Views from our Experts
Security in High Performance Buildings: Four Pillars to Success

In this article Frazer Holmes, NDY’s Global Market Leader for Security, discusses the importance of early collaboration with security experts in the design process to deliver smart buildings.

Why you need a secure high-performance building

Optimising High Performance Buildings for maximum efficiency is a key focus for asset owners and facility managers. Optimisation involves integrating all major building attributes including operational efficiency of its occupants, energy efficiency, durability and lifecycle performance. To effectively support efficient building operations, occupants need to be able to perform their roles safely and securely. Security plays a key role in creating this operating environment, through the appropriate deployment of security treatments, guided by a philosophy and framework of Risk Management.

By considering security early in the design of a high performance building  there are efficiency benefits to be gained over a building’s lifecycle by reducing maintenance costs of security technology, maximising loss prevention throughout the building itself and minimising manpower requirements. All of these can be facilitated by considering security in the architectural layout of the building itself–supported by a professional security consultant early in the design process.

Cyber, Physical, Electronic and Procedural Security: The differences explained

A secure high-performance building diminishes the probability and impact of security incidents, however there are different facets of security that create a robust and resilient building environment. Generally, these facets are separated into cyber, physical, electronic, and procedural security.

Cyber security is a collection of technologies, procedures and practices designed for the protection of computer systems from an attack, theft, unauthorised access or damage to hardware, software, electronic data or network. In high performance buildings, cyber security takes centre stage when compared to traditional high-rises, particularly due to the increased reliance on integrated services platforms, sensor nets, and sophisticated control systems that could allow a malicious actor unprecedented control and access to a building’s operation.

On the other hand, physical security refers to the physical protection of people, tangible assets and property from circumstances that may result in damage or loss. Typically, this includes the physical layout of a building and the barriers, locks, controls, walls, vaults and safes allowing access to authorised people and disabling access to unauthorised intruders. Physical security is most effective when integrated into the architecture and has proportionately more architectural and aesthetic impact the later it is considered in a project.

Within the context of physical security, electronic security is the deployment of security technologies such as CCTV, Electronic Access Control and Intrusion Detection Systems, Intercoms and the like in order to enhance the security operations within a building. Security technology such as cameras and swipe cards are often the first things that come to mind when people think of building security, but they are just one tool in the toolbox and are often used as a way to better leverage security manpower in keeping a building secure.

Finally, procedural security describes the measures concerning a process, policy or an established routine that must be followed (i.e. Standard Operating Procedures) for monitoring and response by building staff. Procedural security is what facilitates effective security manpower deployment and reinforces the responsibilities of non-security staff in security activities. Security officers and facilities staff such as receptionists, without proper training or guidance through a suite of procedures can lead to inconsistencies and inefficiencies in security operations.

Integrating Security Approaches

Prior to the integration of the types of security mentioned above, Cyber, Physical, Electronic and Procedural security were traditionally applied as separate components. However, as threats have grown more sophisticated, and building owners are expected to respond more rapidly to the constantly changing environment, omitting any of these security types can still leave gaps in your security plan.

Cyber, Physical, Electronic and Procedural security all have their parts to play and they rely on each other to enhance and maximise their effectiveness. Like many things, with security, the whole solution is more than the sum of its parts.

Examples of this interdependence include:

  • CCTV cameras being ineffective at supporting a timely response to a security incident without live monitoring by trained security officers
  • Cybersecurity measures such as firewalls, encryption and cyber intrusion detection become moot if attackers can steal the physical IT hardware storing sensitive data using brute force at their leisure off site. Critical IT equipment must be located in a physically secure environment.
  • Physical Security Design such as a minimisation of building entrances can reduce the need for expensive Electronic Security deployment.
  • Electronic Security such as CCTV and Access Control Systems rely on Cyber-Security measures to remain operational in the face of a technical attack. Hackers who can subvert the security systems will enable a much more effective physical intrusion into a building.
  • All the electronic and physical security in the world can eventually be overcome by determined attackers given enough time. At the end of the day it is the manpower facilitated by procedural security that will bring a resolution to security breaches.

Collaborative Design Approach

Oftentimes, security is not considered until the architectural or fit-out design is already completed. This is often because security is solely seen as a minor building service that is not impacted by the larger building design context.

The assumption that security consists purely of security guards, CCTV, access control cards or ID Badges is generations out of date. Modern security solutions and integrations within High Performance Buildings require a holistic and tailored approach which is best applied through early engagement with specialist security consultants rather than engagement with building services engineers later in the building design process. By doing so, High Performance Building owners and operators can realise the benefits of a secure environment over a building’s lifecycle.

About our Expert

Frazer Holmes

Global Market Leader – Security

Frazer specialises in providing security solutions for critical infrastructure, commercial, government and defence agencies. This includes specialist design and planning advice, within the context of the agency’s specific risk environment. His solutions are tailored to meet individual client’s operational, financial and policy needs and expectations within the relevant frameworks.

With over 15 years as a specialist consultant Frazer possesses a keen understanding of security from a physical, electronic, cyber and procedural standpoint, bringing a holistic security approach to the forefront of our client’s operations. “Security is a service with incredible growth potential, but also a vital importance to business operations,” says Frazer. “It’s not just about how we avoid loss or intrusion, but how we can minimise the impact, and fully restore our operational capability.”

Frazer has over 20 years’ experience in the security industry. He possesses a Bachelor of Science in Security, CT, Intel and a Bachelor of Science in Communications and IT and is a (SCEC) Endorsed Security Zone Consultant.

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