Roundtable: 9/11 lessons learned

Ten years have passed since 19 terrorist hijackers forever changed the domestic security landscape of the United States.
Not only did the attacks claim the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people, they led to the creation of government agencies and new regulations for air travel.

While the focus of most security efforts in the wake of 9/11 have been on protecting airplanes and other critical infrastructure, the attacks have also dramatically altered the way corporate executives develop security plans.

In this exclusive roundtable, current and former security executives discuss the impact that 9/11 has had on their profession and the future of corporate security moving forward.

How did 9/11 impact the way security executives go about protecting large commercial properties like the World Trade Center?

Keith L. Kambic, director of security and life safety-Willis Tower, U.S. Equities Asset Management: Large commercial properties naturally come with a lot of different considerations. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Security directors must evaluate their program based upon the specific types of businesses that are housed within their property and the risks that may be associated with them. For example, large commercial buildings often house many different types of tenants which may carry risk as well as retail and even tourist attractions. I believe that 9/11 has made the security executive of any type of property much more accountable for their department as it relates not only to protection of the property, but also life safety of the occupants and business continuity for resilience.

Randy Harrison, managing director, corporate security, Delta Air Lines: Protecting large buildings and landmarks since 9/11 has changed in three distinct ways: technology, law enforcement partnering, and intelligence gathering. The necessities and advancement in technology since 9/11 have enabled security to couple historic guard force protection with technology capability to better protect assets. Technology capability advancements provide for better access control capabilities, monitoring and controlling the movement of personnel, automatically alarming for inappropriate movements or out of place items, and better video capabilities to identify threats. These elements coupled with guard force resources provide a much better informed and process capable program. Private security and local law enforcement forces are much more aligned in sharing information and monitoring local threats. These connections allow for real-time sharing of information and collective action when threats do arise.

Carlos Villarreal, senior vice president, commercial real estate security services, Whelan Security: Prior to 9/11, most commercial properties were concerned about the “office creeper” walking into a building and stealing lap-top computers, phones, and personal items such as expensive clothing, jewelry and cash. Sept. 11 changed the dynamics of security planning from protecting against property theft to protecting buildings and people against large-scale catastrophic events. Today, security executives must plan for efficient strategies to control and monitor both public and vehicle access into buildings and parking garages. How, when and what are the triggers points to conduct a full building evacuation is a major issue in the planning stages of a security program.

Timothy Giles, president of Risk/Security Management & Consulting and former director of security at IBM: Initially after 9/11, many high rise property management companies did not have in-house security professionals; therefore, a lot of requests went out asking for security assessments of their properties. However, many of these facilities made very few changes to systems or procedures once they looked at the cost of those changes, especially as time went by and there were no new attacks. I believe this drove some increase in the use of contract security officers. Interestingly, there were some facilities that did assessments to look at moving from contract officers to proprietary officers, but I don’t believe there were very many of them that actually made that change.

John Tello, assistant director, safety & security, Boston Properties: After Sept. 11, increasing the quality and visibility of uniformed security personnel became paramount as a way of not only deterring future attacks but also to alleviate the anxiety of our constituents who visit and conduct business in our properties.



The full version of this article can be found in the September issue of Security Technology Executive magazine.