Security issues are reaching ever deeper into facilities of all sizes. It’s not that smaller facilities only now have begun to consider ways to protect occupants and operations. But recent developments — along with the ongoing heightened state of awareness — demonstrate that pressing decisions about safety and security are no longer reserved for large, high-profile facilities.
One startling security development is a report in August from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that terrorists might be planning attacks of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals as alternatives to more heavily guarded U.S. military installations. Also, earlier in the month, department officials warned five organizations that their facilities in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., were potential targets of terrorists.
While these latter facilities are large, urban and high-profile, the warning is a reminder that, if intelligence data is accurate, terrorists can specifically target any facility, large or small, anywhere.
A quick scan of the headlines shows that smaller organizations are responding. A 246-bed medical center in Idaho opts for in-house security personnel instead of a contractor as part of a two-year upgrade of its security overhaul. A growing number of smaller airports across the country are installing closed-circuit television and access-control systems to thwart potential threats.
Security issues involve not just products but people. While larger institutions and organizations often have enough resources to devote one person to coordinating security activities, many organizations must rely on a team of existing managers to assess risks and make decisions on buying and installing new security measures.
This situation presents an opportunity for maintenance and engineering managers. Because managers have deep and wide knowledge of building components and systems, they can provide important insights into specifying security-system components that perform as intended.
The opportunity means taking on more responsibility, but managers won’t find a better place to devote their time and energy.