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GardaWorld, IHS Markit partner for travel security


August 13, 2019
By Neil Sutton

The phrase “duty of care” has come to enshrine many of the central tenets of the security profession, particularly in regard to the protection of people, property and assets.

Senior members of GardaWorld, the Montreal-based guarding and security services firm, as well as the organization’s partner for data and intelligence analysis, IHS Markit, addressed the topic at the International Economic Forum of the Americas, which was held in Montreal in June.

In an interview with Canadian Security following the event, Martin Plante, national director for consulting, investigation and travel security, GardaWorld, described duty of care as “the responsibility that an employer has in relation to their employees … and to take care of them wherever they are around the world.”

Growth for GardaWorld

The company, founded in 1995 on an initial investment of $25,000, has grown into a multi-national affair, with more than 92,000 employees operating in 45 countries.

Privately-held GardaWorld has grown significantly through acquisition. The company acquired African security provider KK Security, operating in seven African countries, in 2016. In 2018, it acquired United American Security, a company of 3,600 employees, which operates in 16 U.S. states, and U.K.-based NYA, a crisis management consulting firm. Earlier this year, GardaWorld bought Whelan Security, a U.S. firm with approximately 10,000 employees across 31 states.

In Canada, GardaWorld has also significantly bolstered its residential, commercial and alarm monitoring operations, with several acquisitions in the past year.

Christian Paradis, senior vice-president, strategic development, security services, says the company is built for growth and its founder, Stephan Crétier, is keen on expansion. Paradis says GardaWorld is also in the process of diversification. Aside from its more recent interest in building a monitoring business, the company has invested in risk-based consulting and travel risk services.

Travel partner

In 2018, GardaWorld announced its partnership with IHS Markit, a global research and intelligence firm. GardaWorld’s travel security platform, Crisis24, now incorporates IHS Markit’s risk forecasting and analysis, producing real-time reports for Garda’s clients around the world, which in turn help them prepare for or mitigate potential threats.

IHS Markit’s director of country risk consulting Mike Hartnett, who joined Plante and Paradis as a participant in the “duty of care” roundtable discussion at the International Forum, says his firm began forecasting risk about 15 years ago. The current paradigm of risk prediction and analysis for IHS Markit is one that incorporates all manner of data, including social media and direct reports from its 80 full-time analysts who operate globally.

“Those analysts are from the countries and the regions that they cover,” explains Hartnett. “They speak the language, they understand the business dynamics, the cultural and the social norms. They really provide a unique insight into those countries and how the risk dynamics are changing over time.”

IHS Markit provides a one-year “quantifiable forecast” and a three-year “directional view,” according to Hartnett. “What Garda is doing is using those forward-looking risk forecasts to help provide travel security managers with the ability to look out over the next year to three years, to understand where their travellers are going and to understand how those risk dynamics may be changing.”

For each baseline risk assessment the firm produces for the 211 countries it covers, it also generates “at least two viable alternatives” for that baseline “and then we identify key indicators of change that would lead us to believe that one of some combination of those scenarios would come to fruition,” he says.

IHS Markit works with numerous clients globally to deliver its risk forecasts, but has partnered exclusively with GardaWorld for travel risk advisories.

Whether the world is a “riskier” place than it was a decade ago may be up for debate. “But I think one thing that you can honestly say is it’s a more complex risk environment today,” says Hartnett.

“It’s a wider spectrum of recognized risk impacting companies across strategic, operational and tactical levels. … Then there’s just the diversity of different threat actors out there, including states, non-state actors, criminal organizations, activists.”

He says the concept of “duty of care” has driven the travel security market in the last 10 to 15 years, as organizations look to fulfill their “fiduciary and stewardship responsibilities.”

Moreover, IHS Markit’s own legacy in risk analysis provides it with more than a decade of data that can continue to be mined in the service of mitigating future threats. The company tracks real events back to earlier intelligence, says Hartnett. By understanding these relationships better, IHS Markit can further refine its prediction engines.

Travel security could be seen as a bellwether for the entire security industry — less reactive, more proactive. “That’s where the market has to go,” says Hartnett. “That’s where this partnership [with GardaWorld] is helping to lead in some ways.” 

This story was featured in the Summer 2019 edition of Canadian Security magazine.


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