Does heat affect security?
“Heat wave smashes temperature records across Europe” can be read in many media. We currently see higher temperatures in Europe than before. And although many people are engaged into scientific and political climate change debates, for our industry it may be much more relevant to discuss the effects of changes in temperature on our security levels. What is the effect of heat on the performance of security professionals and security systems?
As Temperature Goes Up, Cognitive Performance Goes Down
On the Cambridge Sciences site can be read: A hot environment has been shown to impact the brain, with uncomfortable heat diminishing cognitive abilities. One review of the literature in the oddly-specific International Journal of Hyperthermia concluded that complex tasks are impaired more than simple tasks. At around 30 degrees Celsius, any task that requires a lot of mental effort will start to be much harder to pull off.
Other studies are showing similar results. Significant changes in cognitive performance are seen with people that need to perform cognitive tasks in an environment with a high temperature, both in terms of speed and quality of work. It is clear that it affects administrators, officers, guards and other security professionals that are working under these circumstances.
Heat and technology
Drawing conclusions of the effects of temperature increases on the performance is much harder. There may be effects on the performance of computers, but perhaps our concern should not address the parts of our infrastructure that are in indoor facilities where the climate is managed more or less. There are also many devices used outdoor situaties and may need to endure long periods of unprotected exposure to solar heat. Access cards left on car dashboards are known to melt at certain temperatures, hence the reason so called “HT”-cards (high temperature ) exist. Manufacturers specify and temperature ranges for their products and for extreme circumstances they proved solutions like weather protection casings.
But maybe (northern) Europe can learn from other continents when it comes to dealing with high temperatures. What is your experience with this topic? Anything you can share with the industry?