Often, the first step to defending a site that is susceptible to a certain degree of risk is the design of the outer perimeter. Any ingress point on the perimeter effectively becomes a control hub, since it is there that split-second decisions have to be made every day that can determine the fate of the site and everything connected to it.
Yet it is both easy and all too common for a point of access to end up as the weakest rather than the strongest link in the security chain, with devastating results in terms of costs, lost production and even in some cases of human lives. Worse still is when the entry points are treated as if they were impenetrable, because if disaster does strikes, it will be too late to act. Any remedies will turn out to be too little too late, and will do little to repair the damage done.
Several types of harm and loss may result from a poorly designed entrance point:
- Catastrophic economic loss caused by:
- criminal acts
- damage to the outside and inside of the site
- petty or large-scale theft
- Illegal entry, rendered possible by:
- unauthorised access and exit
- mistakes in the monitoring of persons entering the site
- failure to identify internal and external staff
- Loss of life, caused by:
- terrorist attacks
- acts of violence
- criminal action
Dangerous pitfalls await those who are superficial in their approach to security and believe that a bit of technology plus a few routine checks are enough in themselves to guarantee full protection. Inexperience, even in apparently minor matters, and carelessness in forward planning may eventually result in huge losses.
But it is possible to avoid such pitfalls by taking the following advice into account. When designing the access points for the perimeter around a space or a site, just four basic actions can make all the difference.
1. Carry out a thorough assessment of the current situation
Before embarking on an effort to make changes to the entrance points, a careful evaluation needs to be made of the existing situation. The purpose of a preliminary inspection of this sort is:
- To determine the nature and the seriousness of the risk to which the space in question is exposed, both of which need to be ascertained with as much precision as possible;
- To predict the sort of traffic expected to pass through the gates or entry points, which entails distinguishing between, for instance, pedestrians, vehicles (e.g. for cleaning, supplies or other authorized purposes) and law enforcement personnel;
- To catalogue all security devices, any installations erected to protect existing facilities, and identify which control and inspection duties have been assigned to which trusted persons and specialized staff;
- To map out the bends and straight lines on the routes in the immediate vicinity of the access gates, which will make an appreciable difference to the speed of approach of vehicles;
- To ascertain the extent of the changes and updates that can be made to existing security systems and decide whether they need to be redesigned from scratch.
2. Pinpoint the weaknesses of the existing security system
Ninety percent of the security systems protecting the outer ring of defence of a sitecontain one or more flaws that make them vulnerable. Mostly the flaws are attributable to planning mistakes caused by inadequate experience, yet they are enough to compromise entirely the safety of the space or site.
Design flaws may include:
- Access points that are neither automatically nor manually protected;
- Gates or entrances that can be opened without any system of control;
- The stationing of security staff at entrance checkpoints in units not made of reinforced concrete;
- Gaps in the perimeter fencing;
- Low and climbable fences located next to full-height turnstiles;
- No video surveillance of barriers.
3. Correctly sequencing the operations of barriers, gates and antechambers
To ensure complete security, every device and mechanism installed at an access point has to form part of a joined-up system that, in turn, must be based on a rational design. If this is not the case, the system will be vulnerable at several points, nullifying the considerable economic investment made in protecting the site.
Our decades-long experience in this field has taught us certain tricks of the trade:
- It is a good idea to position road bollards next to the barriers, but only after calculating essential factors such as the type of vehicle that might impact them and the relevant performance specifications of the bollards themselves;
- It is inadvisable to install protective barriers at the entrance to vulnerable sites, because security operations may have to be launched at short notice;
- At medium-risk sites, cost savings can be made by automating barrier controls and installing reliable licence-plate readers that can determine whether a vehicle seeking entrance is on a blacklist or not;
- At high-risk sites, it is essential to set up the right sort of controls at the gate, and opt for manual checks if the armed guards are internally appointed, and to set up a hybrid system that reports to a control room if the security service is outsourced.
4. Oversee the installation of the system from start to finish
To comply with safety standards, a site must have a robust security system installed. A superficial attitude to security can lead to easily avoidable errors during this delicate phase of the process. Even so, early-stage mistakes are frequent, and negligence can prejudice the performance of the security installation by up to 50%
Some key considerations to keep in mind are:
- The type of concrete must be selected with the utmost care, and must be compatible with the specifications of each device installed;
- The foundation cages of constructions must be designed with reference to a series of different factors. Most importantly, the volume has to be just right and the proportion of iron to cement needs to be accurately calibrated;
- The conduit for the data cable must be carefully positioned so that the general safety of the system is guaranteed and the cable remains safe from “sniffing” attacks.
For further information please contact:
0115 9210 430