Assess Vulnerabilities When Planning Security

  July 19, 2011

This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is to take a hard look at what needs to be protected when planning security.

For all that facility managers do to provide a safe environment for the occupants in their buildings, not all security initiatives are as effective as they could be. Common mistakes waste time and money and actually undermine the efforts being made to improve building safety. But understanding those mistakes is the first step in avoiding them.

The process used to implement security solutions is often backwards. David Aggleton, president of security consulting firm Aggleton & Associates, says the starting point should be an analysis of the security needs. Too often, the facility manager figures that what's needed is a certain piece of technology, such as a CCTV system, without taking the time to identify the assets that need protecting or to understand the threats they face. The result? The chosen solution isn't effective.

When it comes time to identify assets, it's not unusual to find that some critical ones have been overlooked. To be sure, most facility managers will include the occupants and equipment housed in a building within their definition of an asset. However, they often overlook vital, but less tangible assets, such as an organization's brand or image.

And while terrorism often is top of mind, most buildings face greater threats from more mundane dangers, like a co-worker who becomes violent or an employee who walks off with a laptop.

After the assets and threats have been identified, it's time to consider security measures. Effective security depends on a combination of three elements: technology, architecture, and operations or policies, says William Sako, chair of Sako & Associates security consulting firm. Security solutions that rely too heavily on one element will be less effective than solutions that incorporate a balance of the three.

For instance, it's not unusual to find a building equipped with turnstyles, but without staff to make sure everyone uses them. Conversely, a facility manager may station a security guard at an entry, without providing a way, such as ID cards, to identify those entering the facility. That means the guard has no way of knowing who's supposed to be there.


Read next on FacilitiesNet