Dharmarajan G a senior citizen based in Mumbai however begs to differ from Nagesh. As a freelance HR advisor and consultant, Mr Dharmarajan G attends meetings in hotels in Mumbai and he feels that hotels are taking actions post 26/11 by installing CCTVs and manual frisking. He says, “The hotels install CCTV devices as a deterrent to malicious attacks by anti-social elements. Unfortunately, the culprits seem to know that the hotels do not maintain the systems well.” He solely blames the 24x7 television channels for trivialising and sensationalising delicate intelligence issues during 26/11 when the terrorists were holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel. Such minute by minute account only served to feed the terrorists and their associates with information about the actions taken by the police.”If the television channels had exercised some restraint then more lives could have been saved”, he says.
Ramesh Ved, a chartered accountant in Mumbai says that since 2001 when the twin towers were attacked, there has been no such incident in US. But in India, such incidents have become regular affairs. Take for instance — in the 26/11 incident, the Taj Mahal Hotel was like a maze for the police force but for the terrorists? How did they get in? Is this possible without internal support? There is more to this than just a security lapse. The entry points and exit points in Taj are one too many. Stewards, cooks, drivers — who will check the integrity of these people?
Terrorists involved in the Taj Mahal Hotel attack seemed to have done a thorough recce. They worked with such clockwork precision that they would have put the best project planners to shame. Is this possible without the involvement of insiders? Hotel’s ties with external security forces (outsourced) need to be checked.
Thus, the hotels need to engage special staff for CCTV monitoring if they have not done so already. The hospitality industry also shies away from stringent measures as they feel that it can be a cause of discomfort to their guests. But is this fair?
Terrorism risk has raced past traditional theft and fire risks in the hospitality sector.
The Government of India needs to establish a think tank to come up with certain minimum standards that need to be fulfilled by the hospitality sector to upgrade their security systems. A strong regulation is a must to improve matters.
The terrorism pool that GIC Re paid was Rs. 400 crores; the cost of security surveillance is not even a fraction of that. The Government needs to do a serious rethink. The hospitality sector should be given some sort of tax exemptions for using technology to improve security surveillance. This is very important to drive growth in the business.
Home Ministry needs to issue standards for commercial buildings including hotels. The Government needs to appoint a state level independent monitoring agency to check compliance. The hospitality sector needs to focus on integrated security systems. Technological solutions must be easy to implement — organisations in security space are well advised to remember this. On the flip side, system integrators provide solutions from different manufacturers — they find it difficult to integrate various systems. But this can be corrected.
As of now, the balance between human intervention and electronic surveillance is more tilted towards the latter. This should change. A vigilant staff is a great source of strength for the hospitality sector. The hotels need to upgrade their systems and set aside a separate budget for safety and security measures.
The day is not far when luxury hotels or high-end hotels that do not value safety or security will lose their market share. Hospitality sector has to give higher precedence for safety and security than worrying about discomfort to guests. Some more urgent actions that are needed are
- Depute high tech security personnel in every sensitive area of the hotel
- Inspect vendors
- Inspect trucks, vans, parking lots
- Train all employees
- Relook at the outsourced model of physical security as this can present risk. An in-house security officer can also be employed
- Effective use of technology to minimise discomfort to guests
- Manual frisking — bodyguards of VIPs also should be subject to this
- Entry and exit points need to have electronic security surveillance
- Video analytics to be used for common areas of hotels
- Swift detection of any untoward or suspicious movement must be made easy
- Finger print readers for high level guests
- Corridors, floors, parking, lobby areas, multiple exits, stair cases, escalators, server rooms, food storage areas, kitchen, laundry — these areas too need CCTV surveillance
- Address proofs — passport, pan card, aadhar card and other forms of identification must.
- Restricted access to pools and restaurants
The 3 elements of security namely — Detection, Deterrence and Delay deserve a heightened sense of importance. Absence of Safety and security vigilance can lead to loss of reputation for the hospitality sector.
Innovative technologies The good news is that innovative technologies are now available to strengthen security surveillance.
- Surveillance cameras
- Biometric systems
- Hi-sec doors
- Secure airlock
- Full body scanners
- Baggage scan
- Metal detectors
- Access control
- Video surveillance
- Intrusion detection
- Xray machines
It is high time hospitality industry in India starts making judicious use of these products and technologies.
Some of the hotels try to cut corners by installing lesser number of cameras than what is required. Much less attention is paid towards minor details like position of the cameras, the capturing and storage of images, training, retrieval of images, capturing moving objects with excellent precision and installing cameras in common areas like lobbies, reception etc
About the Author
Kalakad V Ganapathy — The writer is a freelancer based in Bangalore. He has worked on projects centred on Safety, Quality, 5S, Business Process Reengineering, Integrity Management, Technology Trends etc. and worked on “Rerefined oil technology strategy,” has delivered lectures in management colleges like S P Jain Global (Singapore), Somaiya Institute of Management Studies, ITM-Mumbai, Mumbai Institute of Management, Insurance Institute of India where he has taught subjects like Risk Management, Insurance, Project Management, Supply Chain Management and Technology Management.
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