Why need security consultant at the design & construction stage?

The Background

Increase in physical threats like terror, crime, kidnaps, thefts, vandalism etc. has made it necessary that the security measures deployed at commercial & residential buildings are well thought, seamless & integrated to make people safe & secure. Mixed used development brings its own opportunities as well as challenges. Rehabilitation of the existing settlers as part of the cluster redevelopment adds to the complexities from security perspective.

As per the news report by leading English daily Times of India in its Mumbai edition on 14th May, 2011, even Government of Maharashtra has taken note of need for incorporating securing measures in public building. From security perspective, Public Building has been defined as one that is occupied by at least 1,000 people or has a built-up area of minimum 1 lakh sq ft. The government (as early as next month) may make it compulsory for new “public buildings” to be blast resistant. Under the proposed rules, civic bodies and planning authorities will have to undertake a structural audit of these buildings every five years and the police will have to do a security check every alternate year based on the threat perception. The required amendments might be made as early as next month to Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act and to Development Control Regulations, which dictate how a building should be constructed.

The government is actively considering the report submitted by committee which was set up to suggest security control regulations for public buildings. The committee categorized glazing as the riskiest component in case of a fire or blast and proposed that the buildings’ front not have more than 30% glazing. Also, it mandated that buildings be constructed in such a way that only a few columns fall in the event of a blast. Besides this, it recommended that parking be banned in public buildings’ basement, columns be steel plated and driveways be constructed parallel to the buildings, not at right angles. It also called for additional reinforcement of the front walls. Separate entry and exits should be constructed for people and goods and vehicles should be stopped at a distance called the stand-off point.

The Challenges

The challenge is to deploy appropriate security measures (blast mitigation, technology, physical as well as operating procedures) keeping in mind the business practicalities, cultural sensitivities & people convenience. The measures deployed externally as well as internally must be unobtrusive (hence, not intimidating), minimally obstructive (hence, better convenience) & at the same time, should be visually aesthetic.

The security plan to safeguard an entity should be able to mitigate identified threats across the threat matrix yet should be flexible as well as scalable to deal with new & emerging threats. The countermeasures should be cost effective, business friendly & should not impede the commercial or operational aspects of the business. Security as per the threat profile & business sensitivities should come at the minimum possible cost (capex as well as opex).

Value benefit of a security consultant

Besides overcoming the challenges as described in the previous section, with the inputs of a security consultant in terms of space & operational requirements, security provisions can be designed aesthetically & cost effectively. Specialized anti-terror & blast mitigation (IEDs, suicide bombing or vehicle borne explosives) safeguards can be provisioned in the design & construction stage thus avoiding costly & time consuming retrofits. The security measures can be designed & implemented in such as way that they are not intimidating & are people & business friendly. With relevant inputs from the security consultant at the right time, wasted efforts & inconvenience of change management are, thus avoided. The security measures & technologies can be implemented in sync as the project progresses thus saving delays.

While there are many product vendors who offer security consulting as part of their services however their lack of objectivity & bias to particular technologies fail to bring desired credibility to the very purpose they are brought on-board to a project. Whereas, a pure domain consultant with years of experience in protective security in the commercial environment will always be able to design the security plan & procedures which are cost effective & are in the best interest of the client or the facility to be secured. Rather than looking at security as various silos, the security consultant looks at it holistically & ensures there are no weak links in the entire security chain- from structural safeguards, physical counter measures, processes, technology to relevant training of field personnel. You are only as safe as your weakest link, thus the consultant designs the security architecture with no single point of failure or in other words, idiot proof. For instance: so that the deployed technology works as intended, procedures are written for routine calibration, use & maintenance. Field personnel are trained on the deployed technologies & the associated procedures for routine day to day operations as well as emergency situations. The deployed technology as well as the procedures must not impede commercial processes & be people friendly. Hence, the technologies & the procedures must be well thought, integrated & seamless as part of the overall commercial environment. In the eventuality that an adverse event does take place; the management is trained to respond to the crisis with appropriate crisis management procedures. It is very important to note that responding to an adverse event, besides rescue & relief, includes containing & controlling the situation in the shortest possible time so as to limit the extent of damage to lives & property.

written by: Mr. Vikas Chauhan

With Masters in Business Administration, Mr. Vikas Chauhan has over 10 years of experience in Business Development, Marketing and Sales Operations. Having worked extensively in Middle East & India with leading MNCs & Indian Corporates, he possesses a global mindset. He has been instrumental in driving revenue growth strategies & business development initiatives in Technology & Security Consulting organizations in Senior Management roles. As Head of Business Development in Lotan Security Solutions, he is focused on Go-To-Market strategy, business growth & capability building across the gamut of Homeland Security, Consulting & Training Services.


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27 Responses to Why need security consultant at the design & construction stage?

  1. i had to go through it again since i could not grab the entire escence of the post in one go.That was a very articulate and logical point you make there.I appreciate you letting me know your thinking on this.

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  3. Melania Cuny says:

    It’s pretty interesting that the mainstream media has changed the way it looks at this recently dont you think? What once seemed like a never discussed issue has become more prevelant. It’s that time to chagnge our stance on this though.

    • Vikas Chauhan says:

      The main stream media along with govt. & corporates have changed their attitudes, rightfully so, because the impact of such events are immediate, severe & long lasting. What was initially a policy marker’s domain & a drawing room subject has now permeated to civil society where people are demanding safety & security as a fundamental right, which is not just on paper but in reality. Which does put pressure on various stake holders like govt, law enforcing agencies, corporates etc to act in the right direction. It can’t be brushed beneath the carpet now.

  4. Shirl Tagupa says:

    Interesting point of view. Wondering what you think of it’s implication on society as a whole though? There are times when things like this begin to have global expansion and frustration. I’ll check back to see what you have to say.

    • Vikas Chauhan says:

      Like I said in reply to Melania, safety & security has become one of the fundamental concerns of civil society which has led to change of attitudes in all quarters of society.

      Obviously, world has shrunk smaller & smaller due to advancement of technology, media outreach & socio-economic multi-continental legacies. Events of one place / country can have a far reaching effect on other regions or countries. Recent history is replete with such examples.

      Unfortunately terror & crime do behave similarly & leave their repercussions on a global as well as local level. Which means, it should be addressed both globally & locally. While at the global level some progress has been made but at the local level due to vested & parochial interests much needs to be done by respective countries or states.

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