Opening of the ASIS European Security Conference & Exhibition

Speech by Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten at the opening of the ASIS European Security Conference & Exhibition at the World Forum in The Hague on 2 April 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Only a week ago, fifty-eight world leaders met here at the World Forum for the Nuclear Security Summit 2014. Organising the NSS in the middle of The Hague, international city of peace and justice, was an enormous operation. On the one hand, security had to be air-tight; on the other hand, we wanted to minimise the inconvenience for the people living and working here. Life in this dynamic city, the seat of government in the Netherlands, had to go on without too much disruption.

Well, everyone agrees: the nuclear summit was a big success. Not only because of the results achieved, but also because of the outstanding organisation and security. It went without a hitch and the nuisance to residents and commuters was kept to a minimum.

As Minister of Security and Justice, I’m proud of that. But government agencies can’t take all the credit for the success of the NSS security operation. Security for an event of this scale is not something government can do alone. We can’t do it alone and shouldn’t want to. Working with the private sector is crucial.

To those who might be wondering ‘why?’, I would say this: look around. Look at the approaches to safety and security problems that have been truly effective in recent years. Like the amazingly successful Dutch approach to robberies and other high-impact crimes. You’ll see that behind every successful approach there’s always a close working relationship between a great many partners: between public authorities responsible for safety and security, but also between public and private-sector partners. This kind of collaboration often produces new, effective and surprising solutions.

Public-private partnership in the field of security brings out the best in all parties. Government can learn a lot from the private sector. Businesses and knowledge institutes know so much about new developments, new technologies and also new threats. And in the same way, the private sector can learn a great deal from government. This interaction, ladies and gentlemen, creates synergy – something that benefits us all.

In the Netherlands, there is growing awareness of how important it is to have sound public-private cooperation. So we strongly encourage it – on an ad hoc basis, and lately in a more structured, institutional form.

• Take cyber security, an issue of growing importance. We set up the National Cyber Security Council three years ago to tackle IT risks and threats. All the relevant strategic parties, both public and private, are represented in the council. It critically examines threats to assess which need tackling first. It decides where more research & development is needed and it looks at how knowledge and experience can best be shared among public and private parties.
• Another example: The Hague Security Delta, the top Dutch innovation centre for the security cluster. The concept of public-private cooperation even appears in its name. The word ‘Delta’ doesn’t just refer to our location where several major European rivers meet. It also stands for the triangle formed by government, business and science. The aim of this union is to give security in the Netherlands a powerful new boost. During the NSS we set up an Innovation Room at The Hague Security Delta, providing a fantastic overview of our innovation capability in the field of security. For three days, journalists, security professionals, public administrators and event organisers – many from abroad – had a chance to see amazing inventions like:
- a touchscreen table that allows you to design tactical security plans on a realistic display. In no time at all. It can even model the impact of the plans.
- Or ‘safe-armoured glazing’. A colourless transparent paste you can apply to glass to make windows bulletproof.
- Another interesting example is the innovation that won the public prize at the NSS: a ‘situational awareness’ solution for mounted police. A helmet camera using the latest 4G technology, allows police officers to share more information faster with each other and with command posts. This leads to better decision-making. I tried out the helmet myself. When I turned my head, everyone could see incredibly sharp images of my surroundings.

I could go on and on. I tried out some of the gadgets in the Innovation Room and saw some very exciting new technologies. I’m delighted that these inventive and practical solutions to security problems came about thanks to the joint efforts of government, business and science.

Describing these solutions to you is one thing, but you should see them with your own eyes. Unfortunately, the Innovation Room was only open during the NSS. But we have a short film for you...

Ladies and gentlemen, there are even more fascinating examples of successful security innovations produced by public-private partnerships. For example, have you heard of Live View? It’s a system developed in the Netherlands to reduce police response time to robberies. So, how does it work? A business owner installs security cameras. The cameras are connected to a private security company. If a robbery takes place, the security company feeds the images directly to the police. This live feed helps the police decide how to respond and arrest the suspect quickly. Many companies are already connected to Live View.

You may think I’m boasting a little too much for a minister from a tiny country in the Delta. But it’s such a pleasure to tell you about the excellent, innovative initiatives that can come of public-private cooperation. Let me mention one more example. The Dutch police and the Public Prosecution Service have signed a voluntary agreement with the four largest banks on a joint approach to fighting violent crime in the financial sector. The agreement allows the police, the Public Prosecution Service and banks to share information quickly and efficiently to prevent robberies and ATM gas attacks, and to catch suspects more quickly. And it works! The number of ATM gas attacks has fallen dramatically.

I think I’ve made my point. Public-private cooperation in security pays. I urge you to seek out this kind of partnership as often as you can. When government, business and science pool their knowledge and experience, they develop fresh, inspiring ideas and achieve much more. Don’t be afraid to be open and transparent. We need to talk to each other about our security issues and problems and what we can do for each other. Only then will we achieve the synergy we need to develop the best innovative solutions.

And when you’re looking for partners, don’t limit your search to your own country. Have a look across the border if you can. At international level we can learn a great deal from each other, and from our best practices. This ASIS European Security Conference & Exhibition is an excellent forum for sharing information and working together: make the most of it.

I wish you every success. I hope you’ll establish many interesting and valuable new contacts and exchange useful information. And I hope this will inspire you to create new initiatives that lead to a safer society, in your own country and internationally.

Thank you.