Access is the primary control established to create a secure facility. The cameras and all the video we sell are more often forensic. Access control can and has prevented crimes and incidents. It probably has prevented more criminal behavior then we can ever truly recognize. However, with everything we have done for visitors and occupants at the front door, what have we done about vehicles and vendors? Essentially, our industry is barely scratching the surface of truly securing buildings, because we have left out the most dangerous possibility: truck bombs.
With all the effort our industry has made with the access of people and their guests combined with what we read about in the news both here and abroad, it is surprising to see how easy it is to access any building through the loading dock or freight area. Establishing a trusted vehicle and vendor program protects people and property from some of the most damaging of threats, truck bombs, theft and uninsured vendors. Generally, when it comes to analyzing security concerns, vehicles pose the greatest potential risk. Managing vehicles and controlling their access is an essential component to a safe workplace, campus or residence.
Most security directors responsible for protecting property and people understand there are certain scenarios that at one time seem impossible to stop. Eventually, someone comes up with an idea, the benefits outweigh the costs or hazard, and the products and services become prevalent throughout our industry. This could be said about access control, visitor management and video surveillance.
More recently, in front of many malls, high-profile buildings and protected streets, you might see bollards. Over the last five years, bollards have become a frequent reminder that part of building design incorporates vehicle security. However, this does not protect loading docks, causeways and gated communities from unauthorized access. Bollards on the outside of an entrance, does not protect the building from a truck entering a building on the pretense of making a delivery.
Mitigate vehicle-based risks
Introducing additional procedures to existing staff, provisioning an easy to use software program, and establishing meaningful guidelines to vendors is a tremendously cost effectively way to mitigate vehicle-based risk. Vehicles are the preferred method of transport for terrorists, thieves and uninsured vendors. We are seeing more and more security directors realizing the potential harm and using software, like they have with visitor management, as the antidote.
Even in places where visitor management is impossible, like malls or college campuses, security directors realize knowing all the vehicles on campus provides incredible information about what is going on. One product that address and solves this problem is ShortPath. Witnessing Shortpath vehicle security system in action at Time Warner Center was incredible. Handling a performing arts center, residential complex, mall and hotel, the Shortpath (www.shortpath.net) system provides all the authorized users the ability to identify vendors, manage their insurance requirements and schedule when necessary. Guards handled each delivery in matter of seconds.
Concerns at home and abroad regarding vehicle-based threats have led to a new requirement that vehicle security should be a component in every comprehensive security program. The best way to administer access of vehicles to an area, analyze their access, check-in the driver and maintain the relationship of driver to vehicle to vendor is through vehicle security software. There are many simple products in the marketplace, but I believe the key is an expandable system that allows the integrator to sell additional services as well. Security, logistics, operations and accounting elements work hand-in-hand establishing important functions in any facility. Take for example, maintaining a record and schedule of incoming deliveries and the vehicles arrivals and departures. Buildings can charge back usage and establish a new operational revenue stream. If there is heavy traffic, a vehicle scheduling system can show “over-booked” status.
Maintaining, managing and supporting vehicle security is a service. At the heart of that service is distributing software to customers that allows them to administer their own operating procedure. Because of the nature of tenants, buildings, retail stores, all of this software is best hosted as a cloud-based service; and best managed by a third-party with a level of expertise in vehicle security.
This is good news as it provides another avenue to recurring revenue. Similar to visitor management, the sale of vehicle security software (VSS) provides a service model for integrators includes installation, training and support fees over the length of the service.
In this segment of the security industry, vehicle security has been a fixed-cost sale that provides more opportunity to general contractors than integrators. Even when the bollards are hydraulic, the decision to raise or lower them should not be based on what it says on a clipboard. A comprehensive vehicle security program will register who lowered the bollard, what vehicle entered and when. The program will report to whom that truck belongs to and when was last time it arrived.
The true opportunity in our industry is developing a long-term comprehensive strategy to protecting a building from both known and unknown vehicles. It does not start and end with bollards. The beginning is establishing a set of procedures to identify trusted vendors and their vehicles and to understand and record over time who should be trusted.
A trusted vehicle program answers some very important questions for every guard
Who owns the truck? Who is in the truck? What is supposed to be in the truck? Where is the truck going? Where did it come from? How long should it be here? When should it be leaving?
This does seem like a very difficult set of questions, process and procedure. It also seems like answering these questions might create a dramatic decrease in vehicle throughput. That is not true with a properly managed trusted vehicle program. With the right software, by using vehicle identification and drawing on an existing knowledge base, a vehicle can be identified and processed in less than 30 seconds.
With the integration of a license plate reader that number can be reduced to 10 seconds.
Vehicle process and procedure as a standard practice is a new line of products and services for the security industry. At the heart of that practice is establishing a partnership with a known solution provider who understands the opportunity and issues that come with provisioning these types of services. My suggestion is to do your research on loading dock systems, vehicle security and vendor management. It is a growing segment in the industry and provides all integrators a tremendous opportunity to extend their services.
Frank Santamorena, PSP is the president of Security Experts Consulting & Design LLC, located in Rhinebeck, N.Y.; www.Security-Experts.us.