Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What's In Your Toolbox?

What's in your toolbox? And by that I mean what resources and experience do you call on when you need to make safety and security decisions.

A fair number of people attend a RedR or internal organization training or two, and think the content presented is the be-all, end-all in NGO security. This is far from the case. While these trainings present an excellent foundation and common working platform for dealing with humanitarian-related safety and security issues, to really be a top-notch NGO security practitioner you need to think outside the NGO box. That means reading and learning about safety and security topics from a variety of fields that might not be NGO-specific; content that often isn't covered in standard humanitarian trainings.

Here are a few examples:

ASIS International (a trade organization devoted to the security profession) offers Security Management Weekly, a great email newsletter on corporate security issues. You can sign up for it free, here.

Blackwater (the largest US private military company) has a weekly newsletter devoted to law enforcement, military and paramilitary security issues. If you want to better understand the mindset of PMCs and learn a bit about how they operate, the archive of newsletters is very educational.

From personal experience, computer and information security can often be very weak in field offices (as well as some headquarters). Don't know very much about this subject? Try SecurityFocus.com, a first-rate Web site devoted to information security news and topics.

How about driver training in insecure environments? Tony Scotti is an internationally recognized security-driving instructor. His SecurityDriver.com Web site offers a number of excellent articles on the topic.

Need to do an assessment in a country and are wondering about past natural disasters? Check out EM-DAT, a joint effort between OFDA and CRED to catalog and collect information about natural and human caused disasters throughout the world.

The list goes on and on. My point is there are a large number of resources out there to help you became a more effective, knowledgeable and professional security practitioner - many of them freely and readily accessible on the Internet.

Don't limit yourself to traditional NGO security training and resources. Increase your breadth and depth of knowledge. Think outside the box. Doing so will benefit your organization, its staff and ultimately its beneficiaries.


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