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Variety of Building Vulnerabilities May Pose Security Challenges


In considering the many safety and security challenges in multi-tenant office buildings, property managers also need to pay close attention to elements of the building that may be especially vulnerable.

"The back-of-house functions like the loading dock, delivery entrance, and garage often present vulnerabilities that are not adequately addressed," says Raymond Kelly, president of risk management services for Cushman & Wakefield and former longtime New York City police commissioner. "There are new electronic systems that can help building managers get better control of these functions."

Bill Criticos, general manager of three Philadelphia buildings, including two 40-story structures, for Brandywine Realty Trust, notes that at those buildings, the security level can be ramped up or down depending on the Homeland Security threat assessment. "We're currently at a very low threat level, so we allow trucks to pull right into our loading dock," he says. "But they have to be on an access list to go up to the tenant." If the threat level goes up, a security guard will stop trucks on the street, find out if they're on the access list, and if not, keep them away from the building until the tenant OKs the delivery.

"We have a public garage downstairs, which means people can pull in off the street," Criticos says. "If we ramped up our security, we'd go to monthlies only."

Add in a retail component, with shops and stores in the same office building, and you create more vulnerability. The big challenge there, says Amy Lind, senior vice president for Transwestern, "is maintaining security separation between traffic in the building and actual office traffic, keeping the traffic flowing and not stagnating." In that situation, it's essential to ensure that only tenants and their visitors have access to the elevators, including freight elevators. "We do a lot of card-access turnstiles, so there's an actual physical barrier, with guards watching as well."

She emphasizes the importance of a well-trained staff that is familiar with the building and normal traffic patterns. "[You want] stability with your security staff — people who really know your occupants so they can kind of spot someone who doesn't really belong," she says.

Kelly notes the challenge of retail space, conference facilities, or public access areas putting a large transient population into a building. "In these cases," he says, "visitor pre-registration is a necessity in order to avoid lobby crowding and a possible security breach."

Today’s tip comes from Ronald Kovach.

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