Commitment To Emergency Preparedness Still Strong
The 9/11 U.S. terrorist attacks changed the world and the commercial real estate industry alongside it. As the 10-year anniversary approaches, commercial real estate and facilities management professionals are still reinforcing the resulting changes and integrating new best practices to keep their buildings and occupants safe.
According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s property management experts, a deep commitment to enhanced risk management and emergency preparedness, which has been accentuated by technology, still exists today.
“The impact of 9/11 was far reaching—not only on deeply personal, social. and political levels, but across different industries, too,” said Dan Pufunt, president of property management for Jones Lang LaSalle. “For the commercial real estate industry, specifically, it spurred a movement toward increased risk management and emergency preparedness like never before.”
According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s recent research analysis, the advancement toward greater risk management and emergency preparedness procedures and training has been evident throughout the country for the last 10 years but will likely become even more transparent in New York as Manhattan is poised for a great transformation in the coming years—with 15.4 million square feet of new Class A office space being constructed between 2001 and 2016, and projected increased leasing in the next five years. New leasing activity tends to spur changes in space operations and procedures that are likely to uphold the existing security standards or encourage upgrading operations.
“Overall, I believe that the attitudes of most property managers and owners remain in a heightened security state following 9/11, but the fact is many security budgets have decreased over time,” said Mark Anderson, Jones Lang LaSalle’s National Security Liaison and Security Director at 71 S. Wacker in Chicago. “Building owners and managers need to understand the importance of minimizing risk and developing emergency response plans—and the tools that can help keep that dedication consistent while minimizing spend.”
The need to protect a property extends widely from acts of terrorism to natural born elements such as the recent earthquakes and hurricanes. Anderson stressed how technology especially has propelled risk management and emergency planning forward since the events of 9/11 and those investments now aid the treatment of all property disaster scenarios.
“Enhancements in technology have certainly made securing buildings easier,” Anderson said. Everything from electronic visitor management systems that identify building visitors and their whereabouts, to advanced security camera systems that go beyond “people watching” to provide alarm functions and even identify suspicious packages, have helped to mitigate risk. Technology can even help to prepare for emergencies before they actually occur.
“It’s not a question of ‘if’ something will happen; it’s a question of ‘when’ something will happen and how the property teams are prepared to handle the situation,” Anderson said. “This technology helps us to prepare our teams and our properties better for a crisis.”
Despite technology’s pivotal role in enhancing risk management and emergency preparedness, Anderson said technology has also created security challenges, considering the overwhelming amount of information about properties and security measures that anyone can access via the Internet alone.
“Technology is not the end-all solution,” he said. “Security needs to be dynamic, layered, and multidisciplinary. That way, if the technology is bypassed, hopefully the human element of a security operation will be able to compensate for the technology’s shortfalls.”
Technology’s shortfalls have emphasized the importance of networking and communications in mitigating risk and developing emergency response plans. Jones Lang LaSalle values these networking opportunities so greatly. it recently appointed Anderson to serve as the commercial real estate liaison to the Real Estate Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force.
The Real Estate Roundtable is a non-profit organization that addresses national policy issues relating to real estate and the economy, such as tax, capital and credit, environment and energy, and homeland security. As a member of the task force, Anderson will work with the Department of Homeland Security on security, life safety, and counter terrorism issues—providing information to the department from a commercial real estate perspective and reporting back to Jones Lang LaSalle and other real estate entities about potential dangers and security policies.
“Being able to bring back the content from our task force meetings and apply it to our properties is of immeasurable value,” Anderson said. “Such a relationship can enhance the security initiatives in place at our properties.”