Security Science – An Emerging Applied Science


The development of the Security Science degree at Edith Cowan University has advanced the emerging science of the protection of assets and individuals. The Security Science programme is now offered as undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses which have the foundation of concepts and principles from established science disciplines such as physics, engineering, social science, psychology and management.

A scientific approach to the protection of assets allows logic and structure to be applied to security programmes. The themes that underline security programmes include security risk management, security technology and security management. This emerging, applied science of Security Science is developing models, theories, and academic rigor to better understand the strategies for the protection of assets.

The Security Science programme at Edith Cowan University had its beginnings in 1993, when a study conducted by the author set out to examine which industries in Australia were supported by Australian universities. The level and form of the support ranged from short course training, through formal undergraduate courses, to major collaborative research centres between industry key bodies and university research institutes. The study revealed that no Australian university supported the high technology and security management industries in Australia. The study also indicated that security technology operated by police, the military, and government agencies were not supported by accredited educational or training programmes.

In 1994, Edith Cowan University commissioned the development of Security Science as an area of study in the University. Initially, the academic study areas of physics, chemistry, electronics, mathematics, and engineering were applied to the newly developed area of Security Science. A range of research investigations applied to aspects of the protection of assets was commenced. Also a proliferation of short courses involving security management and security technology was presented in Australia and South-East Asia, with enthusiasm from government and the security industry. These courses included security risk, physical security, electronic security, security management, and bank security.

Upon the request of the security industry, a formal degree course was proposed to provide professional security education for government, police, military, and corporate and private security managers. A working group from these organisations provided support for about 18 months during the development phase of the Bachelor of Science (Security) degree programme. Later, an advisory committee drawn from these same organisations provided most valuable input on the current and future functions and application of professional security practice.

The Security Science programme that was developed was principally an integrated applied science course, with the inclusion of concepts and principles from the social science domains of criminology and crime prevention. The course encourages understanding and problem solving within the sphere of the protection of assets, and as such it began to establish the rudiments of an emerging discipline in Security Science. The programme has had great appeal for security professionals from government, military, police, and the private security industry.

The function of security is to provide a sense of well-being and safety for individuals in the community, as well as the
protection of assets for an organisation. In a community, individuals require protection at home, in their workplace, and at leisure, and as such all facets of an individual’s activities have a security component. That is, all activities in which people engage require security in some form; physical protection, health security, food security, identity security and national security are all facets of the protection of the individual.

As well, the assets of an organisation also need to be protected, and can be considered as:

• The personnel of the organisation, such as the employees, clients and visitors to facilities of the organisation.
• The information of the organisation, including its financial documents, future product design, and personnel information.
• The property of the facility, including the building(s), equipment, and its products.

The science of security is incorporated in the protection of assets of companies, governments, and nations. The strategic facilities of a nation have been identified as those that are essential for the prospering of the nation and its people. That is critical infrastructure can include:

• Oil rigs and oil refineries.
• Airports.
• State and national processing centres.
• Water resources.
• Military, naval, and air force bases.
• Electricity supply facilities.
• National works of art.
• Financial institutions.
• National research facilities.

The strategies that are applied to protecting critical infrastructure require a combination of planning and design, security technology, and the management of the security and technological systems.

Professional development is an essential component of professional employment as it allows the individual to maintain currency and recency in the chosen field of a career. A characteristic of professional development is that it is both ongoing and directed: that is, to maintain the confidence of the community in the knowledge and skills base of a profession, you must continue to strive to be at the leading edge of knowledge in your chosen discipline.

The foundation for the continued development of formal knowledge of security and its applications for the protection of assets in the national and international contexts will depend upon an understanding of the principles and concepts of the emerging discipline of security. The intelligence component in the structure of the discipline of security is crucial for the professional application of a new generation of conceptual principles of security for the protection of assets. The development of the knowledge base in security depends upon the advancement of security as a discipline, and the extent of interaction between academia and professional practitioners of the security industry. The knowledge base for the emerging discipline of security will be enhanced by ongoing research both in the fundamental context of theory development, and the applied context of asset protection. It is necessary for government, academia, and the commercial security industry to contribute to this knowledge base.

The recognised professional vocations in the community are characterised by certain identifiable features of distinction and functions of operation. Whether the profession is engineering, or medicine, or law essentially the characteristics are the same, with the governance and recognition of excellence in the industry being peer initiated.

Some of the characteristics of a profession that will apply to the security sector are:

• An educated work force.
• The industry has sufficient maturity and organisational infrastructure to be self-regulating.
• The industry adopts a proactive leadership position in security matters.
• Professional responsibility is extended to clients within the security sector.
• The industry is capable of a visionary perspective of its place in national planning strategies.
• Workers at all levels in the security industry have skilled knowledge which is continually maintained.

The skilled knowledge base for professional security personnel represents the most difficult characteristic of a profession to be achieved. However, the benefits that accrue from this outcome are ultimately paramount for the success of the protection of assets. The national and international trends of the professional security workforce to become better educated and more highly skilled is progressing and must be maintained.

Improvements in the education of the work force can produce highly beneficial outcomes that include:

• A higher quality service can be provided for the clients and consumers of the security sector.
• Training and education represent the most cost effective solution in the long term in all industries.
• Skills development provides a higher status profession.
• Transmission of knowledge within an organisation will improve with increased management and technical skills.
• The standardisation of procedures and techniques can be achieved with an industry-wide educational programme.

Organisations will benefit from improved professionalism of their security personnel, as a responsible and well-educated workforce is necessary for the security industry to achieve professional status. A major outcome of the enhancement of professionalism in the security industry is the maintaining of:

• Credibility: the community must be aware that the security industry is conducting its activities in a plausible manner.
• Integrity: the industry is controlled by principle, rather than other motivations.
• Reliability: self-regulation of the industry will benefit the community.

The relatively recent establishment of professional security management and technology courses at institutions of higher learning in countries including the United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, and South Africa indicates the realisation of professional adequacy for the security industry.