While much of society has changed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting valued assets is still crucial for an organization and facility to remain secure. Specifically, the need to protect the people responsible for critical infrastructure has never been more evident. Whether it’s healthcare, transportation, energy, or banking and finance, it is essential to keep society functioning.

With this top of mind, numerous factors need to be considered when developing a physical security plan, regardless of the facility or organization in question. Best practices will need to be examined to adapt to a facility or organization’s specific needs, especially keeping the following considerations in mind.

  • Preventing overcrowding of public spaces
  • Balancing the physical protection of financial assets and laying the framework for an investment into security services
  • Updating aging security systems
  • Maintaining privacy of both employees and the general public
  • Securing information and data

Healthcare facilities, as well as construction sites and other critical industries, are some of the first to have to rethink physical security with the ongoing pandemic in mind. Compartmentalization, or the physical separation or sectioning off of key areas, is a solution being incorporated to limit access points and provide spaces sealed off from the public for workers to safely put on protective equipment.

With the use of compartmentalization, assets will be protected beyond the typical physical security procedures of badges or access point controls. In these situations, physical security protocols may need to be extended through tactics such as compartmentalization. Facilities may need to have controlled entries/exits, occupancy limits and real-time tracking systems maintained by integrated electronic security systems.

Looking to the future, other organizations that host large gatherings of people will have to rethink what it looks like to gather in public. By assessing the current situation, more work in the future will rely on increased automation, autonomy, sensors, foot traffic management and other controls to limit the number of people in close proximity.

Understanding the paradigm shift from information to people to emergencies takes planning and proven methodology to mitigate both immediate and potential future threats. The process of developing a physical security plan now includes virtual meetings to sketch updated evacuation plans, compartmentalization tactics and flow of traffic design with clients and stakeholders, while collaborating to plan for future security program challenges.

In terms of physical security, compartmentalization is a valuable solution when applied appropriately to the unique needs faced by each facility or industry. With rapidly changing health safety concerns, physical security is vital moving forward into an uncertain future.

 

Having physical security technology on your side can mean increased facility safety.

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by
Shaun Freeny is director for physical security with 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell, with more than 15 years of experience providing superior quality security consulting, modeling and planning solutions for clients. His specialties include security systems, security operations effectiveness and cost control, as well as threat, risk and vulnerability assessments.