To my mind there's two types of security:
- Rendering something for all intents and purposes non-existent to anybody who isn't authorised to know about it.
- Something in your face that says: "We both know there's something here but it would be a pain in the arse for you to try and have away with it.
In a library context where we were wanting everyone to know there were PCs for public use invisibility wasn't an option so we needed something conspicuous to put off the scallies and sneak thieves.
Somebody, I can't remember who, pointed me in the direction of a chap called Peter Radcliffe, trading locally as Nexus Computers who sold computer safes. At the time Peter was selling metal computer safes. There was nothing subtle about these: they were made of plate metal and the fittings used to fix them to the furniture were uncompromisingly industrial. They did the job brilliantly. Only one thing bothered me.
Back in those days computers came in three colours: "white" (beige), grey (beige) and beige (grey). Dead boring. About this time Rochdale was in the early stages of a complete refurbishment of nearly all its libraries. The aim was to make them lighter, brighter and more colourful and I wasn't much keen on installing a lot of battleship grey boxes into this bright new landscape. So I asked Peter if they were available in any other colours. He came back with a paint sheet from the metal-bashing shop he was working with.
"I'll have that," I said.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. In gloss finish."
"Can you do it?"
"The customer is always right. We can do it if you really want it. Are you really sure? Really?"
The colour? It was
I got a bit of stick about it. Not least because I hadn't spent any time whatever consulting anyone about it (ordinarily I'd accept a good shin-kicking for that but I only had four months to do a complete implementation of the People's Network from scratch across the whole borough and we had just had the one and only planning meeting where we had spent three hours watching a debate about the position of a chair in a particular library). But I stuck to my guns. Still do, in fact:
- This was aggressively-visible security.
- It fitted in with the bright, colourful feel of the libraries.
- They were an easy visual cue. We hadn't consciously gone in for any branding at that stage but it provided a consistent, obvious "Here be computers" message to the libraries' customers.
If I had my time again would I make that same decision? Dead right I would. And Peter still thinks I was barmy.