We may or may not experience another pandemic in our lifetimes. Indeed, we may not have even seen the worst, or the last, of Covid-19 (it pains me to write). But surely there are ways in which we can better prepare ourselves for what may be further down the road – apart from shutting down society and the economy?
In this article, Chris Windley (CEO, Cyber Security Valley and Ambassador for CuGrip UK and Ireland) gives his thoughts on how we can reduce risk and prevent a future of perpetual lockdowns.
Covid is just a practice for the real thing. The real thing is a really really nasty virus deployed accidentally or as part of an attack on our nation with the potential to kill many many more people than Covid 19. We were warned some time ago that a Pandemic was coming (by Bill Gates for one) and in fact we get one on average about every 100 years.
We have to “Build Back Better”. We have to be more resilient to Bacteria and Viruses. Not just Covid but all viruses and bugs that cause loss of life and lost work days and economic loss.
We have to make spaces and places safer and able to withstand another global Pandemic – because it surely will come. This is not just about Covid it is about all viruses and bacteria that are not having a positive effect (because some do). We know how to do this and we have known for a very long time. Part of the solution is leadership and the willingness to do what has to be done – the understanding that we need to change and that everything has changed.
You could look at it in a way that says that we – the Midlands – want to survive a Pandemic the best. We want to keep working and travelling when others cannot. We will be working because we have built the safest places and spaces in the country.
We have to identify and focus on the places most likely to lead to the greatest transmission of germs and viruses.
Mass Transit ( Trains, Buses, Planes etc ) – reduced use
Hospitals – increased use
Schools – reduced use
Offices – reduced use
Petrol Stations – no change
Supermarkets – increased use
Pubs/Hotels/Restaurants/Bars – reduced use
(NB Obviously in a Lockdown some of these are not used and some are used more. Clearly in normal times Mass Transit, for example, is packed with people)
Then we have to reduce the risk first in all of those places. Viruses are transmitted by touch and via the air ( there is debate over which is the worst and it depends). We can certainly reduce the risk of transmission by identifying High Touch points and also by understanding air flows. In the Cyber Security world, we say that it is not just about Technology but also about People ( Training ) and Processes along with great Leadership. Equally if we look at eg laboratories and eg Military assets – Ships, Tanks, Buildings etc we see that it is about organisation (establishing a leader, a responsible person and specialist teams), training, processes and procedures as well.
My research combined with my harking back to my Navy days as a Weapons Engineer Officer – with responsibilities for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare – has led me to understand that there are what are called Primary Protocols eg (Wash) Hands, Face (Masks) and Space (social distancing and isolation).
There are also Secondary Protocols like CopperTouch ( placing copper on most touched places ), ZeroTouch or Contactless Technology ( eg voice activated lifts ), AirFiltration Systems, UVSanitisation systems and organised Team Cleaning. The correct implementation and combination of these will reduce the RISK down to a very low percentage. It is ALL about risk- for insurance companies, lawyers and HR people and arguably for people to gain confidence to go back to working in the office and travelling on Mass Transit. (Yes I know that we actually don’t understand relative risks eg how risky flying is versus driving on the road or the likelihood of dying by shark attack)
Health and Safety Executive standards (against which spot checks are now being made) are all well and good but we should be thinking about much higher standards. We should be aiming higher based on available science and testing. We don’t just want to do the bare minimum – we want to do what has the greatest effect. These standards are not enough in term of touch or Air Filtration (especially HVAC systems).
All of the Secondary Protocols are important but let’s focus in on ” CopperTouch “. When we do let us remember the Midlands heritage in this area. Copper was mined in Cornwall, Smelted in Swansea but rolled and shaped in the Midlands and it powered the Industrial Revolution and steam engines in particular. Even now the old Copper companies are still here but perhaps now owned by French, German or American companies. Wolverhampton University is powering new innovations in copper production. Recent Mass Transit tests in Vancouver, Canada showed that copper kills 99.9% of bacteria within 1 hour. This is great news but I couldn’t help but look at the copper coloured Trains and Buses and think – Safety ! Confidence ! Reduced Risk ! Leadership.
There have been many tests showing that copper in high touch places in hospitals reduces Hospital Acquired Infections ( HAI’s ) by around 60%. This would save something like 50% of a $45 Billion Annual cost in the USA not even taking into account the suffering of people that catch HAI’s and the loss of life. Such tests have even been done in Birmingham (Selly Oak) in the 2000’s. 100’s of hospitals have implemented High Touch Copper. Many have not and that is mainly because of the cost of retro-fitting at the time. Back then they were looking at either solid/hollow fittings or copper plate. Technology has advanced rapidly in this area in the last 10 years. Also it is now understood that there is a much more powerful RoI case.
If we can show that a particular place or space has such high safety standards that the risk is very low then those places do not need to be in the lockdown and also insurers will insure them against virus risks and lawyers and HR people will be able to approve use.
National or Area lockdowns are very broad brush policies that really upset people – I understand why and sympathise – what we need is a more granular, scientific approach to locking down. They make the case, for example and I could support them, that Wetherspoons pubs are very safe. Some most certainly are – from a Covid risk perspective. Increased and on site testing is of course all part of the process. Some people see all these things as onerous and unnecessary – I see them as sensible, vital for the insurance, legal and HR worlds, part of a very changed world and way of working and a competitive advantage with respect to other countries and cities.
Personally I am more in favour of remaining working from home and from the so called ‘Third Office’ in a local business, technology or cyber park. This is because it is actually better for the person, the business and the planet. But if we do want to get people back to working in City offices and back to spending their money in hospitality, then this is the way to do it.
About Chris Windley:
“Midlands based, Chris Windley is Half English and Half Welsh and All British. He says he was Made Twice in the #RoyalNavy once as a Rating and once as an Officer. He has a global outlook having worked internationally with many different companies. He is the Founder of many companies including, recently, Cyber Security Valley UK and is passionate about the West Midlands and our #CyberSecurity and #Intelligence Brands. Christopher was named after Turing’s Bombe. He speaks his mind and is a celebrity – well according to the Daily Mail! In the last year, he has been applying his military, nuclear, biological and chemical warfare knowledge and technology to the Pandemic.
Chris has started, built and exited many Tech. companies and is an Angel investor and Business Advisor. He is over the 30K connections limit on Linkedin. He is a H.N.W.I. networker and a Birmingham Midlands Lunartick (Member of The Lunar Society). He is a top Global Digital Sales Expert. founders4schools S.T.E.M. Speaker and his companies have been in Richard Branson’s FastTrack 100 3 Times. He is an author and global influencer; a Cloud Cyber Security, Optical Fibre Networks and Media specialist. Chris is a Startup and Communications wizard and LinkedIn Open Networker.”
Connect with Chris via:
Twitter and Instagram – @cwindley
Pinterest and Facebook – chriswindley