The terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament last Wednesday has left many in shock. The mood since has been one of sympathy for the families, and praise for the police, with the Prime Minister describing PC Keith Palmer as “every inch a hero.” The current threat level remains one step below critical, and police presence is heightened throughout the UK.
But when news of the attack spread across London, Chanel stores in Mayfair and Knightsbridge were already aware of the threat, thanks to an app called Spotlight, being trialled by Scottish security company Vigilo Solutions.
Designed as a free alert network to help boutique stores with theft prevention and to alert users to the dangers of a terrorist attack, or other large scale disaster, Spotlight is the brainchild of former Royal Marine and Special Branch Detective Constable, Eddie Gilmour, MD of Vigilo Solutions.
Mr Gilmour said: “I got the idea after the Bataclan attack in Paris. I couldn’t shake the thought of the fact that people were still ordering food and drink, having a normal evening, when people were being murdered just feet away.”
Sending alert during emergencies
“I designed Spotlight to allow stores and service businesses to co-ordinate their response—both to theft and shoplifting”
“I designed Spotlight to allow stores and service businesses to co-ordinate their response—both to theft and shoplifting—and to tragedies like Paris and London. With an attack like Wednesday, it all happens so quickly, and waiting for a news report just isn’t an option.”
The app is free to all users, and stores can send alerts that will be sent to every user on the network, including members of the public, that an attack is taking place, allowing the public to get to safety.
Mr Gilmour, who was one of the most qualified surveillance trainers in the country, said: “If the app saves even one life, it’ll be absolutely worth it. This was never a financial decision for me. I wanted to make something that would make a difference, and we’re going to roll it out to as many people as possible, in order to get as comprehensive coverage as we can.”
Assisting intelligence led policing
Basing the idea on his decades of experience in the field, Mr Gilmour knows how well security staff know their areas, and has firm faith that they can be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the street, via the Spotlight app.
Once the app is live, and coverage increases, Vigilo plans to liaise with both the Metropolitan Police Service, and Police Scotland, and to provide access to the network in times of emergencies.
In addition, the theft alert network allows back end collation of detailed statistics of under-reported attempted thefts, which the company plans to make available to the police, allowing forces to map patterns and assist with intelligence led policing.
Mr Gilmour said: “I had a fairly searching re-examination of my life after I suffered a heart attack last year, and I wanted to create something that would keep people safe, and hopefully make sure an attack like Wednesday can be averted. Or at least minimise the tragedy that results.”