Singapore Sports Hub: ISC Group manages security at the iconic site
Integrated Security Consultants Ltd (ISC Group) has revealed some of the insights it has gained into operating in the Singapore security market, following its first year of involvement in the state-of-the-art Singapore Sports Hub.
ISC Singapore Senior Director, Roger Hooker, spoke on ‘Safety and Security considerations in sport venues’ at the Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific Conference on 25 September 2014, sharing some of the company’s perspectives on the Singaporean security market.
He spoke alongside Greg Gillin of consortium partner DTZ, Senior Director of Stadia at the Singapore Sports Hub.
“There was some interesting debate around the link between a venue’s early design concepts and how this will translate into the operation,” explained Hooker. “And also on how security considerations should be at the heart of a design, with designers and the operator working together at the start.”
ISC Group decided to launch into Asia in 2013, as a result of an opportunity to work with DTZ Facilities and Engineering (S) Limited, which has overall health and safety responsibility at the Singapore Sports Hub.
The futuristic-looking SGD $1.33bn (£650m GBP, $US1.06bn) facility, which opened earlier this year, includes a 55,000-seat national stadium, OCBC Arena for indoor sports, OCBC Aquatic Centre, Water Sports Centre, sports library and museum, visitor centre, retail mall and community facilities.
Hooker, whose previous experience includes roles at Wembley and the Olympic Games, explained: “The opportunity came about from ISC’s long association with Wembley National Stadium Limited, recognising our expertise of supporting operations at an iconic national stadium and knowledge and experience in venue security operations, event crowd safety, international consultancy, training, and workforce operations; from recruitment to deployment. We wanted to take up this challenge and explore opportunities in Asia and so created a Singaporean subsidiary – ISC Singapore.”
The team has had many challenges to overcome. “There are lessons to be shared when you step off a plane and set up to trade overseas – and particular lessons to be learnt in Asia,” Hooker said. “As ISC’s first international business unit, this was a leap of faith. We were very aware that demand for part-time labour in Singapore far outstrips the supply, and that the security workforce is transient and very dollar sensitive. The brief from DTZ was to assist in building a locally sourced security team – and in the same timeframe and against the already highly competitive labour market, the Sports Hub itself was also recruiting for thousands of frontline staff – including cleaning, catering, security, ushers and crowd safety personnel, to name just a few functions.”
“On arrival, we really started to understand the statutory legal framework DTZ has to adhere to,” he continued. “Within weeks, on behalf of our client providing services to the Sports Hub, we had to establish some introductions, for example with the Workforce Development Agency (a government body with objectives to ensure the population is kept in employment and trained), with approved training providers and key regulatory bodies such as the Singaporean Police Force Licensing Regulatory Division.”
The team has gained enormously from the experience of working in Singapore, but there has also been some key experience and knowledge that they have been able to bring from the UK. Hooker said: “For example, while the risk of potential crowd disorder is perceived to be lower in Singapore compared to other locations, it still requires specialist training. The big message we brought with us was, respectfully, in our view, ‘crowd management isn’t security’. And that’s a relatively new theme here. Securing the integrity of a site requires different skill sets to managing tens of thousands of eager and excited spectators to a new multi venue location, all arriving and departing on public transport. In that sense, it’s like the London 2012 Olympic Park. At present, both are licensable activities, and the same core training modules allow you to do both.”
The experience of operating in a new market has inevitably required research, adaption of existing policies and procedures and patience. “We’ve learnt that Singapore is understandably a proud nation, and so it’s about working within the existing frameworks to make an impact – not slamming a ‘West knows best’ approach into the market.”
ISC Singapore is now focusing on a number of strategic aims including building its team in Singapore, becoming a licensed security and crowd management provider, developing specialist training courses and recruitment processes, and bringing the Group’s respected consultancy capability, which is already engaged on projects worldwide, such as in Saudi, Russia, Mexico and Qatar, as well as throughout the UK.
The company will be building a full time security workforce of its own from late 2014 and this will extend to part-time crowd safety officer roles in 2015. The company is also exploring other opportunities across this international hub city, which hosts events such as Formula 1, Air shows and regular racedays at the Singapore Turf club.
Hooker is optimistic about the future: “We landed into a complex jigsaw. Everything felt different in our first overseas project – very different indeed. So the ‘snow globe’ was well and truly shaken. We embraced this new path and every day, things changed. One year on, we now have a strong profile in Singapore, local employees in the office team, and a great strategy as to what services we can bring to the marketplace in the future. I guess you could say we ‘survived’ the landing!”