Gardens by the Bay took steps to enhance preparedness under the SGSecure@Workplaces
programme. Through training, drills, robust planning and partnering the community, the management ensures the safety and security for all visitors.
How does one ensure the safety of visitors in a garden attraction? With more than 12 million visitors annually since its inception six years ago, it is essential for Gardens by the Bay to maintain the safety and security of its visitors. Mr Felix Loh, Chief Executive Officer of Gardens by the Bay, shares with us the importance of taking ownership of security and the steps taken to ensure visitors have an enjoyable experience.
Gardens by the Bay is a national garden comprising three distinctive waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central. Spanning 101 hectares, the Gardens is famed for its iconic Supertrees, Cooled Conservatories and series of outdoor themed gardens.
Training to be vigilant and ensuring safety of visitors and staff
“Security keeps me awake. Once the reputation is gone, it is gone.”
– Ms Theresa Foo, founding chairman of Gardens by the Bay.
Constantly mindful of this advice, Mr Felix places security and reputation of the organisation as top priority. Its framework targets the following three areas: alignment with the State’s security effort, engagement with government agencies (e.g. MHA, MINDEF), and readiness of internal stakeholders comprising staff, volunteers, tenants.
“Ensuring the safety of both local and foreign visitors, and staff is our priority. We want to ensure that our staff are adequately prepared for any safety or security-related situation so that they can respond swiftly,” shared Mr Felix Loh.
The first step to being prepared is training. Frontliners, forming about 30% of the staff strength, are sent for training and certification in First Aid, CPR and AED usage. Some were also recently trained at MHA to become in-house trainers for Threat-Oriented Persons Screening Integrated System (TOPSIS). They will be tasked to formulate a customised training programme to train their colleagues on basic profiling and response to suspicious characters. New employees also undergo an induction programme, which includes a briefing on SGSecure and Workplace Safety & Health (WSH) matters by members of the Gardens’ Safety Committee.
The Gardens is currently bizSAFE Level 3 certified, and the organisation encourages staff to attend advanced or specialised training such as “Developing a Risk Management Implementation Plan” (a requirement to qualify for bizSAFE Level 2) to better understand and appreciate safety and security issues. Such issues are also highlighted and discussed in meetings and town hall sessions regularly.
Taking training further, various drills are conducted to ensure that employees are familiarised with their roles. Staff at Gardens by the Bay participate in periodic table-top and ground deployment exercises with SPF, SCDF and SAF, with scenarios ranging from discovery of improvised explosive devices, dealing with armed assailants to hostage situation. In the event of a threat, the priority is to ensure that visitors are guided out of danger areas according to the standard operating procedures that are in place. Ground staff will then provide an assessment of the situation to the authorities upon their arrival.
Such real-time simulations help employees gain better understanding of the operational considerations which they have found it to be an enriching experience. Their latest high-profile exercise involving the Gardens’ Board of Directors, was conducted at the Supertree Grove! Through these exercises and drills, it enables coordination among different groups to ensure the safety of the visitors and the protection of the premise.
“In managing a crisis situation, it takes much coordination within the organisation and also among external agencies.
As an SGSecure Representative, one of the key tasks is to help our staff get acquainted with the SOPs so that they know the appropriate course of action to take when a crisis situation arises.
If everyone is on board, the crisis can be resolved swiftly.”
– Mr Tan Wee Meng, Senior Manager (Security) at Gardens by the Bay
Robust planning and systems to protect the Gardens
Planning is critical for successful simulations to be conducted. Gardens by the Bay’s crisis management plan covers various scenarios, details required responses and follow-up actions. These plans are routinely reviewed and updated to incorporate the latest regional threats.
Having hosted many VVIP events and organised major festivals through the years, the Gardens worked closely with SPF to implement enhanced security measures such as the deployment of armed Auxiliary Police Officers and putting in place Hostile Vehicle Measures. Some of these events include the National Day Reception in 2016 and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit in 2018. To enhance surveillance, the Gardens has a network of CCTV cameras throughout the premise to monitor crowd situation, persons of interests and unattended bags.
In the domain of cybersecurity, the IT team regularly sends out circulars on cyber threats and preventive measures to heighten awareness amongst staff. In addition, dummy phishing emails were also sent to test the alertness of the staff. Security measures also extend to the organisation’s website, which has in place, protocols to guard against hacking and other cyberattacks, as well as a disaster recovery plan to restore the website.
One other threat is the use of vehicles as weapons of attack. To address this, the Gardens installed vehicle barriers such as crash proof bollards to prevent vehicles from crashing into visitors and structures such as the Supertrees.
Vigilance means taking care of one another
Gardens by the Bay is an active member of the Marina-Bayfront Cluster Safety & Security Working Group (SSWG). The SSWG meets quarterly to share updates on safety and security matters. The Gardens’ Security department is in constant contact with SSWG to ensure that live operational updates are disseminated.
The Gardens also has close engagement with the Ministry of Manpower as part of the SGSecure@Workplaces programme, and has been involved in training and engagement sessions organised by the ministry.