Situation awareness involves perceiving elements in the environment, comprehending their meaning, and understanding and projecting their status in the near future. Situational awareness and security go hand-in-hand. For example, we use situation awareness every day we drive a car. We perceive our proximity to a yellow light, and when it will change to a red light. If we don’t correctly use situation awareness, our security and our bumper could be compromised and crunched.
Situation awareness involves being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future. On a recent business trip to Cairo Egypt, we practiced a high level of situational awareness and have enjoyed our time here in Cairo.
Situational awareness in Cairo
First, let’s clear up some misconceptions about Cairo. It is a friendly city that prides itself on hospitality. The thing that really amazed me was the Egyptians’ awareness of everything around them. Cairo is a mega city, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with 18 million people living in an area of approximately 133 square miles. In contrast, New York metropolitan area’s population is estimated at 18 million in over 6,720 square miles! The inhabitants of Cairo take this proximity in stride. Drivers in Cairo use a system of flashing their headlights and honking their horns to let other drivers know when they are on the road, and to let pedestrians understand when a driver will stop for them or not. There are few traffic stop lights in Cairo and drivers are alert with high awareness of the flow of traffic, pedestrians, and tourists looking for a taxi cab. J
To increase your situational awareness while traveling, or even at home, here are a few short tips:
1. Be aware of other people’s proximity to you. If someone is quickly moving towards you or away from you, find out why ASAP!
2. Be aware of changes in lighting. We were walking one evening, and we noticed that one street did not have street lights, but all the other ones did. We choose avoid that street.
3. Use your peripheral vision constantly to scan who and what is around you. You will become more aware of people, vehicles, noises and smells around you. You will also be aware if a situation becomes dangerous. If an emergency happens, you will be able to respond sooner.
With good situational awareness, people don’t fall prey social engineering ploys and petty thievery as much. Fine tune your perception skills and increase your situational awareness. It just may save your life one day.