Earlier this year, a car was driven straight through the closed entrance of a mall, and suspects made off with thousands of dollars worth of electronics. The police described the event as a “smash-and-grab” style robbery and were unable to locate the suspects in question for multiple weeks. Eventually, they did apprehend two suspects, with a third still remaining at large, but while these suspects were brought in and justice was served, the mall still suffered significant damages.
This story highlights the huge degree of importance of choosing a powerful security system to act as a deterrent to crime in your facility. Though the police are responsive in security breach situations, they do not serve facilities, such as malls, in a preventative manner. Active security officers and dedicated technology are the most effective proactive strategies in preventing crime and damage to your facility.
Whether you manage mall operations, an office complex, a college campus, or any other kind of open facility, choosing the right security system is essential for everyone’s safety.
Security Systems: Why You Need to Choose Wisely
We are living in a time when many conditions are less safe than they’ve ever been. You only have to watch the news to see varying organizations face new and emerging threats that we couldn’t have conceived of 10 years ago.
When considering your security plan, you need to expect the unexpected. Prioritization as a facilities manager is vital to your operational plan, especially regarding security management. Expecting the unexpected is about prioritizing the essential security features, rather than being distracted by the fluff offered by some systems.
Think about it like this: All the cameras and alarm systems in the world aren’t going to stop that car from crashing through your front doors. Take a good look at your facility and think about your vulnerabilities. A good security system combines responsiveness with prevention. If you don’t choose yours wisely, chances are, you will lean entirely to one way, and be vulnerable to breaches.
Facility Considerations When Security Planning
Every facility is different, so every security process should be uniquely tailored. Your security system should not look the same at every facility you manage, especially if your facilities are in multiple industries. Before choosing your on-site security system, there are a few factors you should check off:
- Identify your key assets. Every security system is put in place to protect something specific. Beyond just preventing unauthorized access, you should have specific features that protect your facilities’ key assets. (For example, in a mall, there are security implementations for general building access prevention, but then also tailored solutions for each unique business).
- Find the number of access points. Physically walk around your facility and examine the locations where intruders may attempt to get in. Don’t overlook potential hidden access points from above or below—to get the full picture, you may need to enlist the assistance of third-party inspectors and experts in building foundation.
- Map out the security landscape. If your facility is new to the area or to the security game, chances are you don’t know the main threats faced by other facilities in your area. Talk to local business groups and the local police detachment to find out if there is anything you need to be aware of, like a recent outbreak of graffiti or other incidents. Use online Crime Maps and sign up for email alerts from your local Police Service to stay in the loop.
- Consult team members. There are many different stakeholders involved in new security system implementation. Discuss options with company employees, or with different site managers, depending on your facility type. Make sure everyone knows their role and is in compliance with system operations in order to prevent internal breaches.
- Sit down with a security system expert. In fact, I recommend meeting with multiple industry professionals to give you those additional perspectives that are important to have. Most people you’ll talk to who are security experts have been implementing systems for their entire lives and can help you prepare for things that you might never expect as a facilities manager.
Security System Factors to Consider
Now that you’ve gone through your facility, and talked with the qualified professionals, you have a picture of what you need to keep your location secure. It’s time to choose the security system for your facility. There are many considerations specific to your security system that you should keep in mind:
- Don’t get hung up on price. The most expensive security system in the world isn’t necessarily the best, but the cheapest system in the world is likely one of the worst. Price shouldn’t be a deciding factor as you shop for the right security system. Choose the one that offers you the most applicable, relevant features, because that is the one that will save you the most money in the long run.
- You need the human component. You can install all the cameras you want, but the operator of the camera is the intervening factor that can actually prevent or stop a breach in real-time. Electronic features are great, but if you do not have someone who is specifically specialized in operating them efficiently, they will underperform human teams every time. Find a system that combines human effort with machine efficiency. Even if you operate a low-scale facility, you cannot be devoted 100% of the time: consider hiring a designated security officer.
- Ensure you will have ongoing support. Most facilities managers don’t have time to constantly worry about their security system, though security is one of the most essential parts of their roles. That’s why it’s important to choose a security system and company that will provide you with ongoing resources, updates, and customer support.
- It’s all about training. Whatever system you choose to use, be sure to invest in training for any staff members who can help make your system even stronger. Specific development of a security system that incorporates the training and understanding of all the people involved in security is the best way to ensure that your system works for the long term.
- Make the decision collaborative. Sit down with managers and operations staff to get their perspectives and help you find the system that really suits your wider team’s needs best. However, ensure that information vital to the security of your operations is only shared with the necessary personnel, as this will help keep internal security under wraps.
Working Toward a More Secure Future
Every time you get on an airplane, there is a safety demonstration. That safety demonstration is not put in place for fun, or because something is definitely going to go wrong. It is there to prepare you adequately for what could go wrong. Preparing for anything that could potentially go wrong is what you need to do as a facilities manager. Look at potential vulnerabilities your facility has and use your security system to address them effectively. Creating a detailed security plan and the proper training regiment is the key to every security system.
In the aforementioned mall news story, a better security system could have helped apprehend the suspects quicker or even prevented the break-in altogether. Facilities managers need to learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to security—though no one may have guessed a car would crash through the doors ahead of time, a detailed security plan would recognize those doors as being potential vulnerabilities and use their system to fortify the area.
Create a security plan, talk to industry experts, and add your own facility elements to your system to ensure the facility is protected in every unexpected scenario. The best time to start the security planning process is today!
Jeff Ketelaars is the co-founder of Security Guards Only, an online community of security professionals to connect with like-minded individuals in the industry. Security Guards Only provides several comprehensive apps to help security professionals develop their online presence. Ketelaars has been in the security business for 35 years and has experience with all different sides of the industry, including consulting, physical, and electronics.