ASISS was formed two years ago when Singapore American School proposed a regional forum to encourage more routine and effective collaboration on school security issues. The recent gathering was the group's second annual conference and was jointly hosted by SAS and UWCSEA Dover, with organizational support from ISB (Bangkok), ISKL, ISM, and Marlborough College. Schools from across Asia sent safety and security officers, risk management specialists, facilities and operations managers, and workplace health and safety representatives. An optional pre-conference course on terrorist threats was attended by 11 conference participants.
Although the safety and security challenges faced by international schools are myriad, planning, learning from experts, and sharing knowledge can help schools manage both the risks themselves and the fears they provoke. The 2017 ASISS conference featured presentations on a range of threats and threat mitigation approaches by professors, embassy personnel, NGO specialists, and industry leaders. "Big picture" topics spanned terrorist threats in Southeast Asia, organizational resilience, and emergency response procedures, while day-to-day risks were addressed in presentations on pool safety, food hygiene and allergy management, bus safety for young riders, and cyber security. Participants viewed the host schools' campus security measures and shared resources, technical knowledge, and their own schools' experiences during two "Open Space" discussion sessions. Group tea breaks, cocktail receptions, and meals further encouraged collaboration among attendees.
Organized by SAS facilities director Anthony Wong and SAS workplace health and safety specialist Sebastian Wong, this year's conference was also supported by generous sponsors Rayvn Incident Manager, School Travel Manager, Qognify, Avigilon, ICD Security Solutions, International SOS, Lockton Companies, and Yeap Transport Management. Through presentations and informational booths, sponsors educated participants about their products and services.
The post-conference survey showed that respondents felt most conference events were rewarding and the overall experience gave them new tools and ideas to address risks facing their own schools. Survey respondents especially enjoyed meeting other professionals with similar responsibilities, speaking with vendors contracted by other ASISS schools, and working on common concerns in the small-group sessions. ASISS plans to hold the next conference outside of Singapore for the first time: it will take place in Bangkok from September 27 to 28, 2018. Save the date!
ASISS member schools all have the same goal: ensuring that their students may focus on learning in a safe and secure environment. The annual ASISS conference provides a rare opportunity for international school professionals to learn from experts and from each other how best to achieve this goal. We are proud that SAS continues to play a leading role in fostering communication and cooperation about these important issues.