Analyzing the Technological Security Components: Lessons from October 7th

A renewed discussion is required regarding the extent of reliance on technological systems as part of Israel's security concept. Guest author, Retired Police Major General Boaz Gilad, explains

Photo: IDF website

For years technology has been taking an increasingly central place in almost every area of our lives. Particularly striking is the acceleration of technological systems integration and means into the conventional working methods in the IDF and other security agencies, and rely on them in routine. Now, after the major failure on October 7th, there are those calling to return and rely much more on human capabilities and the human factor, and not only on "technological capabilities".

However, it should be emphasized that the failures that led to the difficult outcome, both strategically and tactically, did not stem from problems with the technology itself, but from the way it was used. Alongside the misconception regarding the enemy's capabilities and main intentions, there was also a misconception regarding the technological systems in the lack of necessary attention to maintaining resilience and operational continuity of the technological means and components as a critical module in defense. It is no coincidence that the attack on that cursed Saturday began with Hamas terrorists paralyzing the IDF's observation, communication, and command and control capabilities along the borderline, which they then breached more easily immediately after.

To ensure effective and proper use of technology in general and in security contexts in particular, two basic assumptions must exist. The first one - technological systems, as advanced as they may be, do not replace human discretion. It can assist and support decision-making processes, but not completely replace them. The second - a technological system that constitutes significant support for an activity must also be characterized by functional continuity over time, in other words, be protected, resilient, and up to date against various and dynamic threats and scenarios from the opponent, whether it's in the military, security, or criminal field.

Proper, proactive, and up-to-date use of technology must play a crucial role in early threat detection and warning, including real-time information analysis and filtering of "background noise", to enable more efficient decision-making. For example, integrating artificial intelligence systems makes it possible to identify and point out unusual patterns in advance that may indicate offensive or malicious intentions. Proper and judicious integration of these capabilities with human judgment will ensure synergy that will allow better coping with threats in their early stages.

The events of October 7th brought the sense of personal security of Israel's citizens to an all-time low and illustrated how preparedness is required not only from security agencies and first responders but also personal and community preparedness for extreme situations and disaster scenarios, not just in frontier or confrontation communities. An analysis of needs and gaps formulated in the "Standing Together" group after the outbreak of the war shows that in the coming years, we are likely to see an increasing demand for advanced, high-quality, and diverse technological solutions in security fields of the civilian, public and personal space, as well as ensuring communities resilience.

The State of Israel will need a wide range of more effective alternatives and solutions than in the past, in aspects of communication, intelligence, surveillance, and area holding, as well as advanced and proactive solutions for protection, both on a personal and household level, and on a public and community level.

In addition to passive protective components against traditional kinetic threats, future solutions must also include components that address challenges of communication, clean air exchange, intrusion prevention, delay and repulsion of potential attackers, and passive, active, and concealed sensors, whether for permanent or temporary activation.

There is an increasing need for command-and-control systems that allow various civilian and security forces to maintain a continuous and up-to-date situational picture in the area, manage forces, identify them, and even prevent friendly fire while controlling operations of medical teams, rescue and evacuation teams, police and other authorized community officials.

The events of October 2023 illustrated the constant need to challenge worldviews and reference scenarios while maintaining the relevance of technology and adapting it to the enemy's capabilities. However, there is an obligation to maintain a constant balance between the technological response and human judgment so that no single component can exist on its own. A proper understanding of the capabilities and limitations of each component will make it possible to generate a more holistic and balanced response to the security and civil challenges that lie ahead.

Written by Retired Major General Boaz Gilad. Formerly a senior official with the ISA and the Israel National Police, he is now CEO of the "Standing Together" Group promoting the implementation of advanced technologies in the civilian field, and a researcher at the Institute for Personal Security and Community Resilience Studies at the Western Galilee Academy.

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