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Commercial Properties Reflect on 9/11 Impact

Nov. 16, 2011

Nearly 90% of facilities professionals feel their buildings are better prepared for an emergency than prior to 9/11. A survey conducted by IFMA found that the majority of properties have emergency evacuation procedures, crisis communication, and disaster recovery plans in place.

Commercial real estate professionals are also tracking changes to industry practices after 9/11. Jones Lang LaSalle’s property management experts note that a deep commitment to enhanced risk management and emergency preparedness still exists today.

“I believe that the attitudes of most property managers and owners remain in a heightened security state, but the fact is many security budgets have decreased over time,” says Mark Anderson, national security liaison for Jones Lang LaSalle and senior security director at 71 S. Wacker in Chicago.

The need to protect a property extends widely from acts of terrorism and workplace violence to natural events such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Advancements in technology, such as electronic visitor management systems and surveillance systems with alarm functions, have helped to mitigate risk.

Despite technology’s pivotal role in enhancing risk management and emergency preparedness, Anderson warns that technology has also created security challenges, particularly the overwhelming amount of information about properties and security measures that anyone can access via the Internet alone.

“Technology is not the end-all solution,” he said. “Security needs to be dynamic, layered, and multidisciplinary. That way, if the technology is bypassed, the human element of a security operation will be able to compensate for the technology’s shortfalls.”

IFMA responders also called attention to common obstacles to implementing emergency planning. “It is still difficult to engage the average employee on matters of preparedness and security under ‘normal’ operating conditions,” says one survey participant. “The further away we get from an emergency situation, the more resistance there is to preparation, drills, and recruitment of volunteers.”

Regardless of your organization’s structure or risk potentials, one IFMA respondent offers the following advice: “Find the best information available, get the support of top management, help your people implement the plan, keep practicing the plan, and make adjustments as needed to keep it effective.”

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