FM Issue: Signature Perimeter Security

By Eduard J. Emde, CPP, CISSP
Published in the August 2012 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Outdoor Lighting Facilitates Perimeter Security

By Ross Barna

Museum of Clean, Pocatella, ID (Photo: Amber Alder).

In addition to gates, locks, alarms, security personnel, and surveillance systems, lighting is an important part of any integrated security plan. For maximum security protection, facility managers (fms) will want to light any areas that give access to the building, including corners, back doors, nooks, and crannies so that anyone coming onto the property will have to do so in the light. By providing a clear view of the area from a distance and illuminating—and thereby eliminating—any potential hiding places, outdoor lighting facilitates and improves the effectiveness of other security devices or procedures being used on the property.

One of the most economical and effective ways to light large, open areas is high wattage, high mounted floodlights. These should be consistently spaced to provide uniform luminance. Another effective security lighting technique for the building itself is ground mounted floodlights aimed inward and upward to about two thirds of the building’s height. Pedestrian pathways call for lower wattage bollards or landscape style luminaires mounted at a height of 24″ to 42″. Wall mounted luminaires can provide illumination for entrances, walkways, and underpasses that surround the perimeter of the building.

Fms should position the light fixtures to illuminate any areas where an intruder might try to gain access to the property. The higher a light fixture is mounted, the larger the illuminated area will be, but the less intense the light will be. (For instance, think of a flashlight and what happens to the beam circle as it’s moved closer and farther.) It’s a compromise that will determine how many fixtures will be needed. Fixtures can be mounted on walls, poles, or any structure that has electricity.

Local electrical distributors can put fms in touch with resources that will help them to design an effective outdoor lighting system. Some lighting manufactures provide free assistance as an added value service. MEP firms and lighting designers can also provide lighting layouts for a fee, depending on the size and scope of the project.

LED lighting fixtures are one choice for energy efficient, long lasting light. With twice the useful life of HID lamps and energy savings that can reach 85%, LED lighting systems can pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time. Purchasing quality LED fixtures from an established manufacturer will provide many years of maintenance free service.

Motion sensors that turn lights on and off create the threat of being detected in the mind of would-be intruders and can serve as an even stronger deterrent than security lighting alone. They can also be more economical, because the lights don’t have to be left on constantly to protect the facility.

In addition to the money that can be saved by lowering power bills and maintenance costs, energy efficient security lighting can help to improve a facility’s insurance rates and may even earn rebate incentives for saving energy. When properly installed, security lighting is a cost-effective, easy to operate, and dependable way to protect a facility and those who use it.

Barna is the CEO of RAB Lighting, a Northvale, NJ-based pioneer in LED lighting.

Signature buildings are symbols of commercial power, the subjects of public pride, the workaday offices for thousands of people, and, of course, targets for criminals and terrorists. Since 9/11, the security directors and facility managers (fms) of signature buildings have made perimeter security into a science. Top managers at two of the nation’s most prominent buildings offer helpful examples of successful perimeter security implementation.

Securing The Stage In Chicago And Philadelphia

Keith L. Kambic, CPP, is the director of security and life safety with Chicago, IL-based U.S. Equities Management, LLC. He is responsible for security at the Willis Tower—formerly the Sears Tower.

Currently the tallest building in the country, the Willis Tower soars 110 stories and 1,450 feet into the Chicago skyline. It spans 3.8 million square feet, including 159,000 square feet of retail space and numerous amenities.

Jim Birch is director of security and life safety with Liberty Property Trust, the owner and property manager for Comcast Center in Philadelphia, PA. Birch directs security at the 58 story, 975 foot tall Comcast Center, which is the tallest building in Philadelphia. It encompasses 1.2 million square feet, including 36,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a landscaped public plaza.

Step One: Perimeter Risk Assessment

“We do a risk assessment every year, starting with the perimeter,” says Kambic. “Security directors often worry about so many details that they can put on blinders when it comes to the larger picture. A risk assessment forces us to take off the blinders. I take one of our younger patrolling officers with me—someone with fresh eyes.”

Kambic reviews records about incidents, such as slips and falls, from past years through the present. He also orders a report on personal and property crime in the area. “By learning how the numbers change, I can adjust cameras and patrols,” he says.

Outside, Kambic inspects the property closely. Is growing landscaping blocking any camera views? Are there nooks where someone might hide? Have the pavers in the building’s plaza risen above grade and created a tripping hazard?

He also considers Chicago’s schedule and the building’s schedule for the coming year. “Plazas attract protesters like the Occupy Movement, which is a concern continuing from last year,” he says. “So I have to think about what events might attract protesters.”

Defining The Perimeter

Risk assessments also help define the perimeter. “A security perimeter isn’t necessarily the line that divides the building’s property from another property,” says Comcast Center’s Birch. “To me, it is an area that divides one section of the property from another.

Birch describes Comcast Center’s perimeters. There is a half acre plaza that is open to the public. The plaza has an outdoor restaurant open spring, summer, and fall, weather permitting. The plaza leads to the building’s main entrance. Inside the lobby, which is also open to the public, a 2,000 square foot LED screen projects spectacular yet realistic computer generated images. Downstairs from the lobby, there is retail and restaurant space. A security desk staffed by security ambassadors, as Comcast Center calls them, is situated in front of the elevators that go to the offices upstairs. All of these areas—except the elevators to the upper levels—are open to the public. Each forms a different facet of the perimeter and raises separate perimeter security considerations.

“We want people to visit our public spaces to relax and have a positive experience,” Birch says. “Risks include solicitors, panhandlers, pickpockets, and even skateboarders on the plaza. We use a combination of security ambassadors and surveillance cameras to protect people and property. Security ambassadors all wearing blue business suits, red ties, and name tags position themselves to see the public areas. They observe and report behaviors that will interfere with the positive experience of our visitors, intervening when necessary.”

Other perimeter areas to consider while assessing a building’s risks include the perimeter walls of the building itself as well as the main entrances, the main floor lobby and elevator banks, the loading dock, and entrances to a parking garage or structure, if any.

Protecting The Entrances

Owners of at-risk buildings use a variety of barriers to keep unauthorized vehicles away from the walls and entrances. At Comcast Center, the plaza protects the main entrance on the south side. Bollards protect the north and east sides, while landscaped concrete planters and bollards guard the west.

The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

At the Willis Tower, Kambic uses fixed cameras at the entrances. “We use pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras for general areas and fixed cameras at the entrances,” he says. “If something happens, a fixed camera won’t miss it because it is panning another scene.”

Kambic also uses video to monitor areas subject to slips and falls—like the giant globe of the earth made of stainless steel pipe that stands just outside the building’s entrance. “We’ve blocked access, but now and then someone gets to it and starts climbing,” he says. “We use a fixed camera with video analytics there; if someone approaches, the analytics will alarm and send video to the monitoring station.”

Cameras, access card readers, security officers, doors, and pop up bollards protect the Tower’s 168 car executive parking garage. “We search the vehicles outside of the barriers, then the driver swipes an access card,” explains Kambic. “If the card is authorized, the doors open and the bollards retract. After the vehicle passes, the bollards pop back up.”

Inside the garage, there are cameras and emergency call stations. The receiving dock uses a variation. There, an officer working outside inspects vehicles and checks to make sure the deliveries are expected. After clearing the vehicle, the officer radios a second officer inside. That officer lowers the bollards and opens the doors.

Cameras with video analytics cover the loading docks and other exterior areas where no one should be present late at night. The analytics alarm when a person or car moves in those areas. Cameras with analytics also monitor air intakes, watching for anyone who might try to contaminate the building’s air supply.

The building has numerous exterior cameras, and Kambic supplements patrolling security officers with video patrols. “We document where and when we conduct patrols with officers as well as cameras,” he says.

The Final Perimeter

Security grows tighter and tighter as employees and visitors move closer to the business offices in a building. At Comcast Center, Birch supplies access cards to open turnstiles and provide entry to the elevator banks.

Comcast Center (Photo: R. Bradley Maule).

Birch has set up a strict visitor management system. “Tenants log guests into the system at a website,” Birch says. “When guests arrive, they sign in at the security desk and we check identification. A security ambassador accesses the website to see if the guest has been logged in. If not, the ambassador calls the tenant to ask if the person is expected. If so, we provide a temporary access card for the turnstiles; the badge expires at 6:00 PM.”

It’s The People

Both Kambic and Birch say that security people keep buildings—and building perimeters—safe. Technology helps but doesn’t replace people.

“Years ago, putting up cameras had a deterrent effect,” he says. “But cameras are so common today that the deterrent effect has faded. You have to have people, and you have to put them in the right jobs. We put friendly extroverts inside the front door. They like to approach people and talk. That will deter someone who doesn’t belong. We also have security officers outside that open doors and hail cabs. They have taken counter surveillance training and can recognize people who don’t belong.”

While not every building needs perimeter security as tight as these two signature buildings, these techniques are worth studying and, when appropriate, copying. Fms in nearly every type of facility would benefit from adopting at least some of these measures at their own sites.

Emde is principal consultant for BMKISS Europe, an independent security support organization based in the Netherlands. The first non U.S. President of ASIS International, Emde has 20+ years of experience in security and security risk management. Emde has served on the boards of various associations in the field of risk management and security, including the Dutch Society for Risk Management and OSAC Netherlands. A member of ASIS International since 1990, he has served as Regional Vice President in Europe and as board member and Chair of the Benelux Chapter. Emde has also served as a trainer for CPP review courses.