Last week, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the director general of MI5 spoke of the 'enduring threat' of terrorism. He revealed that the UK had uncovered and prevented 12 terror plots in the past three years and that attacks were at the highest rate he had seen in his 33-year service with the British Security Service.
His comments are a clear reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to fighting terrorism - we need to put much more stringent measures in place to prevent the threat of attack. On this note, it was encouraging to hear that the British Government is considering a super-unit of armed police to guard Britain from terrorists. The new, highly-mobile unit would be used to protect the country's infrastructure, including power stations, airports, railways and ports, while also responding to attacks by armed gunmen - a necessary measure following the devastating atrocities in Paris last year.
While this is a positive step forward, there is still much more to be done if we want to win the fight against terrorism. Corporations and businesses, in partnership with governments, have a responsibility to fortify other public spaces - hotels, stadiums and concert halls, for example - just as securely to help prevent attacks. Sports stadiums in Denver and San Francisco in the United States have already started using technology systems that use fingerprints to screen fans as they enter. The National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo will deploy advanced facial recognition technology in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The UK, like every country presenting major risks, needs to follow suit by developing similar systems across all of its major public venues.
Citizens must join this fight by supporting greater investments in public safety and security just as we do with other vital services like education, healthcare, and roads and bridges. We must learn to accept an increased security presence in our day-to-day lives, even if it means dealing with more metal detectors, security guards, checkpoints and barricades as part of our daily routines.
Technology companies can also help governments improve security by lending their specialised expertise to the effort. They are uniquely positioned to help halt the spread of terrorist ideology through technological means - from making it harder for terrorists to use the Internet to recruit, mobilise, and conduct operations to collaborating on the research and development of new technologies that can better intercept communications, identify potential terrorist threats, and more.
Finally, we must build a coalition of allies that includes active leadership from the Arab world. Arab leaders from Morocco to the Gulf States must condemn terrorist attacks with a stronger, louder and more public voice. Look to the leadership of King Abdullah II of Jordan, who has called the battle against ISIS "a fight between good and evil" that requires military, intelligence and moral force.
This is not a temporary or passing crisis. If we do not make sweeping changes now, we will see larger and more barbaric atrocities committed against innocent civilians, an exodus of business, investments and talent from countries that are deemed unsafe and more citizens turning to reactionary and isolationist movements that foment fear.
Rather than operating in silos, it is time to join forces at a U.N-like "security summit" that can focus on strengthening security in six critical areas: public venues, transportation, cultural and educational institutions, workplaces, border control and data and technology. By leveraging our combined military, intelligence, technology and economic power, we can better protect our citizens and prevent terrorism from happening in the first place.
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