The FINANCIAL--The ability of citizens and businesses to go about their daily lives with a sense of safety and security is vital to prosperity, but citizens in many countries feel unsafe¹. Whether it’s because of inadequate responses to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, massive data breaches or the spread of disinformation, trust in governments’ ability to protect society is declining.
To address this requires a new, systemic approach to security that broadens its definition beyond defence and policing. Governments, local authorities and the private sector need to work closely together across all areas that contribute to security. PwC identifies four overlapping domains - physical, economic, digital and social -- underpinned by trust, that form the foundation of a secure and prosperous society.
That’s the conclusion of PwC’s new report, “Achieving safety and security in an age of disruption and distrust.” It challenges the traditionally narrow view of physical safety and security, expanding the concept of what security means to include citizens’ basic needs; including food, water and utilities; and the organisations that deliver them.
The report draws on academic research* and case studies to show the necessity and benefits of a collaborative approach to security. It identifies the different elements that cause citizens and businesses to feel unsafe and the players, from private sector communications firms and infrastructure companies to security forces and non-governmental organisations, who need to work together to deliver security in all the domains.
“Unless you create a safe and secure environment in which people can go about their daily lives without fear, they won’t be able to work and sustain their families or carve out a decent standard of living. The breadth of the challenge of delivering security has never been greater, requiring agility in response and innovation in prevention. And while security is a core task of governments, it can’t be achieved in isolation. It needs to be viewed holistically, with governments taking the lead in facilitating collaboration across organisations, sectors and territorial divides to deliver the security that is vital to a functioning society.” - Tony Peake, PwC Global Leader, Government and Public Services, says.
The building blocks of security: physical, digital, social and economic
The report explains how these domains overlap and impact each other, adding to the complexity of delivering security. For example, economic security is closely tied to cyber security and thwarting data theft. Critical infrastructure services like telecommunications, power and transportation systems that rely on technology to operate must be secured both physically and digitally. Border control systems such as passport readers and iris scanning machines rely on digital interfaces that require cyber security.
“It has become increasingly clear that delivering the safety and security that citizens and businesses need to prosper requires ever closer collaborations across borders, sectors and institutions. I learned that (re)building a failed state means realising that everything in a nation is interlinked and that it is all about the hearts and minds of the people. If you want the people to have trust in their society and faith in their future, safety and security in the broadest terms are the prerequisite.” - summerises Peter van Uhm, former Chief of Defence of the Armed Forces of the Netherlands.
How governments can safeguard and protect citizens
PwC has identified six key actions that government leaders can take to develop a collaborative, systemic approach to delivering safety and security to their citizens:
1) Take stock: look at the interplay of the different physical, digital, economic and social domains and spot any weak links across sectors.
2) Identify and engage the right stakeholders and collaborate to develop a joint agenda and a national and/or local safety and security policy.
3) Identify what each stakeholder needs to provide in the process and assess their level of interconnectedness to deliver safety and security, e.g. back-up systems for telecommunications failures.
4) Work with leadership in the different overlapping domains and empower people in the right places to make decisions.
5) Invest in leaders so that they are skilled in engaging the public and instilling a sense of trust.
6) Manage carefully the trade-off of security with safeguarding personal data and citizens’ rights.
The recommendations for private sector firms and non-profit organisations include these steps:
1) Work more closely with trusted governments to improve engagement and collaboration.
2) Align organisational purpose with the broader societal safety and security agenda.
3) Develop the capacity and capability to improve safety and security for stakeholders.