An integral part of an effective security protocol is the appropriate use of security systems, equipment, and applicable technology.
“It’s important to understand that there must be an integrated approach to the use of security systems and security operations,” says Robert Koverman, a senior consultant at SAKO & Associates, Arlington Heights, IL. “In today’s business world, proactive and integrated security practices are crucial to a company’s success.”
A recent survey, commissioned by the Washington, D.C.-based Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and Urban Land Institute (ULI), showed that the security measures most widely used before September 11 included building alarm monitors, lobby security controls, surveillance cameras, and employee background checks.
After 9/11, the single security upgrade most frequently used by survey respondents was tighter vendor security. Respondents reported they have established requirements for vendor identification, vendor check-in, and requests that vendors perform employee background checks within their own operations.
That’s not to say companies aren’t upgrading their security technology, too. Here’s a look at some other security technologies in use today:
Access Control Systems
These systems provide protection by establishing identity verification at designation locations, usually at the perimeter of a building or at entrances to sensitive rooms or areas.
Biometrics. This technology verifies identity by measuring certain human characteristics. Systems include fingerprint scans, hand geometry, retina or iris scans, facial recognition, voice recognition, and handwriting or signature recognition.
Card Access. Technology in this category can range from exceptionally simplistic systems to complex technology. Some of the technology includes:
Basic bar coding, which is similar to the scanning system found on grocery products.
Magnetic stripe cards, which have similar technology to that used on credit cards.
Proximity cards, which use a radio frequency that creates recognition when the card is placed in close proximity to the card reader.
Smart cards, which use an imbedded memory chip that’s integrated with other kinds of access control technology.
Keypad Entry Systems. This “punch-pad” format requires users to enter a personal code or personal identification number (PIN) to gain access. Keypad systems are typically used in conjunction with some type of card access system.
Barriers. Growing in popularity, this approach involves the use of such equipment as turnstiles and revolving doors and is best used, according to Koverman, in partnership with a card access system.
Intrusion Detection Systems
These systems are used to alert a security department to possible incidents. Once alerted, they can follow a prescribed set of procedures for reaction.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). A mainstay of an integrated system, this technology is used to monitor activity throughout a building, either covertly or within plain view. It’s ideal for use in entryways, exits, stairwells, loading docks, or security-sensitive areas that require constant monitoring. One thing to keep in mind with respect to CCTV is that all data must be closely monitored and carefully stored, ranging from basic recording equipment that’s similar to home VHS systems to more sophisticated digital storage technology.
Electronic Intrusion Detection. These systems are designed to identify a security breach through doors, windows, roofs, skylights, external ventilation intake units, or movement through rooms or corridors. They typically run on a control panel connected to a sensing device. When a security event occurs, the sensor transmits a signal to the control panel, which then sends an alert signal to security personnel. Examples of intrusion detection systems include motion detectors, magnetic door contacts, duress alarms, and vibration and sonic detection.
“These systems, although noted separately, are best used when integrated with one another,” says Koverman, when discussing both CCTV and electronic intrusion detection systems.
Since 9/11, some buildings also are installing detection technology in addition to other security systems, Koverman notes. Such systems include walk-through metal detectors at strategic entry points to a building and X-ray machines. However, statistics from the BOMA/ULI survey show that perimeter barriers were cited as the least common security practice prior to 9/11 and that less than 6 percent of respondents added barriers after the attacks.
While technology contributes to an enhanced security presence, you need to take further internal steps beyond installing a good system, Koverman says. “An effective program involves the use of well-trained security personnel, educated employees, and the development of well-thought-out security plans and procedures,” he says. “This integrated approach also mandates periodic drills to test the effectiveness of security plans and procedures.”