Protecting Hard to Protect Areas

Protecting Hard to Protect Areas

Quickly prevent deadly vehicle attacks wherever people congregate

By their very nature, terrorist attacks are unpredictable and predicated on surprise. Staying one step ahead by identifying vulnerable areas, and securing them, is critical to staving off vehicular attacks. That means being able to deploy security equipment in tough conditions, at a moment’s notice.

A year ago this month, an Islamic terrorist drove a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners for about one mile of the Hudson River Park’s bike path in Lower Manhattan, New York City. The vehicle- ramming attack killed eight people and injured 11 others. Government officials are asking how authorities can protect people from attacks in places such as this.

Many officials are unaware there is an answer. A crash-rated portable bollard system will let law enforcement and other security providers promptly block access to uniquely-shaped venues to stop vehicles from being used as weapons against large numbers of pedestrians. Additionally, individual portable bollards provide vehicle barricades in applications such as heavily traveled narrow walkways and roadways or any area that a vehicle can get through. They can also be used as substitutes until permanent bollard systems are installed. They can be placed on any stable surface such as concrete, asphalt, compacted soil or vegetation to quickly protect people and property against aggravated automobile or truck assault.

Temporary bollards can be used to close off streets, entrances or wide expanses such as access to pedestrian areas or even airport runways. They can be installed in conjunction with portable barricades to fill in any gaps to protect people and critical infrastructures at public events such as parades, festivals, sporting weekends and any place that vehicles could attack transitory events. The combination of the portable barriers with the portable bollards provides fast controlled vehicle access without the time and labor of installation.

Other access points are those that are temporary. For instance, at a stadium, traffic may need rerouting for sporting weekends. Or, the city is having a parade. In either case, sections normally open to traffic will be closed to create pedestrian paths and gathering points.

Differing from the “hard stop” wanted with fixed, in-the-ground, anti-terrorist bollards, the Soft Stop technology of the portable bollard decelerates and stops the vehicle over a short distance. This is important because, in many cases, the tragedies that the portables negate are accidents. Authorities want the vehicle stopped but they also want to minimize injury to the driver.

Up to five portable bollards can be linked together with a cable system and be placed on a road’s surface to create immediate protection for a span of 20 feet. No other installation procedures, excavations or sub-surface preparations are required. Certified testing demonstrates that a portable bollard system will stop and disable a 15,000 pound vehicle traveling at 30 mph, resulting in an ASTM M30, P3 rating. A single bollard absorbs 400,000 foot pounds of kinetic energy.

Acting as a Deterrent

Terrorists typically don’t go where they see bollards, so placing them wherever it is possible to attack can reduce security risks dramatically. Temporary bollards also are often used to protect facilities while permanent ones are being built. In the case of bike paths and similar routes, they’re effective for the long-term where physical conditions preclude permanent solutions.

Temporary Barricades Pick Up Where Temporary Bollards Leave Off

A driver injured at least 28 people when smashing into the Krewe of Endymion parade, the largest at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, at a yet unprotected intersection Feb. 25, 2017. A month later on March 22, a terrorist rammed a Hyundai i40 into civilians on Westminster Bridge in the heart of London. There, four people were killed. Following that incident on April 7, five people were killed in Stockholm by a terrorist who had stolen a truck to run pedestrians down.

Temporary vehicle barriers were erected in New Orleans’ French Quarter to restrict vehicle access to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. The barriers, which were placed along cross streets intersecting Bourbon, helped ensure no vehicles had access to the heavily traveled walkway in their three locations as Mardi Gras participants celebrated in the Quarter. The barriers were raised each evening at 5 p.m. from Feb. 22 through Mardi Gras on Feb. 28 and lowered at 5 a.m. or earlier, depending on crowds. New Orleans plans to continue use of the portable barriers during special events in the future.

According to Aaron Miller, New Orleans’ director of homeland security and preparedness, the three barriers were towed into location just prior to the NBA All-Star game. Miller explained that, in certain situations, the portable barriers are more efficient than current measures. Instead of police officers using patrol cars to close streets, the barriers free officers to take care of other important police matters. Miller also stated that the city intends to purchase more portable barriers to block additional French Quarter intersections. Ultimately, many of the moveable barriers will be replaced by permanent installations.

At a stadium, traffic may need rerouting for sporting weekends. Penn State University uses seven barriers for home football games and special events. Like similar applications at the University of Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and others, PSU is able to quickly deploy these barriers at strategic sites around the facility. After the event, they are quickly knocked down and towed to another location.

The Fremont, Calif., City Council heightened protection for its citizens with 12 portable vehicle barricades for events such as the Fremont Festival of the Arts, Niles Antique Faire and Flea Market, Festival of India, parades and other affairs that attract large numbers of people in confined locations. In an article in the East Bay Times, Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero emphasized that special events are an important part of a community’s fabric.

“They provide an opportunity for people to come together in different ways than they do in their ordinary, day-to-day life and have a chance to connect,” Lucero said. “In order for it to be effective, it’s got to be safe.” He continued by saying that the potential danger of cars driving into public gathering areas to kill and hurt people is “very real” and that barricades are a “good, flexible way to be able to protect these venues cost efficiently.”

Portable barrier systems were also selected to protect people attending the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games, held April 4 through the 15, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, included 4,400 athletes from 70 Commonwealth nations throughout the world, competing in 19 championship sports. It was the largest sporting event in Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

“Barriers protected major event venues including the main games stadium, Gold Coast Convention Centre, the Athletes Village and critical street closures throughout the Gold Coast area,” said Matthew Knight, director of Knight Brothers, the security contractor. “It was important for the Games’ operations that access for emergency and authorized vehicles was maintained through the duration of the event.

“The primary use of the portable barriers was in public areas where ground fixation or in-situ HVM measures were not practical or achievable,” Knight said. “Barriers were deployed in a variety of configurations in order to meet security and access needs. This included direct access points as well as heightened temporary security check points with stringent vehicle inspections undertaken by Australian Defense Force staff. Secure access points at other locations were operated by contracted security personnel.”

Another application for portable units is where the primary use is pedestrian but, frequently, vehicles need to pass through. An example could be a square in which the maintenance truck comes through to clean the square periodically. Other areas could be those locations with restricted parking. At a hospital, it may the entrance to the emergency unit. Such access points are well served by bollards, some moveable that go up and down to let vehicles through and others fixed or stationary.

Purchasing Ramifications

From a purchasing standpoint, it can be easier to buy portable bollards and barricades than permanent solutions. The latter are oftentimes placed into an organization’s real assets budget because they are permanently installed into the ground, becoming part of the property. Such budgets can often create complex purchasing scenarios for law enforcement or public safety departments. However, purchasing portable bollards and barricades is no different than buying protective vests for personnel or new sets of wrenches for the maintenance department.

Protecting people from vehicle attack is no small responsibility; it’s becoming mandatory. Knowing that you’ve got the right equipment in place to protect people from vehicle threat and prevent what is becoming all too common human tragedy brings a peace of mind that no amount of money can buy. Carefully researching available options and consulting with experts will ultimately lead to the right solution in helping you protect your community from vehicle-based terrorism.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Security Today.

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