The recent attacks and tragic loss of life in New Zealand and Sri Lanka have prompted the release of a new free app to help those in charge of places of worship to protect their congregations and buildings. The Alaris app aims to not only help save lives in the event of another act of terror, but also provide free, practical and straight-forward advice to help religious communities of any faith feel both more secure and prepared.
Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples shouldn’t have to think about protecting themselves from violent attacks, but the unfortunate reality is that they must. Religious buildings are targeted not just because of intolerance and hatred towards their specific faith, but also because they are, by design, open spaces intended to welcome people in without question.
However, with anti-semitism on the rise, religious hate crime increasing by 40% last year (50% of which is aimed at Muslims) and European churches increasingly becoming targets for vandals, all faiths and denominations could benefit from a boost to security. Alaris has been developed to help any and all religious sites prepare their buildings and people with simple measures that can help discourage would-be attackers or criminals, as well as expert advice on what to do in an attack.
Alaris features security and counter-terrorism advice from Chris Phillips, the former Head of the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office. Chris Phillips has directed the security for Wimbledon, for companies such as Marks & Spencer, major events at Twickenham Stadium and has trained police, military and business clients in counter terror security.
“Unfortunately, criminals and terrorists are not only looking at places of worship as potential targets, but they are actively seeking them out to attack,” says Chris. “Recent attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka are but the latest of many attacks in many countries.”
The simple user interface of the Alaris app has been designed to be easy to use by anyone with a smartphone, even under the pressure of a critical incident. Categories such as “Suspect Bag or Package” and “Full and Partial Evacuation” allow users to tap on a scenario and see industry-leading guidance on how to respond and prepare.
The app has been developed by YUDU, who specialise in software designed to help respond to the threats of terrorism, cyber and major disruptions. “The Alaris app helps those with responsibility to know what they should have in place, how to do it and also gives advice during an incident. It’s instantly available on their phone and can be accessed in a crisis,” explains Chris Phillips.
YUDU’s CEO, Richard Stephenson, said the recent attacks highlighted the vulnerability of places of worship to those willing to resort to extreme violence.
“Chris Phillips and I decided to develop an app to place the very best security advice in the hands of those in charge of places of worship. Alaris is free for anybody to use and if it saves just one life, it will be worth the effort a thousand times over.”
“We decided to provide the advice and make it available to places of worship free of charge. Often places of worship have little or no security and not a lot of money to spend,” says Chris. Anyone with a smartphone can download the app, giving religious communities a free resource to help them protect themselves from an unthinkable but impossible to ignore threat.