Changing Behavior

Plan for the future rather than react to events

All things in life change over time. As it relates to the world of security, the acceleration of change began with the unforgettable terrorist attacks on our domestic soil in 2001, with multiple other events that followed. Most recently, places of large gatherings like schools and theaters have been the center of attention, driving the priority of changing the way security is viewed to protect unsuspecting, innocent children or patrons of a business.

The challenge security professionals encounter, as it relates to these situations, is more behavioral than educational. They are subjected to a reactionary environment that seems to be numb to the most obvious of concerns, and only awakens with commitment to act when violated.

For Every Action, Reaction

For example, few people assume an accountable posture with regards to retirement, achieving a comfortable financial position with less than median income to draw upon from their years of saving. Does this sound similar to the behavior of parties charged with an even greater responsibility— to care for the security of our nation’s critical assets, not to mention the people that occupy them? For example, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a vehicle bomb blast in 1995, so now bollards creating stand-off from similar buildings are now required on most federal facilities—a reactionary security measure.

Someone attempts to blow up an airplane with bottled chemicals, so now we have to display items through airport security in multiple smaller containers—another reactionary measure.

The “tennis shoe” bomber fails to destroy a plane in flight and now we all have to take off our shoes in the security line—reactionary.

Innocent children are slaughtered in a school, and now placing armed guards and arming the faculty is a proposed remedy—reactionary.

The examples are endless. What is not so easy to cite are the people and businesses that are taking a proactive approach to mitigating these situations with reasonable, well-thought-out solutions. Few industry professionals take the approach to leverage available financial resources, technology advancements and a clear understanding of the collateral damage and risk a given situation bears when an event occurs.

You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with perimeter security?” The answer is everything.

For anyone to say that a facility requiring additional security measures needs taller, heavier, crash-rated fences laden with IDS systems tied to surveillance cameras enabled with video analytics is a little bit tenuous. That same facility—governed by armed security guards housed in a ballistic-rated guard station, protected by active vehicle barriers, backed by blast-rated glazing in the building façade with a sally port entry armed with biometric access, all as a starting point to mitigate your threat concerns—is as inconvenient as having to take off your shoes to pass through an airport security checkpoint.

Although all these technology measures are appropriate when placed in a suitable application, the greater concern is that perimeter security has become boring to many people. It’s a little bit like saving for the future, but doing it later in life. Security should be a first thought.

It is important to look at the specifics of perimeter security and how they are being addressed. This segment of the business has moved from being perceived as minimally necessary to overkill. Perimeter security is more important than ever, especially when you consider a current posture is being rationalized away due to unplanned or over-budgeted requirements that lead to non-performing, window-dressing solutions to satisfy a board of directors or a momentary public outcry for more visible security measures.

All of this is, once again, reactionary. Although a chosen few have taken a path of responsible and logical action to mitigate the risks in their particular situation, leveraging some of the recently developed standards and skilled professionals in this arena, the majority continues down the path of avoidance, and that is not risk avoidance.

With the endless pool of performance-driven, costeffective and sustainable technology available today, a pragmatic approach to addressing the security concerns of a facility can, in most cases, be implemented without breaking the bank and could be executed over time.

The key ingredient is a proactive attitude with the commitment to complete the objectives determined, then selecting the correct technology products after leveraging trustworthy expertise of security professionals supporting risk assessment, site systems design, and effective integration/ installation.

There are many features and benefits of advancements in various technologies used in perimeter security, such as anti-ram or anti-climb fencing; broad-spectrum radar tied to video analytics; improvements in performance and durability of vehicle barriers; and even the integration of electronic technology into ballistic-rated guard shelters, acting as the command and control center for an access control point (ACP). Technology is not the key to effective security. Logical and effective use of the technology is.

Reports are not available that demonstrate the number of facilities that are mostly unprepared. This is not because of a lack of need, but more about an undisciplined behavior. Perimeter security has become a tiresome subject that many people have chosen to ignore, hoping to avoid necessity.

The amount of available security information is limitless, with thousands of industry professionals ready to help the decision-making process. Stakeholders are counting on you to not leave them exposed because you don’t have the budget and nothing has happened—yet.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Security Today.

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