Astute facilities managers have always looked to security professionals for guidance on how to protect the individuals in their buildings, as well as the organization’s property and vital information. The increased possibility of terrorist attacks only intensifies the need to consult with the experts.One of the most beneficial actions a facilities manager can take is authorizing a top-to-bottom security audit conducted by a qualified industry professional. Such an assessment will: 1. Identify potential threats or “soft targets” that might not otherwise be recognized.2. Result in recommending the best, most cost-efficient methods and technologies to harden these targets and protect the facility and its people.A security audit can often identify potentially devastating threats that were not even on facilities managers’ radar screens a few years ago. For example, today’s managers need to be concerned about such possibilities as chemical, biological, and even nuclear terrorism. There are many ways chemical or biological agents can spread throughout a building that one wouldn’t normally have considered a risk a few years ago. This potential threat needs to be considered, and methods must be developed to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences – or to minimize the damage if such an event does occur.Furthermore, the audit would determine and recommend the fastest, safest ways to evacuate the facility.More R&D, More Advanced TechnologiesThe current intensified concern over terrorist threats has spurred many companies to invest increasing amounts in “security R&D.” An example of this might be employing technologies that can identify airborne chemical or biological agents, while integrating the new technology with the building management system (BMS).This new emphasis on R&D, along with an increasing rate of security assessments, has resulted in more and more facilities adopting new, high-tech security solutions. In electronic access control, some of the leading-edge technologies in use today include smart cards and biometrics, such as retinal, fingerprint, and hand scanners, as well as facial recognition technology.Penny-Wise and Pound-FoolishCosts and budgeting are always important considerations for facilities managers. Some companies are highly cost-conscious when it comes to security, and often do not implement the most effective solutions because of inadequate budgets. Other companies are more generous with their security budgets, allowing these firms to conduct more security R&D and to implement more advanced facility-protection solutions.It is important for building owners and facilities managers to be wary of undercutting their own security efforts by under-spending. While costs need always be considered, spending less does not always mean getting the best value. That’s because the newer technologies, though they may require a higher initial outlay, quite often not only provide better security, but also may do so in a more cost-effective manner.Often, too, a security audit will recommend lower-tech or less-costly solutions as the most effective in given situations. Thus, consulting a security professional can help to develop and implement the solutions that will do the job in the best and most cost-effective way.A commitment to cost-effective new technologies is important for another reason; after technologies have been in the marketplace for a time, more and more individuals are familiar with them, and have often developed ways of defeating or circumventing them.Donald Skorka is senior vice president at Custom Design Communications, a voice and data design, installation, and maintenance firm, headquartered in
New York City. For more information, contact ([email protected]).