Zoned Security: A New Solution
January 01, 2004

By Staff
Appeared in Building Operating Management/FacilitiesNet

In the past, unauthorized entry was the biggest threat to building security. As the tragic events of and following Sept. 11, 2001, have made all too clear, threats to security have become more varied and sophisticated. In developing a security program today, facility executives must also consider the threats of bombs and biological and chemical weapons.

That is why it is more important than ever to develop a comprehensive security program to protect building users, 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 also to identify and assess the roles of all human and electronic security assets, including integrated electronic security systems, building automation systems, contract security personnel and public agencies.

The results of this assessment will allow facility executives to design and implement security measures in concentric zones, from the interior of the building outward to the public domain.

Zone 1: the Interior
Every facility executive needs to protect interior space from unauthorized entry. The means available include:

Zone 2: the Perimeter
The typical multitenant building perimeter base building system focuses on elements that are incorporated into the design of a new structure, but also may be retrofitted. Some of these elements are:

Mail facilities are also vulnerable to biological and chemical weapons, and unauthorized entry. To combat those threats, consider:

Finally, the building’s air systems and mechanical room, if located on the perimeter, are another area of vulnerability. Protect air handling systems from tampering by:

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. One security measure against these threats is the installation of highway barriers, but these are unsightly. Instead, use landscape elements to create a stand-off zone around the building, remembering that the effect of blasts diminishes with the distance from the blast. Effective methods include:

Zone 4: Property Boundary
Implement security measures at the property line, which may include:

Zone 5: Parking Structures
Parking structures are a significant area of vulnerability. Limit and monitor access and use, particularly if the parking structure is within or under the main part of the building. In addition to eliminating on-street curb parking, successful methods might include using:

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, facility executives 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.

Terrence J. Gillick is vice president of the Syska Hennessy Group in New York City.