Building Security Technology


The 9/11 attacks in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. led many building owners and managers to upgrade their security protocols and systems.

Surveillance cameras, lobby turnstiles and other high-tech security measures became commonplace features within many large properties.

Yet while experts generally agree that U.S. buildings are safer than they were before 9/11, they also warn that many building owners and managers have grown complacent on security issues since the attacks.

That’s particularly disturbing in light of a recent warning from the federal government that al-Qaeda remains bent on carrying out “visually dramatic mass-casualty attacks” against domestic targets.

But a vague threat seems to have triggered a vague response: Many building owners and managers are taking a wait-and-see attitude on costly security upgrades. In fact, it is feared that it will take another U.S. attack to once again grab the attention of the country’s $5 trillion commercial real estate sector.

It is worth noting that building security measures are only as good as the public infrastructure that complements them, so it’s probably not so surprising that building owners and managers are still trying to meet 9/11 security challenges.

Future adjustments, however, may not include high-tech security measures. With regard to 9/11, building managers have identified that technology will have little or no benefit in deterring a terrorist event. Hence, there is reluctance to invest in equipment that will have nominal effects.

Cosmetics also play a role, as some businesses fear that their workplaces will resemble fortified bunkers with the addition of these systems. But some owners and managers are still in the market for security technology, and vendors keep rolling out more sophisticated products to serve this market. According to the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), spending on all types of security in private buildings climbed from 49 cents per sq. ft. in 2002 to 63 cents in 2007.

Among the vendors seeking to capitalize on that additional spending are Tensor Time Systems Inc of Dayton, Ohio. Tensor offer an array of commercial security technology, such as the Access Lite door access control system, which has seen demand for these products rise substantially since 9/11.

Buildings in Eastern and Northern cities have adopted security technology more readily that those in Southern and Western cities have. The stragglers, have more of an attitude that the problems will hit New York before reaching them.

Whether you’re in New York or New Mexico, relying too heavily on technology as a “silver bullet” to ward off terrorists is the wrong approach. The best approach is to layer technical, physical and operational security as part of an overall security program to deter, delay or possibly detect the event before it occurs.

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