Strategic Security Over the Years

Feb. 7, 2006

As the editorial staff at Buildings continues to pore over 100 years of history as a publication to the commercial and institutional buildings market, we discover insightful articles of operational excellence, advertising that provides a panoramic perspective about evolving (but now standard or obsolete) technology as it made industry news, and a bird’s-eye view of architectural landmarks as they were undergoing construction. With an eye to this month’s cover story on security, we found the following to compare and contrast:

  • In Buildings’ 25th-anniversary year - 1931 - as Buildings and Building Management, the only security-related article was “A ‘Bobby’ at the Door.” It stated: “One of the several novel features that [has] attracted the attention of New Yorkers to the London Terrace Apartments, the huge new development of the Henry Mandel Cos., is the uniforms of the doormen. The doormen are dressed, in keeping with the name of the development, in the uniform of the London ‘bobby.’ ... The watchmen who patrol this apartment colony also have an English aspect, though their uniforms would look much more business-like to the American prowler than would the bobby’s cape.” It would appear that security was handled by personnel who were literally adorned in picturesque uniforms, began each shift with a “changing of the guard” ceremony, and who provided some watchfulness over building occupants but were recognized for their ability to entertain and add advertising value.
  • In contrast, 1981 - 50 years later and merely 25 years ago - Buildings still dedicated minimal editorial content to security concerns and objectives. In “Skyscraper Security Systems” (May 1981), a security expert identified motion-detection systems as cutting-edge; described a building guard as having “fingertip control of security functions,” including access control and CCTV; and mentioned “an apartment phone system [that] controls visitor entry.” I recall that year - my first at Buildings - as the first of many that followed where security assessments and security management programs and initiatives could have been (kindly) called “reactive.”

  • Fast-forward to today - 2006 - and you’ll find that Buildings dedicates some portion of each issue to security topics. As Contributing Editor Robin Suttell explains in this month’s cover story, “the tragic events of [9/11] spurred increased vigilance and security measures in commercial facilities nationwide. ... The U.S. building industry has become much more aware of what it takes to create a good security management program, but the question of what’s necessary vs. what is too much still remains.”

Although we’ve made great strides in prioritizing security in today’s facilities, much is yet to be learned, shared, tweaked, and fine-tuned. What we do know, however, is that the safety and care of our buildings’ most precious assets - people - deserve our utmost and diligent attention.

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