When you think of assessing the security of your site, you may immediately think of locks, doors, and security alarms. But what about the outside of your site? Your grounds—your parking areas, entrances, fences, and your park— need to be assessed as much as the inside of your buildings do.
External security, however, comes with its own set of unique considerations. For example, you have to secure a larger footprint than your building itself, and your access control is limited. No matter what your site looks like or where you are located, you have to worry about weather issues, property lines, and landscaping—things you’d rarely worry about during an internal security audit.
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10 things to include in your external assessment
The following items should be included in your security assessment:
Lighting: Lighting is critical when it comes to keeping your site safe; in fact, done wrong, lighting can encourage crimes or even obscure them. (If a light is pointed at a camera, that can blind your camera, for example.) Use lighting to define and illuminate your perimeters; that way anyone who comes onto your property at night can’t sneak through the shadows. Interested in learning more? Read our guide to lighting.
External threats: They may not be able to get into your building, but dangerous individuals might be roaming the area and even on your grounds. Be aware of who is on site, and restrict it, if possible, to authorized individuals only.
Weather: Weather is always an element of risk, although the location of your site dictates the exact risk. On the West coast, you’ll be at risk for wildfires, while in the midwest you will be at risk for tornadoes and blizzards.
Vehicles: It’s easy to overlook cars and trucks as weapons, but vehicles can be very dangerous. They can be used as car bombs, driven through crowds, or rammed into buildings. Be aware of how close vehicles can get to your building, and consider using bollards to protect people and buildings from vehicles that may go offroading. For more information on bollards, read our guide on the subject.
Your perimeter: It’s important to understand your perimeter. If you don’t want trespassers, you need to know exactly where your property line is, and be able to monitor it. You can do this by using a variety of methods: geofencing, physical fencing,or lighting, for example. Read more about perimeter security in our guide to fencing.
Parking: Your site should have at least three parking areas: employee parking, visitor parking, and sensitive area parking. Think of it as external access control; you don’t want every employee or any guests driving around your loading dock.
Surveillance: How easy is it for people to see into your grounds or building? Can your site be monitored from another location? For example, a former client of mine discovered an activist group was across the street, monitoring their lab. Be aware of your neighbors. Also know where workers might be spied on after hours. I often tell clients that the best place for me to learn what’s happening in their organizations are the bars and restaurants around their facilities.
Local regulations: When you implement a countermeasure you do have to pay attention to local ordinances - can you put up a perimeter fence? Is the lighting too much? Be sure to check in with authorities and your own company’s guidelines before building anything.
The building envelope: A small sliver of space between the outside of your building and your walkway or road. Often this area is where your utilities are: fire emergency connections, generators, electrical connections and other hook-ups. This area is also usually protected by landscaping or rocks. It’s important to make sure they are secure. Can these hookups withstand a weather event? Also, is the landscaping around them too dense? There’s nothing wrong with making the area attractive, but your utilities need to be accessible, and you don’t want to inadvertently create a place for people to hide.
The dumpster: No one wants to look at a dumpster, but when dumpsters are hidden too effectively, they can cause problems. We've seen a couple active shooter incidents where people stored their guns at the dumpster, throwing the gun over a fence into the dumpster and then visiting it later in the day. Dumpsters can also hide drugs and bombs, so it’s important to keep your dumpsters away from fences and visible.
External security is your first line of defense
Internal security is important, but external security is the first step to keeping intruders outside of your building and off your site. By paying attention to your external security, you can keep your site, grounds and people protected.
Ready to develop an external security audit? Talk to us now about assessing your site.