Exclusive Roundtable: 9/11 Lessons Learned

Five security experts take a forward-thinking look at security and public safety 10 years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001

Giles: 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.




Tello: 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.




What kinds of technologies and innovations have you seen in terms of hardening buildings against terror attacks over the past 10 years and how much does it factor into your security planning?

Giles: Today you will see many more of these facilities that have added or enhanced systems such as CCTV, access control, package screening, vehicle screening, improved lighting and even alarm systems. Some clients have also been concerned about bio-terrorism and this has driven them to make sure they have the proper HVAC system controls in place and in some cases, they have hardened security around their intake vents. Another improvement that I have seen has been in the training of security officers. There is more focus today on making sure officers are trained in counter-surveillance so they are aware if someone is conducting surveillance of the facility.

Kambic: We take our commitment to security and life safety systems very seriously, as do other buildings across the nation. As a security director, you must look at integrating systems that will allow you to track and monitor your property and occupants effectively. That can include a combination of technologies ranging from access control, CCTV, barriers and online visitor management systems. However, I think the biggest gains for hardening facilities include IP cameras, intelligent video recording and package screening systems.

Harrison: Camera resolution capability has greatly improved. Technology identifying inappropriate objects or movement has resulted in better monitoring. Access control to monitor and control personnel movement allows for better facility controls. Building materials and design can help minimize the impact of attacks. The overall acceptance by employees to play a role in helping to secure their work area and protect the company now plays a key role in the security program. These elements, especially technology and building improvements, are now acceptable elements woven into corporate and security program planning for budgetary and enterprise risk reduction purposes.

Tello: We have seen a great emergence of Web-based technologies such as IP CCTV cameras, graphical user interfaces for surveillance systems well as digital video storage technology. We have also seen remarkable innovations and expansions in the roles and criticality of centralized security command centers.

Villarreal: Exterior protection is a key ingredient in hardening buildings against terror attacks, such as using high-impact vehicle barriers and planters to protect the perimeter of a building; installing blast resistant film protection on windows to minimize damage; and controlling public access into office towers by using turnstiles, visitor management systems and electronic authorization cards for both tenants and guest.

Did 9/11 change the way you approach normal day-to-day security operations?

Villarreal: Perhaps the most significant change to day-to-day security operations as a result of 9/11 is the information sharing between the public and private sector. Today, we get daily briefings from DHS and local law enforcement agencies regarding terrorist alerts. We take that information and constantly remind our staffs to be on the look-out for suspicious behavior.

Tello: After 9/11, the need to rapidly receive and disseminate information to and from our security command center brought about the emergence of mass communication technology through which all of our constituents can simultaneously receive updates and direction on actual incidents and conditions that affect their personnel and ability to conduct their business. Emergency management planning and the importance of training and exercises for both security personnel and building occupants became a major component of our security program.