Conducting a Security Assessment to Reduce Facility Risks

A security assessment is needed because facilities face endless security risks that threatens the security of people and property. These risks can vary considerably, and some are unique to different types of facilities. Some properties may need weaponry detection like a gun detection system and some may need a standard video surveillance system installed.

For instance, hospitals today have many specific security concerns that would not be shared with, for example, a commercial office building. While most medical facilities are trying to remain open to visitors and family members as much as possible during the COVID pandemic, many are now regulating the number of visitors to the hospital or banning them entirely. Not only because hospitals are crowded with COVID patients, but they are finding that the tension on the streets of America has found its way into their medical facilities in one form or another.

This situation is being repeated in all types of facilities. To protect people and property, among the items a security assessment would investigate are the following:

Site Information. A facility located in a heavy crime area, for instance, may be more of a target for break-ins, burglaries, vandalism, street unrest, and other unsavory activity than one located in an area with less crime. But site information would also investigate such things as emergency response issues. How quickly can emergency personnel arrive at a property should there be a threat? Consider the facility’s distance from major roadways, typical traffic patterns, and clearly visible signage.

Site appearance. Facilities that are not well-maintained often attract more crime. This is one reason many police departments recommend that building owners/managers remove graffiti as soon as it is discovered. Graffiti on a property tends to attract more graffiti. Further, if the property appears to be neglected, it could also become a target for vandalism and problematic activity.

Management Policies. Does the organization have steps in place to deal with a security breach? In today’s world, this would include not only violations such as break-ins or robberies but also shootings or terrorism. Always remember the following: anything that can happen just about anywhere can happen in your building. Because of this, you need to have plan in place to protect people and property.

Emergency Preparedness. Practices and plans must be in place not only to handle crime situations or the threat of crime, but to handle weather emergencies like tornadoes, earthquakes, power failures and lockdown conditions. Are drills established and practiced for such situations? Are evacuation plans posted? Do people understand what is expected should there be a lockdown? (See Sidebar: What’s a Lockdown?)

Physical Security. Physical security typically starts at the front door, and often before anyone even reaches the front door of a property. In some cases, a change of a door is needed, with companies such as being used to help do this. Is the property gated? Gated properties tend to be safer than those that are not gated. Must building users and visitors check in with door people when entering the property? Do building users have identification badges with them or go through metal detectors when entering the property? With COVID, are technologies in place to monitor the temperatures of large numbers of people entering the facility?

Outdoor Security. Are there hidden areas around the facility that might invite crime? Is the property adequately well-lit at night? Are high definition “smart” cameras installed as well as “zero-light” camera systems? Smart cameras are triggered by movement. Zero-light cameras can take crystal clear images day or night.

Access control. How easy is it for staffers as well as vendors to enter the building, day or night? What protective measures are in place and how often are these measures updated? Larger commercial facilities in major cities often have several access control measures in place. However, facilities in less populated suburban areas may have very few. Remember what we said earlier, “anything that can happen just about anywhere can happen in your building.”

Cyber Security. The migration to remote work was born of necessity. But it happened so quickly that many IT professionals did not have time to implement data security programs that would allow staffers and their employers to work together safely and securely from home. Cyber security, always an issue, is even more of a concern today. Steps like mobile application testing must be taken to ensure remote workers can interface freely and securely with corporate databases and information sources.

Crisis Communications. Managers need to know whom they must call and what steps they must take in case of an emergency. Failing to act promptly and properly in a crisis can put people and property assets at greater risk. Further, lack of a communication strategy often increases the likelihood of lawsuits, job loss, profit loss, fractured employee morale, and loss of trust in an organization and a facility.

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Sidebar: What’s a Lockdown?

The name says it all. A lockdown is when every door, window, and other access point in or out of a facility is locked. This could also include turning off elevators, escalators, building mechanicals, etc. While lockdowns can occur due to storms and other acts of nature, they most commonly occur when there is profoundly serious crime happening, such as a shooting or the possibility of a shooting. The goal is to make sure everyone in the facility stays put until emergency personnel arrive and provide direction.

© TAL Global, 2019