Looking at your building’s security practices is an ongoing process. Properly responding to the evolving risks affecting your building is the key to keeping your building and its occupants safe, says Stevan Bernard, a global security advisor for International SOS.
“Every building has different needs. Owners need to understand the trends and risks in the area that may affect safety,” Bernard explains. “It’s the manager’s priority to safeguard people first and property second.”
These trending security solutions could help you improve your security program.
1. Prioritizing Secure Data
“Data is recognized as having such great value to a company that it can’t be compromised,” Bernard says. “If your data’s not secured, somebody’s going to take it and that can cost your company a fortune.”
2. Floor Warden Programs
This security strategy appoints enthusiastic people to assist you with life safety and security exercises for each building floor or department. You’ll drill with them on how to clear their floor during an evacuation and tackle other important roles.
“I had an office building with 1,500 people in it, and in five minutes we had everybody on the street because we had these programs in place and made them work,” explains Bernard. “It’s doable.”
3. Unobtrusive Security Technology
You shouldn’t give up security for convenience, but making your facility look like a faceless security force is always watching isn’t an optimal outcome either. Bernard recommends upgrading access control systems to make sure that you’re keeping out people who want to do harm while not making it unnecessarily difficult for people who belong there to enter.
“When you go into an Apple store, you don’t feel like there’s any security in there, but there is. You just can’t see it,” Bernard says. “People don’t want Big Brother standing around and cameras everywhere. You want ease of access, not a turnstile where you have to stand in line and wait your turn and the card doesn’t work, but you do have to have access control. Layers of security for access control is a big deal.”
4. Performance Standards for Portfolios
Someone in the building has to own the responsibility of enforcing your company’s security standards, and if you’re responsible for a portfolio, you can’t be in every building at once, Bernard says. It’s crucial to develop flexible standards that can apply to every building in your portfolio. Start with any drills or other things you’re legally required to do. Then build in additional best practices from there.
“I had an office building with 1,500 people in it, and in five minutes we had everybody on the street because we had these programs in place and made them work,” explains Stevan Bernard. “It’s doable.”
“They don’t have to be an expert and they can call you if they need a clarification, but you need to have the management team implement your performance standards because you can’t be everywhere,” Bernard adds. “You can even build checklists. For example, when was the last time you did an evacuation drill? What do you do if someone gets stuck in an elevator shaft?”
5. Smart Security Implementation
The layered approach to creating security programs is gaining popularity for a good reason – it works.
Layers of protection are about building in redundant safeguards in people, processes and technology to make sure that the fate of your organization doesn’t come down to one person who may or may not be on the premises during a disaster.
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“Some risks are inherent in older buildings that weren’t designed the right way and now need to be enhanced to provide greater safeguards with layers of protection,” Bernard says. “In multi-tenant buildings, the question is: Who’s responsible for safety? When an incident happens, what do you do? Do you have a crisis plan? Do your tenants have them? What’s the expectation of the building management vs. the tenants? Sitting down and having those conversations is really important so that in the eleventh hour, the heat of the moment, there’s not a lot of finger pointing or indecision because that can cause another series of problems.”
Bernard also recommends bringing on some trustworthy partners to help beef up your security protocol.
- What are nearby buildings doing?
- What do security and facilities management associations recommend?
- What kinds of resources are available for you to audit your own security program?
“Another thing that’s really important is partnering with government agencies, especially fire and police. That’s so that when you call them, you know what to expect when they respond, but they can also help you on the preventive side,” Bernard notes. “Invite them out to do a walkthrough and take a look at your programs. If you listen and communicate well, it’s going to improve the whole environment, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”
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