Amidst a sea of online conference options during the pandemic, ISC East kept things short and sweet at its virtual offering today, Nov. 18. 

The event kicked off at 11:30 a.m. ET with the 30th Annual ASIS NYC Person of the Year Celebration. 

“Choosing one person for this 2020 event was a difficult task, considering the pandemic,” said Donald Francisco, chair of ASIS’ NYC chapter, to the 500+ attendees. “So, we decided to honor two worthy individuals.”

Dermot Shea, police commissioner of the City of New York, received the Person of the Year Award, and Anthony Fauci, perhaps the most-talked about man of 2020, was recognized as the first Healthcare Person of the Year.

“I am humbled and deeply grateful to be recognized,” Fauci said. “As we continue to contend with the pandemic, thank you for your courage, your resilience, your adaptability and your extraordinary service as security and public health professionals.”

Shea was recognized for his work as the 44th police commissioner of New York City, where he has gained experience in both the patrol and investigative sides of his department. 

“These are truly challenging times, so I am humbly accepting this honor today on behalf of all of the people in the NYPD who have been out on the streets working to keep people safe,” Shea said. “Between March 26 and June 25 of this year, we lost 46 members of the NYPD to COVID-19, and there are currently 163 members out sick with COVID-19 . . . No one should ever forget that police officers are people with families too, and they, like you, worry. They do it because it’s more important than a job — it’s a vocation, it’s a call. We have about 54,000 of the most highly skilled, dedicated law enforcement professionals in the world.”

Jack Hanagriff, infrastructure protection coordinator at the City of Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, received SIA’s Insightful Practitioner Award.

“This year’s recipient of the SIA Insightful Practitioner Award has more than four decades of experience,” said SIA’s Ron Hawkins. “He is a very active member of the SIA Public Safety Interest Group, and he has launched a program that brings together security providers and practitioners. I have always been impressed with his knowledge and dedication to partnerships.”

After a brief break, the show resumed with its first educational session, “Business Continuity in the ‘New Normal’: Processes and Technology During and After the Pandemic.” Moderator Steve Sacchetti of SIA started the discussion with two poll questions for attendees: what sector they worked in, and what percentage of their workforce currently occupies their place of business. The answers to the first question were all over the board, while attendees were more in agreement in the second question. Forty-four percent said that less than 10 percent of employees were in the office; 16 percent said that 10-25 percent were; 13 percent said 25-50 percent; 11 percent said 50-75 percent; and 16 percent said that more than 75 percent of employees were in-office.

“In different parts of the world, we are in different parts of the pandemic,” said Craig Schwab, director and co-head of corporate security operations, BlackRock. “Global firms have different stories that have developed now across the world. It’s complex.”

Another poll question asked attendees what processes are predominantly in place at their workplaces to assist in returning to work. Fifty-one percent said they are using health questionnaires administered via technology; 22 percent are using paper questionnaires; 44 percent are using handheld temperature screening; 21 percent are using mounted temperature screening; and 10 percent said their workplace is using none of these methods.

“It is our top priority that employees are safe and comfortable before they return to any of our offices,” Schwab said. “There is no one control that will prevent the spread of the virus, so we’ve taken a very layered approach to the office controls we have, starting with handbooks and guidelines on what employees can expect when coming back to the office. Then they have to take mandatory training on what controls are in place. We have also reorganized all of the seating, we have split operations going on still at this point. We’re using self-serving kiosks, putting handheld thermometers at reception desks, asking all employees to do a wellness check before coming in — it’s testing, testing, testing.”

The final poll question asked which precautions attendees anticipated remaining for the long term — 78 percent expect employees to continue working from home; 23 percent expect the continued use of temperature screening; 30 percent expect health questionnaires; 56 percent expect masks in common areas; and 69 percent expect hand sanitizing stations to stick around.

“Because of the pandemic, you want to touch as few things in the office as possible, so we’ve seen a lot of requests for automatic door openings in buildings,” said Stephen Govel, president of Service Works Inc. 

Service Works Inc. Project Manager Steve Bassett added, “Early on we deployed [new pandemic-related technologies] in a temporary environment, and very quickly our clients asked us to make them permanent.”

The second educational session, “Preparing for a New Era of Civil Unrest: Behavioral Factors in Civil Unrest & Collective Violence,” was led by Steve Crimando, principal at Behavioral Science Applications and Director of Training at the New Jersey Division of Mental Health’s Disaster and Terrorism Branch. 

“We are seeing a radical increase in the number of events of civil unrest because of three factors: a growing population, communication being easier with mobile phones and a greater perceived gap in social inequality,” Crimando said, adding that worldwide, incidents have doubled over the last decade. 

Crimando explained different factors leading to violence in crowds, and how security leaders can assist in reducing violence. 

“Crowds are a target-rich environment that is prone to terrorism,” Crimando said. 

His top eight recommendations for security organizations dealing with civil unrest are: including strategies to predict, prevent and respond to collective violence in overall violence prevention efforts; coordinating with law enforcement and emergency management agencies in planning and exercising around collective actions; sharing intelligence between law enforcement and private sector partners about collective actions; providing information and training for the workforce about personal safety during civil unrest; preparing the workforce to recognize and respond to collective violence as you would to other forms of workplace violence; coordinating with communications departments about monitoring and sharing information with stakeholders about your organization’s response; addressing issues of sympathizing employees sharing the organization’s information with protestors; and sharing information and best practices with trade and industry groups. 

After these educational sessions, attendees could also watch vendor solution sessions from Axis Communications, Genetec, Allegion, NAPCO, FLIR and more. 

Sessions are available on-demand for those who were unable to make it to the live event. ISC East 2021 is scheduled to take place at the Javits Center in New York City Nov. 17-18.