Leaderware - emphasising the human factor in security

May 2002 News

Although its start in the security industry had a focus on selection, Leaderware has expanded its contribution to cover the broad impact of human factors that impact on a number of security areas.

Leaderware's initial focus when it started combined management consulting on human resource issues with software development for assessment and selection. In line with this, products were aimed at the psychology and human resources market.

However, from an initial management consulting project for De Beers Group Security on departmental structuring and technology change management, the importance of the human factors in CCTV and other security areas were bought into focus. This led to the development of the surveillance and monitoring assessment exercise (SAMAE) for the selection of CCTV operators. The development of SAMAE took Leaderware firmly into the security industry, which has remained its core business ever since.

Much of the company's success has been accomplished thorough strong partnership with clients and at times co-development of solutions to unique problems. For instance, the focus on CCTV surveillance operators moved rapidly from the diamond mines and casinos to other major industry sectors where protection of product was important. Given the rapid rise in the sophistication of security and enhancement of security technology, Leaderware was well positioned to both contribute and learn from such development.

At present, Leaderware addresses the human factors area through from the ergonomics of the control room, the structuring of departments and positions, work process design, selection of personnel, and surveillance training. The experience in management consulting also provides a basis for involvement in security management and leadership projects within companies.

Effective yet affordable

Leaderware's thrust with SAMAE was to make something highly effective but affordable in line with security industry requirements for personnel selection and establish an industry default standard for the selection of CCTV operators. The skill base and background in psychology also allowed Leaderware to develop a totally new product in the training area. With the emphasis on getting the right people, there was a focus on encouraging these people to look at the right things. While suppliers and installers provide training in how to use the CCTV technology they sell, getting effective surveillance from these is another matter.

The CCTV Surveillance Skills course was a result of the perceived shortfalls in the industry and incorporates a strong focus on incident dynamics and body language. The product provided a milestone in CCTV training with no comparable product worldwide. This has led to training in the UK and Canada (just south of the Artic Circle) as well as comprehensive coverage of some of the most prominent security sites in South Africa and Botswana. The client base covers organisations from diverse industries and includes companies such as De Beers, Sun International, Toyota, Goldfields, Bank of Botswana, Debswana and Liberty Life in South Africa alone.

Worldwide interest

Early interest from the UK Police Scientific and Development Branch (PSDB) in the SAMAE product being shown at Securex 2001 in Johannesburg made the company realise they had a product with a worldwide competitive edge. This saw the beginning of an early overseas focus in marketing and sales in the security industry including standards at Securex in London. A strategic alliance with Tavcom Training, one of the foremost and respected training organisations in the UK also resulted from this initial contact. This also opened up the opportunity for Leaderware's surveillance training to be provided in the UK, with almost the entire Sussex Police CCTV team including manager and supervisors going through the training. Other training clients covered in the UK included town centres, universities, hospitals and parking companies.

SAMAE or Observer is now used in 10 city and town centres in the UK for the selection of CCTV staff, as well as Sussex Police. UK centres include the Borough of Windsor with the responsibility for Windsor Castle, and prominent locations such as Birmingham. Other overseas clients include casinos in Australia and diamond mines in Canada as well as a mixture of other clients in the UK ranging from hospitals to airports.

A feature of Leaderware's approach has been the research accompanying the implementation of the selection instruments. While managers are prepared to give some amazing testimonials, particularly in the casino industry where people are so exacting about operator performance, there is no substitute for scientific research. For CCTV operators, the validation information is as comprehensive and scientific as one would find in studies anywhere in the world. Besides actual research, Leaderware has pushed the recognition of South African security developments internationally, particularly in the human factors area. As part of this, the company's Dr Craig Donald has presented South African progress and achievements in articles in some of the foremost international magazines including CCTV Today, International Security Review, International Journal of Security and Intersec as well as presenting papers at occasions such as the CCTV user group conference and the UK Institute of Electrical Engineering conference on People in Control.

Dr Craig Donald, Mathews Malele and Jan Boeyens
Dr Craig Donald, Mathews Malele and Jan Boeyens

X-ray screenimg

More recently Leaderware's continued international focus has led to the spectacular success of a new product, ScanX, for the X-ray screening environment. In a research project commissioned by the UK Government's Department of Transport, Local Government and Regions (DTLR) some months before the September 11 incident, ScanX was one of 25 international tests reviewed for their potential in selecting X-ray screeners. More recent developments have seen negotiations with the FAA over the use of ScanX for the federal program of hiring X-ray screeners for US airports.

The fact that security is a continually evolving area creates a strong need to work closely with security end users, installers, technology supplies and government and private research institutions. Despite much progress on looking at the human factors, there are still many operations both in SA and abroad that ignore or neglect these issues, thinking that the technology by itself will solve the problem. Leaderware has worked closely with key industry players and has some strategic relationships with managers to provide an independent industry perspective - something that it protects keenly. Keeping an unbiased and independent position is sometimes a delicate process in an industry characterised by strong alliances and fierce competition, but both the clients and service providers have recognised and respect the need for this.

Despite Leaderware's small size, few if any companies worldwide have the same unique mix of expertise in human resource and security issues and dynamics. It makes it possible to speak authoritatively to human resource people from a security perspective, and to recognise and deal with the human factor issues within security operations with a real understanding of the industry.

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