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FM Issue: Cutting Perimeter Security Corners

Written by FM Issue Contributor. Posted in Exteriors, FM Issue, In-Depth Articles, Magazine, Security, Topics

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Published on August 24, 2011 with No Comments

Image: Thinkstock

Image: Thinkstock

By Barry K. Willingham
Published in the August 2011 issue of
Today’s Facility Manager

Confidence is a term that would seem to have a significant place in every discussion about perimeter security. But more often it is a term only associated with the drive towards hitting a budget number, not accomplishing the task of mitigating risk exposure.

Fiscal responsibility is a key component of a facility manager’s (fm’s) purchasing decision. But when it becomes the primary consideration, it sets the stage for taking ineffective actions in implementing appropriate measures. This behavior fuels the supply side to deliver non-performing protection products that are do not comply with industry standards compliance and are installed by companies that are not only unqualified, but that have little concern for the operability or long-term service the systems are expected to provide.

Parking Lot Security
Tips and tricks every facility professional should know
By Tom Asp

When companies look to ensure the security and safety of their employees, often their first thoughts are about the place where employees spend the most time—their offices or the main building. Crucial to any comprehensive security plan, however, is making sure the area where employees are perhaps most vulnerable is also properly protected—the parking lot or parking garage.

Whether an expansive surface lot or multi-story garage, parking facilities are more likely to be the setting of a crime than any other type of location outside of a residence. These facilities are open, accessible areas where controlling access is nearly impossible—and most certainly not economically feasible. So how can fms make sure security and safety measures are up to date in parking facilities? Here are some key points to consider.

Landscaping: In a surface lot, shrubbery and trees might be attractive additions to facilities, but all landscaping elements should remain low to the ground, minimizing the ability for someone to use them as a hiding place after dark. Fms must keep in mind that all landscaping must be continually maintained and pruned—even a small bush can become a large one given enough time.

Lighting: This is perhaps the most important deterrent to crime in a parking facility. Because improperly placed lighting can affect a driver’s ability to see properly at night, lighting should be placed, where possible, at uniform distances and over rows of parked cars (not directly over drive paths). Fixtures should be vandal proof, reliable, and easy to maintain. In some cases, the walls or other areas of a garage can be whitewashed or painted a light color to reflect natural light and increase overall illumination within the facility.

Video surveillance: Installing cameras can be both a highly effective visible deterrent as well as an important tool in identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting a perpetrator. Cameras should also be mounted as high as possible to be out of reach from vandals and to be able to see over sport utility vehicles and other obstacles. Fms should consider a mix of pan, tilt, zoom cameras that can be used to see many different areas of the facility. These units should be used in conjunction with a fixed or IP megapixel camera that continually monitors entrances and exits to identify vehicles as well as specific license plates for identification purposes.

Emergency mass notification: These systems are particularly useful in areas where severe weather events, such as tornadoes, are common. If an employee or patron is entering a parking lot during such an event, the emergency notification device can direct him or her to a specific part of the parking area for shelter. These systems also can broadcast pre-recorded or live messages in the event of an emergency situation inside the adjoining building, alerting the individual that it is not safe to enter.

Emergency call boxes: These devices should be strategically placed in well lit areas (near an exit stairwell in a parking structure, for instance) or centrally located in a surface lot. Typically, the call boxes will be recognizable to employees and visitors because of the blue light, signifying help in an emergency. Cameras in facilities should be set to view and record the blue light box automatically any time it is activated.

Even small steps can enhance the security of facilities. Well placed signage can help direct employees and visitors in and out of the facility more quickly, making them less vulnerable targets. If applicable, fms can consider adding signage that indicates the area is under video surveillance as an added deterrent. Also, ensuring that the surroundings are free of litter and graffiti can elevate the perception that the facility is well maintained and secure.

Fms should also be aware of any applicable local building codes (such as light pole heights or landscaping requirements) that might restrict certain elements of parking lot design. Security experts can often assist with these matters.

Asp is the president of the board of directors of Security-Net, a global provider of security integration services. Security-Net is comprised of 50 regional offices and 1,500 security professionals positioned across the U.S., Canada, and abroad.

This is a situation where the economic challenges that are affecting almost every business globally are becoming the directional compass on how fms are planning to protect critical assets and personnel. They must also define how they are going to do it within a budget that is usually out of alignment with the desired result.

ASIS 2011 Prepares Practitioners To Anticipate The Unexpected
By Ray O’Hara, CPP

Security professionals are preparing to meet at ASIS 2011 in Orlando, FL, from September 19 to 22, 2011. This year’s program will offer attendees more than 200 educational sessions across 22 tracks along with networking opportunities through many special events including receptions and luncheons.

(ISC)2, the largest not for profit membership body of certified information security professionals worldwide, will co-locate its first annual (ISC)2 Security Congress with ASIS 2011. General education sessions, networking events, and the exhibit floor are open to registered attendees for either event.

In addition to the expanded programming for information security professionals, ASIS will introduce a new educational track for security systems integrators. The track’s featured sessions are focused on specific vertical sectors and are designed to provide insight into the security requirements and demands within each sector.

ASIS certification reviews will be offered from September 16 to 17 for the Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Professional Certified Investigator (PCI), and Physical Security Professional (PSP) examinations. On September 17 to 18, a series of (ISC)2 credential clinics are scheduled (CISSP®, CSSLP®, CAP®, and SSCP®), as well as an official two day review seminar for both CSSLP and CISSP.

Keynote speakers are former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush (Tuesday, September 20 at 8 a.m.) and former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (Wednesday, September 21 at 8 a.m.). Entrepreneur and visionary Burt Rutan will address attendees at the closing luncheon.

From the informal to the formal, security professionals will find numerous opportunities for networking at ASIS 2011. The week’s special events kick off with the popular ASIS Foundation Golf Tournament on Sunday, September 18 and close with a luncheon on Thursday, September 22 where engineer, entrepreneur, and adventurer, Rutan will share his enthusiastic vision.

Several casual networking receptions, including those for first time attendees, new members, young professionals, and general attendees, will be held on Sunday, September 18 at the convention center. Hosted networking luncheons on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, September 19 to 21, set the stage for practitioners to connect face to face and exchange ideas with peers.

On Monday, September 19, ASIS will host the President’s Reception at Universal’s Islands of Adventure®. The entire theme park is reserved for one of the biggest parties ASIS has ever thrown. Attendees will enjoy food and beverages, entertainment, and unlimited access to incredible rides and attractions.

Wednesday, September 21 is Law Enforcement/Military Appreciation Day. Active law enforcement and military professionals are invited to attend the keynote and educational sessions on this day and to visit the exhibit floor at no charge.

Not “How Much Does It Cost?” But “Why Should We Do This?”

The question most often ignored in the current economic climate is “Why are we doing this?” Once a manager can candidly address why the company is investing resources towards securing its facility, it will dramatically change the approach to the thought process of how fms plan on accomplishing this and with what technology and methodology.

There are countless facilities that have numerous physical security technologies deployed. Many of these technologies have been turned off because they either do not function as expected (due to lack of training or deficiency in quality), or they are too much trouble to operate as a result of poor design engineering or lack of definition in terms of installation criticality. They may also be too expensive to maintain because the systems break down frequently—a direct reflection of poor quality combined with haphazard installation.

Unfortunately, many of today’s perimeter technologies are engineered solutions which have never been tested in actual stressed conditions; instead, they are designed to address a general price point. Whether or not the systems will actually perform to prevent an undesired event is often left in the hands of a person or company whose primary objective is to make a sale. The unspoken wish is that the system is never called into duty.

Asking The Right Questions

The subject of security will forever be a challenging topic. It’s a discussion often fueled by fear with an ambiguous demonstration of Return on Investment (certainly not one that could be published in the company’s financial reports). When facility resources are invested to mitigate an external security concern or threat and nothing happens, it is often seen as a waste of company funds. This is because we did not answer the question, “Why did we do this in the first place?”

Complex decisions charged by emotional uncertainties are best addressed in a direct fashion. If fms think in a straight line, it may be easier for them to start asking the hard—but essential—questions:

  • Why is it critical for our company to implement these perimeter security systems?
  • How will we accomplish this using tested technologies supported with documented evidence of compliance with industry standards?
  • What evidence must we rely on to be convinced that this security initiative will be installed by a competent professional who holds submitted evidence of past performance, credentials, and financial dependability?
  • What evidence is there that this company can execute the scope of work with the ultimate objective to deliver a system that is reliable and performs as a direct response to why we made this investment?

Political pressures to do something to demonstrate the company cares about perimeter security are bridled by the growing financial pressures of the current economic environment. The result, many times, is a mismatched group of products, most of which are designed under the performance premise of “good enough.” These solutions meet no industry standards, are installed by a contractor who bid the project for less than the materials cost, and will eventually lay dormant because they cease to function or don’t operate as originally expected.

Industry standards and test method credentials are valid tools to guide fms thought processes towards the development of exterior security systems that inspire confidence. But it is up to fms to choose to employ these standards and methods. Fms must work to redefine what “right” looks like by working against the budgetary pressures and answering the hard questions.

Willingham is president of Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, providers of facility access control such as active vehicle barriers, guard shelters, high security fencing, bollards, barrier walls, signs and signals, and card readers.


About FM Issue Contributor

Facility management related issues are often in the news. This monthly feature examines some of the more abstract, non-product concepts and challenges facility managers face in that regard. For more FM Issues, visit this link.

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