As the security manager for the WV Haiti response, my team was involved in a number of interesting projects. Some of the key projects I will outline here. The largest project was the Globaltrack project, which took what seemed to be most of my deployment. In reality, it only took 3 months.
Global Track Project
Ok, it was the largest taking a great deal of time, true. However, this was not my only focus, it was just lengthy. It was also as much fun as it was challenging. Having a great team leader in Christy, we build a great team.
This project was the installation of global tracking devices in our new vehicles. WV had purchased 35 brand new Toyota Land Cruisers for the response. Purchased from the global leader, Gibraltar Toyota at $45,000 each ($1.6 Million). We were using mostly rental vehicles from the Dominican Republic before these arrived. As mentioned, rental companies were charging insane money, $5,000-$8,000 a month.
To this day I have no idea why WV purchased these vehicles with full options. They had the VHF/UHF radios installed, which were never used. Recall the 200 GP380’s sitting in storage! Also equipped with the Codan Envoy radio system, also never used. But the Codan antennas looked really cool sitting on the front bumper!
Features of Globaltrack
In Haiti, at the time, carjacking was a big threat. As a mitigation measure we decided to install GPS trackers. After shopping around, it seemed that #Globaltrack offered the best package. The units, when installed would offer us:
- Real time vehicle tracking
- Speed monitoring
- Ability to shut down remotely (from phone or computer)
- and more
The initial challenge was the arrival of the vehicles. They had been ordered prior to my May and sat in Haiti customs seemingly forever. Import taxes needed to be paid, licensing fees, duty and the like. The Globaltrack units arrived well before the vehicles were released. We had also been gifted 7 GMC Sierra pick-up trucks from a private donor. The #GMC’s were a bigger challenge.
On July 6, the installer arrived from South Africa with all his tools. The team was eager to begin and learn how to install these units. The reason for us learning the installation was for future installations should WV purchase more vehicles. The entire project cycle for install was planned for 10 days. But, due to release of vehicles and other dynamics, that target was off by about a week.
Interesting fact about the installer. Some of his tools were prohibited on airlines, carry-on or under. As he was determined to get his tools to Haiti, he had learned a crafty technique. He put his specialty knives into silicone cylinders. Apparently, silicone masks the x-ray and he was successful in getting his tools to Haiti. I personally do not recommend trying this method, I am not 100% convinced it would work.
Everyone on my team participated in the installation process to learn with Billy and Alex specializing. Once the vehicles were released, we brought them to the garage of GN Plaza. This is where we would be installing the trackers. Once a vehicle was kitted out, it was released to the program it was assigned. The entire implementation cost, including the units, was $100K.
GPS tracking, although pricy, there have been improvements over the years and other vendors offer better packages. Track 24 for example offers portable units with vehicle kits for just under $1,000 a unit.
When I went back to Haiti a few years ago, not one of the vehicles purchased remain. They have either been sold or wrecked. Globaltrack units are now an option when you purchase a vehicle from Gibraltar Toyota. You can have them pre-installed and not have to go through this process.
They did help during a few accidents that we encountered. One vehicle in particular crossed a bridge and rammed into the back of a parked dump truck. When questioned, the driver stated he was not speeding. The units proved otherwise and that he in fact was. He had crossed the bridge at such a speed as to take flight before losing control and hitting the parked truck.
Security Assessments Project
Naturally, this is an ongoing project, but in Haiti it was extra special. Our team was the first in the organization to test and implement a new system. This system was then taken ownership by the World Vision Office of Corporate Security. Yes, WV has a department dedicated to corporate security.
A security risk assessment template was designed by Mike T prior to my arrival. The template designed was brilliant and intuitive. It had yet to be tested to any great extent and we would be the first to do so. The WV OCS team designed and developed a full day training package on SRA’s and the template. This training was offered in the WV Security Risk Management Training prior to HEAT.
Although others have come out since and WV has recently improved the template, this was the standard for several years. It consisted of three sections:
- Programme Assessment
- Threat Assessment, Vulnerability Assessment & Risk Analysis
- Planning & Mitigation Measures
As WV’s OCS Core Security Requirements (CSR) standards were to create a uniform platform across the partnership, each country office was to begin implementing this standard. Proudly, the Haiti response office was the first to be compliant on November 1, 2010. Mostly due to the hard work of my team and Julius, who took the lead.
Drivers & ID
One issue we faced with our international staff in Haiti was driving. Everyone who arrived was an “expert” driver and wanted to drive. Initially, expats were given free access to drive the rental vehicles.
A few accidents later, my team and I were determined to come up with a plan. Control was needed for expats driving. Following a senior management meeting, it was decided that the security team would take on this responsibility. So, what does one do to control young free-range humanitarians who want to drive?
Drivers exams and licensing! That seemed like the most logical and pragmatic approach. Since I had this budget that needed spending, we purchased a card maker. This had a dual purpose since staff also required ID badges.
Driver’s License Process
Now we had to design a WV driver’s license for those who wanted to drive. That was the easy part and we came up with something that looked quite official. Once we had a template, Dominique ran the machine and kept track of the licenses.
Expats who wanted to drive WV vehicles in Haiti would require the following:
- A home country driver’s license
- Minimum of 3 years driving experience
- Minimum of 1 month already deployed
- Perform a road test
The road test was the best part. Gilbert would be responsible for administering this test. The individual who wanted to drive had to go with Gilbert and demonstrate their abilities. This road test took about an hour during the day, when Haiti traffic was heavy. If a fail was registered, the person could retake the road test after waiting a 2-week period.
Of course, there were many other projects that we worked on. Security training was one of them, which will come in a story soon enough. Overall, we took on as many projects as we could and succeeded in them all. Our team was of course, excellent!
Next – R&R – Vacations