Security in tall and iconic buildings is critical for a multitude of reasons, ranging from safeguarding human lives to protecting assets and ensuring the functionality of vital infrastructure. In today’s urban landscapes, where skyscrapers define city skylines, the significance of security cannot be overstated.
Organisations spend millions of pounds annually on security resources to protect the asset, people and brand image of the iconic location. Security personnel are deployed throughout the location to deter and respond to Critical Events that may and will occur within and around the location.
Central to the entire security of the building, is the Security Control Room. So, let’s take a look at how security control rooms can cover up potential weaknesses in your risk control of the location.
At the very outset, planning for the right size and space to build a Security Control Room comes under enormous pressure for operational reasons. It is non chargeable floor space, one where millions of pounds worth of security, fire and BMS systems converge into one small space. Is it really all about security – NO – this is actually your Risk Control Centre situated at the very heart of the location.
Manning the Risk Control Centre:
Manned security personnel are a rising cost, one which significantly contributes to the service charge of the building. People costs keep increasing each year, so it is no surprise that the level of resource deployed within the Risk Control Centre is always under review and deployed at minimum life safety levels.
You might think that the suite of technologies coming into the Risk Control Centre would require a team of IT consultants to manage the outputs, breakdowns, failures and false activations that occur on a daily basis. Is it really about monitoring cameras? No, the eyes and ears of the Security operators are monitoring every aspect of the technologies deployed to keep the building operating as a safe and secure environment. Yet even in today’s digital world, we still use handwriting to compile notes, incident reports, complete the daily occurrence book, fill in lost and found forms, wite statements and send key information of events via emails.
Like any system, Security Control Rooms have weaknesses and vulnerabilities that create further risk in an environment where you are already managing the entire risk of the building.
Failing to follow proper procedures, misinterpreting information, making assumptions based on limited knowledge or training, in fact a myriad of potential failures in response to a critical event can lead to an escalation that incurs further cost and potential threat to life safety.
In emergencies, effective communication is critical to the successful outcome of a critical event. Control Rooms can be vulnerable to communication failures, including network outages, equipment malfunctions and somewhat complex to handle ‘mass notification’ systems. (some so complex that they are rarely used and remain redundant).
During a Critical Event, decisions and clear communications are required in order to reduce risk and impact.
Control Room operators need accurate and timely information to respond effectively to these events. If they lack access to critical data like emergency operating procedures (EOPs) or are overwhelmed by too much information, they can make poor decisions. Proper critical event management software and visualisation tools are essential.
Risk Control Centres require well defined and tested response plans for an array of critical events. Without proper planning and drills, how can you expect relatively low paid security personnel to respond effectively during a crisis.
Deploying an effective and efficient Risk Control Centre
It’s crucial for organisations to regularity assess and address the weaknesses within a Control Room environment and maintain the reliability of life support systems and processes. This will involve a combination of traditional measures such as training, policies and vigilance to the delivery of Critical Event Management (CEM) software to support the ever-technical resources contained within the Risk Control Centre.
Within the next 5 years, every high-risk location and environment will operate with critical event management embedded in the Risk Control Centre. North America is already there and is regarded as a mature market. It is only a matter of time before the UK and Europe realise the importance of this software that drives process, procedures, response, communication and successful outcomes.
Critical Event Management software is not expensive. Often less than one percent of the security budget, it removes the need for separate mass notification platforms, EHS solutions and guarding patrol systems. Given that it can give you a single pane of glass for all events, the option for it to be totally cost neutral is a real possibility.
In the aftermath of the Manchester Arena (UK) bombing, critical event management is on everyone’s radar, so why wait for legislation to push your Security Control Room into a Risk Control Centre when you already know that as a high risk location this is the minimum requirement to manage risk.