When it comes to security, a facility’s physical security – the building and surroundings – is always the top responsibility of building owners and managers. And in 2022, the need for physical security may be even greater due to COVID, the Great Resignation, work from home trends, increased employee turnover, and other factors. They are all making it harder for building owners and managers to ensure the safety of their building users.
To address, we suggest the following:
Conduct a Building Security Audit
As part of a re-opening strategy, a building security audit should be one of the first steps taken by building owners and managers. Usually included in an overall facility risk assessment, a building security audit focuses entirely on physical security and looks primarily to see if, for instance, facility entrances, landscaping, interior, and exterior lighting are hindering or helping protect the building and its users.
The security audit may determine, as an example, that some exterior areas are darker than others, creating the opportunity for a potential break-and-enter. It may also indicate where signage needs to be added or improved. Further, a security audit would determine if trees and bushes are too tall or too dense, potentially creating a safety hazard or if there are structural issues that may need addressing to ensure user safety. All of these are more significant concerns in 2022 than in the past because so many facilities have been closed for an extended period.
Install “Smart” Access Systems
The days are ending – even in the most relaxed work environments – when building users can come and go as they please and use almost any area in the facility they want at will. To ensure the safety of all building users, we advise our clients to look into smart access systems. Often controlled by computers or smartphones, these systems work with smart locks to set which facility areas are open or not open to building users. They can also verify who has entered these areas, from parking to building entrances. While the use of smart access systems often sounds overreaching, the need for such systems reflects the security concerns we are facing today. Building owners and managers need to control access to their facilities. It is key to ensuring facility safety.
Update Security Systems Currently Installed.
One of our clients operates a multi-use facility made up of apartments, retail space, and offices. Due to an increase in reported crime in the area, the managers called us to evaluate the security systems they currently had in place. What we found was an eye-opener. For instance, their camera and video surveillance systems were analog. Among the problems with these old systems is that image quality is often poor – as it was in this facility – making face detection difficult. We advised them to switch to digital systems to improve facility safety.
We also found that their emergency and fire safety systems, while meeting local minimum required standards, were far from adequate for a facility this large and with this many users. Their current systems were slow to detect a fire, which could prove very dangerous to building users. Plus, there were no door sensors. These can help notify managers when someone enters or leaves the property and if a door is left ajar. A door left ajar is an open invitation to unsavory characters to cause harm.
In 2022, with COVID, changes in building occupancy levels, and increasingly complex threats to facilities and businesses, it is essential that building owners and managers ensure their properties are safe. A professionally conducted building security audit and risk assessment helps make this possible.
Johnathan Tal is Chief Executive Officer of TAL Global Corporation, an international investigative and security-consulting firm. He served as a Military Field Intelligence Officer for the Israeli Armed Forces during the 1970s. As an intelligence specialist, Tal supervised and initiated behind-enemy-lines intelligence gathering relying on both hardware systems and personnel. Tal has also served as an anti-terrorism security specialist. He is a licensed investigator, former President of WAD (2000-2001) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree. He can be reached through his company website at www.talglobal.com