How the world is responding to the vehicle ramming threat
In 2016 there were 24,202 terrorist attacks across the world - an increase of 25% compared to 2015.
The Middle East faced the highest level of terror activity, with Iraq and Syria collectively experiencing 45% of the world's attacks. Over the past two years, the focus of many terror attacks has shifted towards Europe. Since the attack in Nice, where a lorry drove into crowds watching the Bastille Day fireworks, further vehicle ramming attacks have been carried out in Berlin, London and more recently in Barcelona.
Predicting and preventing these terror attacks remains a top priority for global security forces. The UK police force, for instance, saw a 70% rise in terror-related arrests in 2017. But with attacks now becoming more sporadic, knowing when and where the next one may occur is becoming extremely difficult.
Given that a future attack is always likely, what strategies are being implemented by global leaders to protect our cities and public spaces?
More armed officers
The jump in attacks across not just Europe but the world has prompted governments to strengthen security measures to protect public spaces and deter attackers. Following the attacks in in Manchester and London, greater police numbers were quickly deployed across the country. More armed response officers were visible at train stations, airports and other key public areas, which were feared could become the next target.
The UK's threat level was also raised to its highest level of 'critical', and 1,000 UK armed forces were called in to support the police, as further attacks were believed to be immenent. New legislative measures are now also being introduced by global leaders. In France, for instance, a counter-terrorism bill has recently been passed to allow authorities to shut down places of worship if preachers are suspected of spreading hatred.
French authorities have also been granted more powers to carry on-the-spot identity checks and expand border controls to international train stations, ports and airports. In the UK, new guidelines are being drawn up to impose stronger prison sentences on individuals either planning attacks helping others to plan attacks. Governments are trying to catch up with the fact that vehicles are becoming the new weapon of choice for terrorists.
The vehicular threat is driving soaring demand for Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) solutions and other physical security measures.
Italy is erecting heavy duty concrete barriers around landmarks in Milan, Rome and Turin, while the French government is constructing a barrier around the Eiffel Tower
Italy is erecting heavy duty concrete barriers around famous landmarks in Milan, Rome and Turin, while the French government is constructing a barrier around the Eiffel Tower.
The fight against terror is an ongoing battle affecting the entire world. As new types of attack emerge and evolve, security forces are constantly exploring innovative ways to protect our public places and way of life. Facial recognition technology is being installed on trains, trams and buses in Queensland, Australia in readiness for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The aim is to identify and apprehend terrorists before they reach event venues or popular public places to carry out their plot. The technology will scan the faces of passengers and cross-match them to police and security databases in real-time to detect possible suspects. Facial recognition technology is an increasingly popular method of enhancing security measures.
It is already in use at airports in Australia, as well as major US sporting events such as the Superbowl.
Surface-mounted HVM barriers
In response to the rising number of vehicle ramming attacks, developments in security barriers are also on the up as security innovators are rising to meet the challenge of keeping our cities safe. Innovative HVM barriers, which are capable of withstanding the direct impact of a vehicle crashing into them, whilst being completely surface mounted, are increasingly entering the market. Designed to be lightweight and compact, many HVM barriers come in modular parts so they can be transferred, deployed and removed quickly and easily.
Once in place, the barriers allow both pedestrians and cyclists to pass through, making them less instrusive than some traditional barriers. While many governments have reacted quickly to the rising number of terror attacks, security measures have not yet been deployed in some crucial areas - possibly in part due to operational restrictions or a lack of funding. If the war on terror is to be won, it requires a global effort to end the fight once and for all.
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