We asked Brian Michael Jenkins, Security Research Director, Mineta Transportation Institute: What are the major challenges faced by the security sector for 2021 to respond to COVID-19?
People frequently use the term “the new normal” to suggest that a different social and economic environment will prevail, but without knowing what that might look like.
We can expect 2021 to see a turbulent transition to an uncertain future. Terrorism continues. Jihadist terrorism appeared to be declining in 2019, but it surged in 2020 in Africa and other places, and it is by no means over, as the recent Paris suburb attack suggests. Social isolation and fear contribute to the spread of conspiracy theories, misinformation and radicalisation – which a return to normalcy does not automatically reverse.
Meanwhile, violence associated with far-right extremism was already increasing, a trend strengthened by the pandemic. The coronavirus is not a bio-weapon and the pandemic does not offer terrorists any new capabilities, but it gets them thinking. Bio-terrorism scenarios in particular resonate with the genocidal fantasies of white supremacist and anti-Semitic extremists. Be prepared for alarming hoaxes and low-level biological attacks.
I suspect we are going to see even more emphasis on securing physical spaces, renewed border controls, and inner perimeters with checkpoints, clearing some to enter while keeping out others, and still others quarantined. In the United Kingdom, this will be complicated by Brexit.
Health warnings will determine international travel, both going to and coming from. We may go back to widespread use of the “yellow card”, the international certificate of immunisations still required by some countries to confirm yellow fever and polio immunisations. Anticipate forgeries and other attempts to beat the rules. Will we see domestic versions of the yellow card as proof of immunity? Undocumented immigrants will be most affected.
Metros and trains are the only means of transportation for many in major European cities and the decline in use during the shutdowns has meant that even in developed countries, operators are strapped for cash. Security expenditures may face sharp cuts.
Brian Michael Jenkins
Security Research Director,
Mineta Transportation Institute