Securing premises: advice to keep your business safe

In recent years an increasing chunk of companies’ corporate security or business continuity budget has been spent on maintaining back-up sites where data can be stored or from which the business could be run in an emergency.

However, security consultants point out that risk management begins at home with measures to safeguard company headquarters, branches, factories and greenfield sites.

For new buildings, once the nature of the risks to the business has been assessed, this means careful planning of the layout and configuration of the site or office and security professionals should be part of the process.

“Security needs to be incorporated at the earliest possible stage,” says Paul Burry, a senior consultant at Control Risks which advises clients on their physical security measures.

“In project teams security should be in there from the start - and it should not be the retro-fit or the bolt on later.”

The most obvious areas for consideration, say security consultants, are all points of entry and exit - and not only in terms of the access control systems and turnstiles used to prevent the entry of unwanted people.

Other attacks may be in the form of packages delivered to buildings so the goods arriving at corporate premises also need to be monitored very carefully.

While X-ray and chemical detection is becoming more common, the risks posed to a business from such threats can also be reduced if, for example, the mail room is located away from the main building or even at a separate off site facility.

“We see a lot of corporations implementing a dedicated package screening and messenger centre, where parcels can be handed off to staff employees who will control their distribution,” says Christopher Grniet, vice-president of Kroll Schiff Associates, the security consulting and engineering division of Kroll.

For companies with premises in countries where the threat of suicide bombers in vehicles is present, access control needs to be extended beyond the main entry to the building.

“There are two aspects to this,” says Mr Burry.

“The first is to prevent the vehicle reaching the gate at speed, which is done by installing concrete obstacles to form a chicane 50 metres out.

“But if they succeed in bypassing those, then the vehicle blocker comes in.”

Security lighting is another important measure, particularly for greenfield sites, and consultants point out that the lights should illuminate the area outside the fence and not inside it.

This arrangement makes it hard for any approaching criminal or attacker to see what is on the other side of the perimeter wall.

However, there are also less visible elements of securing corporate premises that need to be thought out well before the construction begins, such as the data links, ducts and wiring that are installed to support CCTV systems and various other high-tech security solutions.

Increasingly, different systems are being used in conjunction with each other to enhance security.

Access control cards used to enter a building, for instance, can also be used to log on to a computer.

"Increasingly, different systems are being used in conjunction with each other to enhance security"

Monitoring technology can correlate these two pieces of information so that if access has been gained to the computer, but the person authorised to use it does not appear on the system as having entered the building, security staff can be alerted.

As such technological convergence intensifies in the security arena, careful planning of cabling and other supporting infrastructures is crucial.

At the same time ventilation systems can be planned in such a way as to minimise the impact of any chemical or biological attack.

The idea is that air conditioning and heating systems are designed in such a way that chemical or biochemical agents can be quickly expelled from the facility, or at least not carried further into it.

When it comes to existing buildings, planners looking to introduce physical security measures face a tougher task, however.

While some measures - such as window films that make it more difficult to break the glass and prevent flying shards if they are broken - are relatively simple to instal, many corporate headquarters, particularly in older cities, were designed well before access control turnstiles or CCTV cameras were a consideration.

“And a lot of the challenges have to do with the spatial constraints of the design,” says Mr Grniet.

“That may drive a requirement for more equipment because you don’t have open areas of passage or entry that can be monitored easily.”

In many cases - particularly in the case of historic buildings - aesthetics need to be taken into account.

“They’re carving up beautiful marble and terrazzo and putting turnstiles into a lobby that was never designed to have those things,” says Mr Grniet.

“And we have a lot of historic court houses and federal buildings that were never meant to have those types of applications in their lobbies.”

Fortunately, Mr Grniet sees evidence that many building designers and architects, recognising that X-ray machines and turnstiles are now permanent fixtures, are coming up with designs for this equipment that blend in more easily with the surrounding structure.

“We often get the architect involved so that they can apply these measures in an appropriate way,” he says.

“And the market [for physical security equipment] has exploded with different design concepts and styles.”


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