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Risk Assessment Key to Building Security


This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is to get a risk assessment to help understand your building security needs.

It's easy to get dazzled by security technology and lose sight of the mission of actually protecting the building.

A complete risk assessment is the most important thing facility managers can do to improve building security, because it ensures that the security system protects against the most likely threats.

The first step in a building risk assessment is identifying the nature and operations of the building. For example, consider the business impacts if a building suddenly isn't operational anymore. Then develop appropriate safeguards.

Also consider incorporating data from government sources, such as the Department of Homeland Security. Working with local agencies and police is also a key step.

The risk assessment can lead to a building being assigned a score. That score can then drive the selection of security applications used in the building — whether the building requires access control, video, intrusion alarms or other equipment.

Other organizations rate buildings based on major, moderate and lesser risks depending on a building's operation and what is stored in the building. For example, a building that houses chemicals or gas would be a major-risk building.

Remember that a risk assessment is never complete — it's an ongoing, sometimes reactive task. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many facility managers revisited their security plans and implemented new procedures and technologies.

Responding to an escalated threat level — as indicated by the national color coded system — became a key consideration for many facility managers. But beyond the threat of World Trade Center-like tragedies, the post-9/11 culture of heightened alert for terror threats got facility managers thinking more about their security situations as a whole.

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