Canadian Security Magazine

ASIS connects academics with feet on the street

By Kathleen Sibley   

News Campus

ASIS International, a global organization for security professionals, wants to connect the ivory tower with the security industry's feet on the street through its Connecting Research to Security in Practice (CRISP) reports program.

The program, which debuted last year, has so far published research
reports on preventing gun violence in the workplace, security for tall
buildings, detecting and preventing workplace dishonesty, and laptop

Barbara Buzzell, the ASIS Foundation’s Alexandria, VA-based research
and development project manager, says the goal of the CRISP reports is
to provide practical, research-based resources to help security
professionals deal with specific issues.

"We felt by working with academics we could provide a trusted and reliable source of information," she says.
ASIS wanted to model the program on the U.S. Community-Oriented
Policing Services, which hosts an extensive library of research papers
on single-issue topics for law enforcement.

COPS, which is affiliated with two American universities, provided ASIS
with the templates it uses for its research papers, says Buzzell.


ASIS hopes to publish three to six research papers a year. The reports
have proved popular so far, with more than 3,000 downloads over the
past six months.

Although sometimes academics write from a purely theoretical, as
opposed to practical, perspective, that hasn’t been the case so far,
Buzzell says. Even so, the foundation hopes to attract more interest
from practising security professionals.

"We hope practitioners will write for us but we do have some pretty
stringent standards because we would like for these to represent the
definitive word on a topic," she says.

Plus, she adds, many security practitioners are great speakers and
educators, but not all can write reports. "Writing is a very a unique

The process for writing a report involves submitting a proposal, which
goes to subject matter experts for evaluation. Once the proposal is
approved, ASIS provides the writer with a contract, and the writer
submits a 20-30 page report.

The reports must follow a specific formula in terms of the approach and the presentation of the content.
Two peers – an academic and a practitioner – review the report and make
recommendations. The writer follows up on the recommendations, and a
committee reviews the final product.

And while the reports represent months of work for the writer, there is
the satisfaction of knowing you’ve contributed to increasing the
professionalism of the security industry – and a cheque that averages
$10,000 US, says Buzzell.

Glen Kitteringham, director, security and life safety at Brookfield
Properties in Calgary, had been researching laptop theft for several
years when the foundation approached him to write a CRISP report on the
topic. From start to finish, it took about two years.

"We were just in the beginning stages of getting these published, so there was a big learning curve for everyone," he says.

Kitteringham, who is both a security practitioner and a masters-level
academic, decided to participate in the program because he wanted to
contribute to the professionalization of the industry.

"For me, writing a report was about setting a new standard in the
security industry and documenting the right way and the wrong way of
dealing with an issue," he says.

Kitteringham now sits on the organization’s research council, which is guiding the development of the next round of papers.

"We’re looking for practising security professionals with an academic
background," he says. "One of challenges we’re having is that people
think you have to be an expert in math (to write a CRISP paper), but it
has nothing to do with that."

People misunderstand the goal of a white paper because many are either
thinly veiled marketing tools or extremely academic in nature, he says.

"I started to read a white paper on evacuating people from high-rise
buildings, but I didn’t read half of it because it was all mathematical
equations," he says. "So I can appreciate why some people don’t read

But the true intent of the CRISP papers is to say, here’s a problem,
here’s the research, and here are the potential solutions and the
information for you to make an informed decision, he adds.

Anyone interested in writing a CRISP report should first review the
four published reports, along with the COPS papers. But don’t expect it
to get published overnight. Even now, he says, writers are looking at
probably a year from their initial proposal to publication.

And to encourage students to participate in contributing to
professionalizing the security industry, the ASIS Foundation is funding
a writing competition open to any undergraduate or graduate student
enrolled in college or university during the 2009 academic year. The
3,000- to 6,000-word report can be on the most promising technologies
to meet tomorrow’s security challenges; repairing security’s image;
protecting information and intangible assets in the 21st century;
realistic approaches to merging security and risk management to protect
assets in today’s global environment; or leveraging low-cost, low-tech
solutions for contemporary security challenges.

The prize is US$1,500 for a grad student, $1,000 for an undergrad and $500 for honourable mention.
To find out more information on the competition, visit

Kathleen Sibley is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

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