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


Kambic: There is no doubt that business has changed in the last 10 years. One of the primary shifts is to a much more concentrated focus on risk analysis, and understanding the scenarios your security operations may face in the future as well as today. The reality is that you must plan for all emergencies as effectively as possible, with more of an all-hazard approach of a response from the security organization.

Giles: For these types of facilities, I believe the difference was in the areas of visitor controls, package deliveries and truck/dock controls. Many of these facilities were relatively lax in these areas before 9/11. I tell clients all the time that if I want to enter a facility undetected, the easiest way is through the dock or posing as a delivery person. Unfortunately, that is still true today in some cases, but not as many as before.

Are there any procedures or technologies that you have implemented in the past 10 years that you probably wouldn’t have if 9/11 hadn’t happened?

Tello: If 9/11 did not occur, our buildings would most likely still be open to the public during business hours. Since then, all persons entering our buildings must interact with security personnel by presenting their ID badge or checking in with security as a registered visitor in order to be admitted into our facilities. This has had a corresponding exponential increase in the exposure of security and the demand for higher quality of security services. We have also seen a much greater level of partnership and communication between private sector security and law-enforcement/public safety at the local, state and federal levels.

Harrison: An overall enterprise risk approach that takes into account all elements of risk for the corporation, which has opened the scope and view of traditional security programs. This has far-reaching implications that impact all elements of security programs to include the incorporation of new and developing technologies as well as the development of more robust and detailed processes and procedures. Specific technologies include more robust non-proprietary access control programs, visitor management systems, employee threat communication capabilities, as well as explosive trace detection technology to name a few.

Kambic: It is difficult to pinpoint exact measures that have been taken as a result of the 9/11 tragedy because the security market has always been evolving over the last three to four decades. I do believe that it did increase the development and delivering of these technologies, especially in the areas of intelligence of CCTV. In addition to the physical controls and technologies, most buildings have implemented very specific training of the security staff that is critical to day-to-day operations as well as long-term plans. This training includes customer service, counter-surveillance, critical incident management and workplace violence.

Villarreal: There are many new things that we do differently now as a result of 9/11, one example is many commercial high rise buildings now require visitors to be pre-registered into a visitor management system before granting them access into the office tower. This was a major behavioral change for corporate America, as business people now cannot walk into an office building without being pre-registered by an authorized tenant with an electronic recording of their name, company, the purpose of their visit and who they are going to see. This type of screening process would never have been put into practice had 9/11 not occurred; in fact, when this practice was put into place, many people felt it was an invasion of their personal privacy, Today, it is an accepted business practice commonly used in primary markets in the high-rise commercial building sector.

Giles: In my opinion, the major risk that these facilities face is driven by workplace violence, not terrorism, in addition to risks such as thefts and accidents. However, there are many procedures and systems that have been implemented because 9/11 brought security to the forefront of the executives’ minds and allowed for expenditures that were previously on hold or just not recognized. One change that was very beneficial was an increase in the use of background screening of employees and the requirement for on-site contractors to do the same for their employees as well.

What do you think the future holds for corporate security operations?