When the City Center security personnel approached my car and gently swiped my dusty Mazda door, I could not help but give them a very awkward look. It’s true that Tutankhamun’s tomb is probably cleaner than my car, but no need to be this rude!
But what first looked like a car cleanliness inspection turned out to be a good news for all Lebanese mall goers! Just a few seconds after the security staff plugged the small paper strap they used into a robust security machine, they cleared me to go in.
After City Mall, City Center is the second Lebanese mall to say good bye to the old rotating antenna security system which was reported to be fake long ago by numerous bloggers such as Gino’s Blogand Blog Baladi as well as by many Media outlets (CNN, BBC).
We got the chance to ask a few “insecure” questions to Youmna Zod from the leader in security equipment Zod Security.
What is the technical name of the old antenna device? Is it really a fake one everywhere or are some of them authentic?
Starting from the Quadro Tracker and the Mole devices (conceived before gaining popularity in Lebanon), encompassing the most famous local frauds: ADE series, Alpha 6 and Sniffex, as well as the most recent HEDD 1 device; they are all fake.
This is my favorite reference to identify fake detectors:
The US NIJ (National institute of Justice) report on explosive detectors, under a section called ‘warning: bogus explosive detector’, warns: “Suspect any device that uses a swinging rod that is held nearly level, pivots freely and “indicates” the material being sought by pointing at it.”
Can you tell us more about the explosive detection devices being used by City Mall and City Center?
City Mall had been using the MO2M detector for a while now. It is an efficient explosive detector if properly maintained; a vapor detector. It operated by taking an air sample and analyzing it, in order to detect the presence of explosives particles, in which case, an alarm would sound. It is based on ion-mobility spectrometry (IMS).
As for City Center, I have not seen this device yet. However, the fact that they are swiping an area seems to point out to a trace detector, which would be a real explosive detector. It operates by detecting trace particles of explosives, most likely based on ion-mobility spectrometry (IMS) as well.
What is the cost of such devices? Any reason why malls are still not adopting them?
Real explosive detectors are either trace or vapor detectors (or both at once), price starts at 25,000 USD and specifications can vary greatly. I would suggest paying close attention to the detector’s sensitivity, device’s weight, as well as the detector’s analysis time as they are important when it comes to a mall’s application needs.
It is also important to get proper training and make sure your supplier can provide maintenance for the products.
The reasons why they are not easily adopted, is in part, the same why the antenna detectors succeeded in their fraud. The real explosive detectors are rather costly and cannot operate at a distance.
Two factors that made selling fake antenna detectors possible. As they were presented at an affordable price (although with a 99% profit margin) and sold with claims of detecting explosives and even weapons from kilometers away (although completely useless).
What other “alarming” notes can we highlight to mall owners?
While using the proper equipment is important, having trained personnel is even more important. An equipment cannot operate by itself. It needs bright people to operate it. The biggest part of the detection process is actually dependent on the security personnel. Thus, they need to be properly trained and have enough rest – short shifts should be implemented.
The metal detectors, currently being used in many malls, comprise both walk through detectors and handheld detectors. In no occasion should it be used to scan bags (or cars!), as they obviously contain metal objects. If a bag needs to be scanned, there are equipment specially made for this. They are called X-Ray scanners.
To note that metal detectors are used to, mainly, detect weapons.
We should also highlight the importance of securing all entrances as securing a high-throughput area is very hard. Accurate and efficient detection usually takes time which you do not have the luxury to do in malls. While it is definitely important to use the right equipment, it is also important to have security, emergency and evacuation plans. Just picture this, if a fire alarm sounds in a Lebanese mall, what would happen?
While we raise our thumbs at City Center for this new security procedure, we hope other malls will follow suite so that maybe one day Lebanon would stop appearing on Google’s top search results whenever you research “mall explosive fake detectors”.
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