6th August 2021
The Hot Topic – Government App Stop’PING National Security in their Tracks?
July 2021 saw the UK Government giving England the green light with zero restrictions on all activities and industries.
With these actions, many assumed the numbers of those contracting COVID-19 were down and individuals could start getting back to normal. However, once the doors were open for the public, came the flood of ‘pings’ from the Governments track and trace app stating individuals had to self-isolate due to being in contact with someone who had COVID-19.
Although as of Monday, tens of thousands of people will no longer be required to self-isolate if they came into contact with someone who tested positive, after the Government comprised major changes to the NHS track and trace app. It states, ‘the app will only “ping” a person’s close contacts from 2 days prior to a positive test rather than the previous 5 days they had set out.’ This comes after the Government had been readily pressured to act upon the 700,000 alerts that were sent to app users for the week of the 21st of July, which turned out to be a record since the app was launched back in 2020. These record numbers caused staffing issues and left businesses worse off across a number of industries nationwide.
So, with multiple industries having been affected by the pingdemic, we wondered how the security industry have fared with the isolation of many of their staff on essential national security projects?
As explained previously about the pingdemic, many have faced disruptions to their usual ways of working due to the thousands of individuals having been told to self-isolate for safety, and the national security industry is no exception! “The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) revealed that, in some forces, control room operations had seen a higher number of staff absences compared to the national police absence rate, which stands at 7.3%.” (LBC News) This resulted in police response times to emergency calls being increasingly delayed.
One police force in Cleveland, commented stating the self-isolation and pingdemic is crippling their services and the front line, they’re running on overtime and are close to minimum levels of staff. Cleveland Police Federation chairman Glen Teeley said, “To have five or six people have to self-isolate because one of their colleagues has tested positive is just crippling us – and we’re having to police it all with overtime.” They are pushed to limits and national security services are being strained because of it.
So what can be done about it this pingdemic? Well the Government set out a scheme of daily testing for specific national services like the NHS in order to keep these running during the pandemic. They have now announced that they will be broadening that to include police, fire, border control and more to alleviate pressures put on these sectors.
Although daily testing and reduced numbers for self-isolation for the app, are a step in the right direction for these services, it doesn’t resolve the issue of the national security being short staffed and overworked with security slacking in some areas due to priority cases being dealt with first. Could the introduction of physical temporary security measures for those jobs, such as crowd control, event management and demarcation, be used to replace the staff, freeing them up to concentrate their time on emergencies and priorities? A highly secure temporary fencing system would help to keep groups, crowds and other minor police jobs in check whilst the pingdemic is still on high alert.