Monday 10 January 2022

UIC Security Division: 2021 highlights

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This past year, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic continued to impact the way in which the UIC Security Division was able to interact with our members. We would like to take a moment to remember the major accomplishments in 2021.

Throughout this past year, the Security Division remained active in the Covid-19 Task Force and thanks to feedback from members was able to assess how the pandemic has impacted security issues. Throughout the pandemic, criminals have taken advantage of all the new cyber access points due to working from home as well as an increased digitalisation of the rail sector, making cybercrime the main threat. On this issue, UIC is involved in the EU funded H2020 project SAFETY4RAILS, which aims to increase railway infrastructure resilience against combined cyber-physical threats.

The overall feeling of “Covid Fatigue” has led to an increase in aggressions towards staff, which are expected to decrease when sanitary measures such as mask requirements are no longer necessary. Indeed, the Security Platform Working Group SIA (Sabotage, Intrusion and Attacks) held a meeting on the issue of “attacks against employees and staff, their development over the pandemic and possible counter measures” towards the end of the year, in November.

One main accomplishment of the UIC Security Division this year was the publication in October of the guidance document “Organization of security during major events,” which was developed hand-in-hand with RZD and members of the Security Platform Human Factors Working Group. It aims to provide recommendations and best practices for railways when planning and managing security for events which attract a significant number of people.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the annual Security Week was organised as a series of online events, taking place over the first three weeks in June. The first session explored “Covid-19: The Security Landscape for Rail & Public Transport (with the support of UITP),” the second session examined “Adapting Behaviour to New Cyber Threats” and the third discussed “International Cooperation in Rail Security.” The online event had over 80 participants from several continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and South and North America.

Also in June, the 9th Training Session on Railway Safety and Security took place whereby the Security Division was able to shed light on how Covid-19 has impacted rail security and the various tools UIC has in place for security practitioners (the RESTRAIL toolbox, the Rail Security Hub and the Network of Quick Responders). The Security Division also worked closely with other UIC Units and supported their activities, for example by actively contributing to the new Trespass and Suicide Prevention (TreSP) Network set up by the UIC Safety Unit.

While we had hoped to be able to host the 2021 World Security Congress as a physical event in December, the pandemic didn’t allow for it. Instead, the online event gathered around 100 participants from 30 countries and 50 companies, representing: national authorities (transport, police), UIC members, international organisations (UITP, UNECE, EPF, CIPC) and relevant European Commission DGs (DGHOME and DGMOVE) and EU bodies (EUROPOL). Taking place over two days, the main themes addressed were the organization of major events and emerging threats to rail.

The EU funded H2020 projects PROACTIVE and SAFETY4RAILS have continued to meet their goals. A multitude of activities have accompanied us throughout the year, mostly online: surveys, interviews, focus-groups, and workshops. Many UIC members contributed to the PROACTIVE study on common approaches of CBRNe Practitioners and the SAFETY4RAILS survey on requirements for multimodal transport systems, including crisis management and crisis communication. A special thanks to the Security Platform Working Group SIA for organizing a meeting focusing on combined cyber-physical threats in May. Crisis communication was a central topic of 2021 for both projects, marked by several joint activities (e.g., PROACTIVE and NO-FEAR webinar and the COVINFORM and PROACTIVE whitepaper on inclusive communication).

In the Fall, a return to a new normal was seen in the PROACTIVE project, as a hybrid meeting was organized in Brussels as part of a joint symposium on CBRNe. Seventy-five people participated in-person (and about another 50 joined the event online) and it was heart warming to realise that you can tell when someone is smiling even when wearing a mask! In addition, towards the end of the year, the European Commission decided to extend PROACTIVE until August 2023.

The Security Platform tool of the Network of Quick Responders, which allows members to ask one another about arising security issues and receive rapid feedback, was activated a total of ten times this year and addressed such topics as the use of various camera types, public-private partnerships, or driving simulation apps.

And of course, throughout the whole year, the UIC Rail Security Hub (secure, user-friendly, interactive platform with information and solutions on railway security issues), has been comprehensively updated with the work resulting from the different activities of the security platform:

We were able to accomplish a great deal in 2021, despite a global context of uncertainty, thanks to the hard work of the security division team and the security platform members. 2022 is announcing itself to be yet another unprecedented year as sanitary restrictions return in Europe. If possible, the World Security Congress 2022 will be held as a physical event and we hope to see you all there, face-to-face.

Security Division team wishes you all a very happy New Year.

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