a 15-foot mobile command centre that can be rapidly deployed to select large loss sites across Ontario, allowing adjusters and other insurance industry professionals the ability to offer immediate assistance to their customers during a crisis or disaster.

To learn more about ASAP Secured and the mobile command centre, please visit: www.asapsecured.com.

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Self-Driving Cars

Last week my son and I sat down to watch the first Transformers movie. He thought it was so cool to see real cars driving themselves, which made me think of how that might become a reality shortly, minus them turning into robots. Currently, only California, Florida, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Michigan allow the testing of self-driving cars. There are many debates on the pros and cons of such vehicles, and both sides have valid points.

A huge benefit of having self-driving cars would be the reduction of vehicle accidents. This technology could also help millions of people who, for various reasons, are unable to drive. In the United States alone there are roughly 5.5 million car crashes per year, which equals out to about one death every 15 minutes or 88 deaths per day. Out of those accidents, 81% were caused by human error. As many of these accidents are preventable, and an alarming number of them are a result of distracted driving, speeding, failing to follow road laws, or driving while tired, drunk, or under the influence of drugs. If these human errors could be removed from the equation, then we could see fewer accidents and vehicle-related deaths. It is estimated that if 10% of cars on the road were self-driving, then there would be 211,000 fewer crashes and 1,100 lives saved. If that number increased to 20%, then there would be 4,220,000 fewer crashes and 21,700 lives saved. Other benefits of self-driving cars include the reduction of time spent commuting, road congestion, and a substantial decrease in insurance premiums.

To get an idea of how self-driving cars could soon be a reality, Google already has high functioning prototypes driving around the Silicon Valley. These vehicles have successfully driven over 3,200,500 km with only 11 minor accidents. Seven involved another vehicle rear-ending the Google car, two were sideswipes, and one involved another vehicle travelling through a red light. This is very impressive after you factor in that the average motorist drives about 25,000 km a year.

There are some downfalls to self-driving cars, one of which is the most dangerous, the security of the vehicle’s software. The possibility of a car being hacked and taken control of is a very serious and concerning issue, especially when there is so much cyber insecurity. This also spirals into the safety of the user’s privacy, as self-driving cars would rely on collecting and sharing location whereabouts and other data. Another problematic issue involves different weather conditions. Heavy rain can interfere with the car’s roof-mounted laser sensor, and snow-covered roads can affect the vehicle’s cameras. Other concerns include the loss of jobs, such as taxi and freight transport drivers.

 

No one knows if there will be more pros than cons if self-driving cars become a reality but for now, we will all just have to wait and see where the road to self-driving cars leads us.

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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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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.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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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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People Helping People in Fort McMurray

Fire seen from the highway in Fort McMurray. (Serghei Cebotari)

Fire seen from the highway in Fort McMurray. (Serghei Cebotari)

Since joining the emergency fire scene division at ASAP Secured back in 2009, I’ve seen a significant amount of buildings lost due to fires or other large disasters. The stories I’ve heard from those involved and the damage that occurred was unbelievable. Many of the fires involved three houses or multi-residential locations such as condos or apartments. There were a few occasions when the disaster took out a block or town square, but those were mostly caused by tornadoes. I have never seen a fire cause as much damage as it has in Fort McMurray.

When visiting fire sites, I am always amazed how quickly and effortlessly the community rallies to support those who were affected. People offered space in their homes, went door to door to gather food, supplies and even toys for the children who were involved. Most families didn’t have time to collect any of their belongings and only had seconds to make sure that everyone got out safely. No one ever thinks that a fire will affect them. It is important to talk with your family about a fire plan and to practice it on a regular basis.

When I heard on the news what other communities around Fort McMurray and all across Alberta were doing to help those who were evacuated, it didn’t surprise me at all. It is great to see not only a province but an entire country come together to help those in need. But there is still a lot that needs to be done. Below are some ways that each of us can contribute:

DONATE MONEY

  1. If you want to donate to the Red Cross, you can give any amount through this link: Alberta Fires Appeal. Alternately, you can donate $5 by texting REDCROSS to 30333 or donate $10 by texting FIRES to 45678. Be careful: Some scammers are posing as the Red Cross asking for money on social media. Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government is matching all donations made to the Red Cross for the Fort McMurray Wildfires.
  2. If you want to donate to the Salvation Army, you can give any amount through this link: Alberta Fire Response.
  3. If you want to donate to Save the Children, you can give any amount through this link: Fort McMurray Emergency Wildfire.

OFFER ACCOMMODATION

  1. If you need a place to stay, or are looking to take in some evacuees, check out these Facebook groups: Fort, Fort McMurray evac relocation help group.
  2. Airbnb has waived all service fees for those affected by the fire, and there are already over 140 places listed on the site for free.
  3. Those able to house displaced people can also sign up at ymmfire.ca

HELP PETS

  1. The Calgary Humane Society is taking donations; you can give here: Fundraiser in Support of Fort McMurray.
  2. The Edmonton Humane Society is also taking donations; you can give here: Fort McMurray Wildfire Donation form.
  3. Those looking to house people’s pets, help unify lost pets with owners, and generally assist with animal rescue should check out this Facebook page: Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance

DONATE FOOD AND ITEMS

  1. If you want to donate items such as blankets or clothes, check out this Facebook group: Fort Mac Fire Donations. Make sure you’re only giving things people actually need. People often donate things after a disaster that aren’t needed, and sometimes actually get in the way of vital supplies.
  2. Edmonton Emergency Relief Services is collecting new shoes, towels, socks, underwear, diapers, baby wipes, and toiletries. Drop off items at: Hangar 2: 3631 – 56 Ave East, Edmonton International Airport.
  3. Edmonton’s Food Bank is collecting donations. Food can be dropped off at any major grocery store or fire hall.

VOLUNTEER

  1. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is inviting volunteers to sign up here.
  2. Edmonton Emergency Relief Services is looking for volunteers (must be 16 or older) at a number of locations throughout Edmonton. Volunteers are particularly needed at the airport, as that location is running 24-7. Follow their Facebook page: Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society, for the latest updates.
  3. Those interested in volunteering with the Red Cross can sign up here.

*Source: Macleans “Want to Help Fort McMurray? Here’s How.”Zane Schwartz http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/want-to-help-those-fleeing-fort-mcmurray-heres-how/

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Blind Eye

Last week was a busy travel week where I took four different flights. I was more concerned than I usually am. The terrible fate of Metrojet flight 9268 kept playing through my head. The plane left with tourists from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and crashed in the desert on its way to Russia. The investigations are still ongoing, but the incident seems likely to be caused by a bomb that was smuggled onto the plane inside a piece of luggage. French media reported on Friday that the sound of explosion could be heard on the airplane’s flight recorder, the evidence that a bomb was onboard. The investigation will now center on how this could have happened with security measures being in place at the Egyptian airport.

In all airports around the world, security was ramped up after 9/11 with the main change being the introduction of extensive cargo and luggage screening entering a plane. Since that time the requirements have become stricter and processes have been further improved. The devices being used to check our luggage have become more accurate and advanced. However there are some aspects that have made me realize that there are vulnerabilities that still exist such as international rules still being interpreted locally. The screening processes are different from country to country and sometimes from city to city. In some parts of the world, regulations are taken more seriously then in other countries. Another aspect is the dependency on the people performing the screening. As technology isn’t providing a 100% solution, we have to rely on the combination of an employee interacting with this technology. The cargo going through x-ray is being reviewed by a person watching a screen and the explosion detection is not consistent. The swipe they do on hands and laptop is used on a random basis, not covering all of the passengers. We have to rely on these security officers (paid a modest hourly rate), to follow the directions and regulations. Risk can be partially mitigated by making sure that the security officer is screened thoroughly prior to them hired. Background checks (criminal, credit and references) should be extensive. In addition, a psychological assessment and a social media search should be included.

In conclusion, investing in hiring processes will help reduce risk, along with assuring employees are treated and compensated well. Why not lessen the chance of someone turning a blind eye during an essential part of his or her job?

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