22 October 2017


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What Lessons Can We Learn From Mumbai?

01 December 2008  |  2584 views  |  0

It appears that there was a lack of co-ordination between and within police, army and anti-terrorist forces, with none of the NSG located in Mumbai. The fact that they needed to be flown in suggests a total lack of preparedness.

There needs to be better co-ordination and placement of forces, along with integration of police and army. In this modern world, it should have only taken a few seconds for the anti-terrorist forces to be notified and marshaled. If some were to be flown from another city, as reserves one would hope, the first and fastest available commercial, private or government aircraft should have been commandeered. Better communication and organisation would have seen the way cleared for the anti-terrorist commando's by police and public officials everywhere. That could mean all roads, airports and vehicles and even citizens put under the control of the authorities in a co-ordinated process.

India has a high level of mobile usage and this presents an opportunity to revolutionise the way such forces are marshaled and directed. Every single person required to know could have been notified in the first few seconds of the attack. The public could have been seconded to provide real-time intelligence to the authorities. The police could have better contained the attackers in the first minute or two.

Most countries are still operating at horse and cart speed whilst their attackers move like jets. Until governments understand that the complexity of detecting and responding to terrorist attacks is reduced to simple actions and responses when the 21st century technology at our fingertips is better integrated into the process, rather than merely as entertainment, we will suffer unnecessarily severe damage from terrorist attacks.

Mobile technology presents a brilliant opportunity to prevent, detect and respond to any disaster, natural or man-made, and also to prove identity, which may be essential in anti-terrorist operations and in order to establish trust to gain instant co-operation in emergencies.

With terrorists/insurgents using mobile telephones to set off bombs it is clear that we need some control over who has a mobile phone or, at the very least, know who owns a particular mobile. That in itself, will not prevent terrorists from using them, but additional steps could significantly reduce the opportunity for terrorists or criminals to make use of stolen mobile phones. A co-ordinated approach to mobile technology might see better detection and prevention along with vastly more effective responses.

A properly conceived approach to security which includes incident reporting, police notification and marshaling built on a foundation of mobile identity and preparedness, using the mobile phone is the only possible way that governments are going to have any chance of making us safer. An integrated mobile approach would have put the anti-terrorist forces in communication with the victims trapped inside the hotels, a vital source of intelligence denied, through a lack of foresight. An integrated mobile identity approach would have given authorities a very accurate picture of the situation in real time. It is almost inconceivable that governments are ignoring the options available.

Other cities should take heed of Mumbai, it could happen anywhere. anytime and although some cities might like to think they are prepared, they are not well enough prepared . It will take an international co-ordinated approach to put in place the systems which will give governments the means to minimise these challenges to the security and safety of our societies.

What is to stop it happening again in Mumbai, next week or next month? If the Indian authorities are concerned with Twitter and such like, perhaps they should propel themselves into the 21st century and take a step ahead of the opposition, rather than remain on the back foot forever. Put in place the social systems which enable the private citizen and police official alike to participate in assisting the government to make us safer rather than telling them to stay in the stone age with you. Tactics will always evolve however the right mobile approach will significantly lessen the opportunities for future terrorist attacks.

Notification should happen in under 9 seconds and response times for such incidents should be under 9 minutes, not 9 hours and the mobile is the only way to make it so. Embrace it, because it can solve a lot of other problems facing governments as their revenue diminishes and the demand for government services increases. A mobile solution could be deployed and operational in months, rather than years, because most of the infrastructure is in place already.

Mumbai is not alone in this. They have paid the price for the lesson we all need to learn, its time to get serious about the global effort to make this very small world safer. It is up to all of us to demand better from our governments.

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