Update Your Building’s Security Assessment

10/05/2010 | By Michael Fickes

Update Your Building’s Security Assessment

Does it seem overly cautious to update a building’s security assessment every year? Security professionals find that the threats and vulnerabilities facing a commercial building can change dramatically during a single year. New tenants, terrorism targets, and layoffs could increase the potential of risks. Even improvements in security technologies and guard techniques can change your security profile.  

Security taken seriously can provide two good results. First, it can help lower the risk that something will happen in your building. Second, if an incident occurs, security can provide an expert, appropriate response that mitigates the effects. Without an up-to-date security assessment, the only force that can bring about either of those good results is luck.

“The goal of security is to lower the risks that you face,” says Kevin Doss, PSP, CPP, MS, president of Level 4 Security, LLC. “Before you can lower the risks, you have to know what they are. That’s what a security assessment will tell you.”

What Has Changed About Your Property Since Last Year?

To update a building’s security assessment, a consultant will study the existing assessment, if any, along with a crime report on the area. He or she will keep that information in mind while inspecting the building inside and out. “The field work begins at the exterior perimeter — the property line,” Doss says. “Working back toward the building, I look for hiding places, dark areas, and areas overgrown with vegetation.

Consultants evaluate the parking lot or garage and loading dock. Closer to the building, they look at barriers and turnstiles or gates that manage access. The types of doors and locking system will also be assessed. Does the building use a keyed or electronic locking system? What about the windows on the first and second floors? Do they have bars? Internally, areas that might require video surveillance are examined.

“I ask tenants for summaries of personnel records covering threats they may face,” Doss says. “Have there been incidents of workplace violence or thefts? It is important to look at non-criminal events – such as civil protests, holiday events that bring people to the area, and work stoppages – to look for security threats.”

Consultants also investigate the building’s contractors and vendors. Is the janitorial service known for causing problems? Are the local delivery services trustworthy? “People that regularly come into your building may pose threats,” Doss says. “Of course, they may not, but you have to look into it.”

Why Not Do It Yourself?

You can do your own security assessment, as long as you know what to look for. Do you know, for instance, how to meter the light in the parking lot or garage? A trained Physical Security Professional (PSP) takes readings every ten to 20 feet, looking for uniform coverage at certain light levels while evaluating the type of light.

Low-pressure sodium lamps do not work well with cameras at night. Metal halide lamps, however, provide the right quality of light for video. In addition, most video cameras today switch from color to black and white at night because black and white images are better in low light conditions. But if the light level in the garage or around the perimeter of the building is too high, the cameras won’t switch and color images may be unclear.

Certified security practitioners understand and use these and many other concepts every day. PSPs like Doss are qualified to conduct physical security surveys and to design, install, operate, or maintain integrated security systems. While you can conduct your own form of assessment on your property, a trained PSP will ensure a thorough examination. 

Is Your Security System Up to Par?

A security assessment or an update identifies threats to your building, vulnerabilities, and the effectiveness of the current security system in protecting people and property. In skilled hands, it is a security map that will lead to a system capable of carrying out the five tasks basic to any effective security system:

·         Deter security problems by making the building look like a difficult and unattractive target.

·         If deterrence fails, the system will detect the problem quickly.

·         Allow for the quick assessment of the problem.

·         Prevent the situation from growing worse.

·         Finally, the system will respond in an appropriate way.

A security assessment builds a system that carries out these tasks. Updating your security assessment modifies the existing system to accommodate changes that have occurred in the past year, giving you an advantage for the future.

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