Designing a Concentric Approach to Security
November 13, 2002

By Staff
Appeared in Real Estate Weekly

In the past, unauthorized entry was the biggest threat to building security. As the tragic events of and following September 11th have made all too clear, the threats to security have become more varied and sophisticated. In developing a facility security program today, we also have to take into consideration the threats of blast and of biological and chemical weapons.

That is why it is more important than ever to develop a comprehensive security program to protect building users, the business continuity and real estate assets. As part of this process, it is essential to look not only at the hardware and software comprising the building’s security system, but to identify and assess the roles of all human and electronic security assets: integrated electronic security systems; building automation systems; contract security personnel; and public agencies.

Use the results of this assessment to design and implement security measures in six concentric zones, from the interior of the building outward to the public domain.

Zone 1: Protect the Interior
Every building owner has a common need to protect its interior space from unauthorized entry. Some of the means available include:

Zone 2: Protect the Perimeter
The typical multi-tenant building is protected at the perimeter by a base building system. Perimeter security focuses on the following elements, which, ideally, are incorporated into the design of a new structure, but also may be retrofitted:

Zone 2: Mail Facilities
Mail facilities are vulnerable to biological and chemical weapons, as well as unauthorized entry:

Zone 2: Air systems
The building’s air systems and mechanical room (if located on the perimeter) are vulnerable. Protect air handling systems from tampering:

Zone 3: Building Grounds
Building grounds should be treated as a defensive zone to prevent cars and trucks, which might be carrying explosives, from crashing into the building. A typical security measure against these threats is the installation of highway barriers, but these are unsightly. Instead, use landscape elements effectively to create a stand-off zone around the building, remembering that the effect of blasts diminishes with distance from the blast center:

Zone 4: Sidewalk & Property Boundary
Implement effective security measures at the property line:

Zone 5: Parking Structure & Lanes
Parking structures are a significant area of vulnerability. Limit and monitor access and use, particularly if within or under the main part of the building:

Zone 6: Public Domain
Finally, leverage the assets that are available to property owners in the public domain: streets, police, fire and emergency services departments. Coordinate security policies and procedures with public agencies at the local, state and federal levels, as appropriate. Establish a liaison to obtain real-time intelligence about actual and potential threats.

In today’s world, property owners, developers and managers must take a holistic approach to security planning, programming and system design. They must assess the full range of security assets available – both human and electronic – and develop a system that protects the property at every zone from the interior to the public domain.