Be prepared

Local businesses need to periodically identify any risks that can impact their operation, prioritise the ones that are more likely to impact them, prepare a contingency plan and practice it to prefect its practical application, James Langton, an associate at local security company OMNIRISC Security (Macau) told Business Daily yesterday.
According to Mr. Langton, companies nowadays can be impacted from threats that can go from typhoons, loss of power or bomb threats to IT disruptions, loss of communication or even a social media public relations issue.
With the passage of Typhoon Hato on August 23 leading to financial losses of MOP11.47 billion – with Small and Medium Enterprises reporting losses of MOP3.63 billion – Mr. Langton recommends local industries be aware of the particular risks they face – investing in an underground energy generator, for example – and planning accordingly.
“It’s a matter of emergency management issues. If flooding is an issue then we have to have a plan to deal with it. Who’s going to deal with it? Who’s in charge? What actions are we going to take? What equipment do we have? Do we have small generators to pump water out? Can we place a water barrier?” he told Business Daily.
Mr. Langton therefore advised companies and organisations to perform security audits and risk assessments; perform security implementation management and create emergency preparedness training programmes tailored to their business characteristics.
The statements were made after a seminar organised yesterday by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC) on Risks, Emergencies and Crises Management.

Highly subjective

When it comes to individuals, Mr. Langton said that the notion of danger is subjective, with people tending to only have an adequate idea of dangerous situations they’ve experienced before.
Thus, it is the role of the government and the media to warn or remind people of potentially dangerous situations that can arise in situations such as a typhoon, like avoiding going to a building’s underground car park.
The majority of the 10 fatalities that occurred in Macau due to Typhoon Hato occurred after people attempted to remove their cars from car parks during the storm.
“I don’t think the people in the car parks were aware of a large flood in an underground space, they had never experienced it. […] It’s the government’s responsibility to explain that there is a risk,” he added.
The security expert considered that having experienced the effects of the typhoon, it could change some people’s behaviour but that the notion of danger diminishes as time passes, with local government and media having the responsibility to ensure that residents do not forget the risks.
“It’s like what happened with seat belts. When initially the procedure was for people to volunteer to wear a seatbelt, few people did. Governments had to legislate [non-wearing of seatbelts] as an offence and now we wear them and we don’t even think about it,” he concluded.