7 Ways to Improve Your Building’s Security That Everyone Overlooks

The importance of building security is pretty much a given— you need to protect your assets, property, and occupants from harm. Threats seem to be quickly multiplying as technology and criminals become increasingly sophisticated, necessitating a more complex building security solution from you to keep intelligence, physical assets, property, and employees safe.

How well does your building security system anticipate and meet threats? A 2022 report by Global Guardian found that two-thirds of the responding corporate leaders reported an increase in actual security threats. Having a security plan is one part of being prepared; the other part is continually reviewing and working on your plan.

It’s all too easy to focus on the newest, most sophisticated security tools and equipment and lose track of the basics that truly form the core foundation for any security system. Have you overlooked any of the basics?

The best security system is one that includes time-proven tools as well as cutting-edge security technology.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Deterring unwanted activity, including criminal activity, should be your top security system goal. Carefully chosen and maintained environmental design (CPTED) provides unparalleled efficacy for crime prevention. The design of both exterior and interior spaces has been proven to influence human behavior. While design elements can seem obvious, a ‘no brainer,’ a less rigorous approach can result in less than optimal results.

How can you use environmental design to influence whether your building seems vulnerable to criminal activity?

#1 Landscaping for Safety

Landscaping affords you both natural access and natural surveillance control of your property. Criminals appreciate the opportunity provided by obscured sightlines! Designing and maintaining landscaping that allows for clear sightlines around your building, especially around doorways and vulnerable access points, automatically puts potential intruders on the defensive. Keep the exterior of your building well maintained, and pay attention to the pruning and shaping of shrubbery. Overgrown or out-of-shape landscaping can give potential criminals the impression that you ignore details.

#2 Light It Like You Mean Business

Exterior lighting provides so many benefits— beautification, attraction, illumination, safety, and crime prevention. Exterior and interior lighting are two of the easiest and best ways to keep both people and property safe and secure. Strive for uniform illumination levels without glare or dark spots, consider motion detectors that effectively warn trespassers that they’ve been noticed, light any area or walkway that customers and employees use, and make sure to adjust lighting schedules to seasonal daylight changes.

Lighting is one of the most observable and impactful of all security improvements, helping employees feel safe, respected, and cared for while giving a clear NOT HERE message to potential trespassers.

#3 Create Flow Delineations with Physical Barriers and Natural Access Control

Physical barriers can help people understand the difference between public and private space and expectations for traffic flow. When you clearly demarcate where the “right place” to be is then it’s quite obvious and attention-getting when people are in the “wrong place.” Outside controls include parking control signage, clearly delineated traffic lanes and parking spots, hedges, pathways, plantings, and lighting all work together to direct vehicle and human traffic toward appropriate places. Inside controls include restricted access to internal areas, monitored employee access, visitor check-in locations, and orientation of traffic flow or work areas so that those inside can observe who and what is happening outside.

#4 Signage: Make It Obvious

Security has both physical and mental elements, and the best prevention approach uses both subtle and obvious ways to discourage unwanted activity. Be blatantly obvious about posting stickers and signage alerting everyone to active security systems. Signs of security systems and surveillance were given as one of the top reasons not to burglarize in a study of convicted burglars done by the University of North Carolina. Security system signage combined with visible cameras and/or guards is even more effective (signage without cameras may work against you).

#5 Employee Education and Policies

Your workforce could be one of the most underutilized security elements at your disposal! Enlisting the attention and support of your employees can help you identify suspicious activity both inside and outside of your building.

Have clear-cut security policies and make sure to update and review them with everyone at least annually. Your workforce both deserves and wants to know what they can and cannot do. Embed the policies in your corporate culture, making it safe for employees to anonymously report suspicious activity and then make sure to investigate promptly.

#6 Access Control and Intercom: Smart Building Management Essentials

Building access control is essential when it comes to providing security to a building and those in it. You can control access to your building as well as access to controlled areas inside. Access systems using unique identifiers, like access cards or biometrics, provide a highly detailed audit trail of time and date information that tracks ingress and egress. The physical security of your data, people, equipment, and other resources is significantly improved when an appropriate access control system is in place.

An effective intercom system plays a key role in access control as well as building functionality. What is your current process for screening and allowing access to vendors, delivery people, or visitors? How much time is lost connecting the person at the door with the correct staff person? Would your building benefit from a visitor log? Building access control together with the right intercom system improves not only building security but safety too.

#7 Security Analysis To Find and Fix Inevitable Blind Spots

Are you adequately keeping abreast of the fast-moving world of physical and IT threats and how it relates to your building’s security? Chances are probably not, and that’s why an annual security analysis makes so much sense. Some jobs are best left to specialists. A security professional knows which technology will best address the threats and vulnerabilities your business or building faces. Security is rapidly changing! How does it not make sense to learn where your current system stands in the face of rising threats? The cost to have an analysis done is minimal compared to the emotional and financial costs if security is breached.

FICO provides turnkey building management and system integration services for technically complex buildings in Montana and beyond. From design and installation to ongoing maintenance and security, our best-in-class people and products help you achieve operational savings and minimize risk as you work to provide reliable and safe environments.

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