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The first line of defense.


IT ALMOST SOUNDS MILitaristic: "Protecting your perimeter" conjures up images of old war movies showing a general exhorting his troops the day before a big battle to protect the first line of defense. The idea is that defenders can get fresh troops to reinforce the point of attack and drive off the oncoming hordes.

Obviously, fenced-in premises are not battlefields, nor are parking lots filled with troops; however, today there exist new threats and new ways to combat those threats. These are areas that should be carefully guarded to deter problems in the most sensitive areas of security.

Perimeter protection is a broad term that generally encompasses the circumference of an area the first line of defense, for inclusion in a total security plan. While traditional perimeter protection involves barriers such as fences or the physical walls of a facility, the rapid growth of technology in the electronic security industry is playing a major role in providing a comprehensive, integrated security package.

In developing a perimeter protection plan, security professionals must determine how much protection is needed for a facility based on potential risks. The more risk a company faces, the more comprehensive a security protection plan should be. A security manager can identify security concerns by asking the following questions:

] Does the risk involve protecting people, property and assets, proprietary information, or a combination? Is the major security concern theft, vandalism, robbery, or personal threat?

] How does the business operate--24 hours a day, business hours only, or late night operations? Is there interaction with the public?

] How large is the physical area to be protected? Does the facility have numerous entrances and windows? Are aesthetics a concern?

] Are there special security considerations such as storing volatile chemicals, inventorying assets outside the facility, or handling large sums of cash and securities?

Once security risks are identified, a security manager can assess how much protection is needed and determine the most cost-effective way to obtain protection. Effective security planning should start at a facility's outermost point. Since security managers assess specific risks to their installations, no set strategy or formula exists.

But a strong perimeter protection system includes several layers of protection--a fence, lighting, sensing devices, closed-circuit television (CCTV), door and window protection, and access control. Each layer should be integrated to alarm and report an intrusion to a proprietary security monitoring unit, a central station, or local law enforcement agency.

In addition to traditional physical protection methods, security professionals today have many other options. A large corporate complex, for example, might be concerned with protecting employees and facilities. A fence might be used to border the grounds aesthetically. Lighting the grounds well at night, particularly in parking areas, is probably necessary as a basic convenience as well as a deterrent to crime.

Remote monitoring from CCTV cameras can provide additional security in the event of a problem. If the complex includes a research facility and protection of proprietary information is essential, access to the facility can be more difficult by the addition of an access control system on the exterior of the facility, which helps ensure that only authorized personnel enter the building.

On the other hand, if the complex is a manufacturing facility or distribution center with product inventories outside the premises, fence protection is more critical. Buried seismic sensors or cable can detect movement in surrounding areas. Combination microwave and passive infrared detectors can detect motion and body heat and can be triggered to activate flood lights and sirens to frighten and deter intruders.

An example of a small area with a high degree of potential loss is a branch bank. The security concerns are broader since different protection requirements must be considered for both business and nonbusiness hours.

In addition to protecting assets, employee and customer security must be taken into account. Perimeter protection should be more concentrated and sophisticated. In addition to doors and windows, other possible exterior attack points such as automatic teller machines, night depositories, and drive-in systems must be included in the protection package. And because of the higher risk level, an in-depth assessment of the facility's construction--glass, metal, masonry, etc.--must be made to ensure proper selection of detection devices.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN ELECtronic security now provide better system design possibilities for varying applications. Technological advances provide advantages such as faster detection and response rates, greater ease of operation, and lower error margins, therby offering better overall security.

Depending on the level of security, perimeter protection can be extremely sophisticated. While an outside fence by itself once was considered a deterrent, the addition of fence protection devices has become more prevalent. Buried sensors and cable along a fence can detect and track movement. Sensors placed directly on fences can detect vibration. Microwave and passive infrared detection beams can cover a larger fenced-in area to detect intrusion.

Lighting, once a convenience, is now a basic for good security planning and an excellent deterrent. Lighting can be present automatically to turn on and off at specific times, or it can be triggered by other sensing elements within a security system. Pairing lighting with loud sounders and flashing lights enhances security even further.

Effective perimeter protection systems should have CCTV. Cameras today are smaller and more sophisticated than ever before and are priced reasonably. Charge-coupled device (CCD) or "chip" technology has made it possible to find new applications in CCTV, permitting new outdoor installations in hard-to-service areas.

Perimeter protection can be as extensive as an application demands. Good security systems anticipate potential problems and protect an area from unforeseen events. The security risk is likely to be low for a factory that manufactures widgets that cost three cents each. But high-risk businesses such as financial institutions or electronics firms can easily justify the need for more sophisticated perimeter protection.

Door, window, metal, and masonry detectors are available in at least five security classifications to meet defeat resistance requirements for low-or high-level security applications. Accessories are available with shielded housings, extra tamper switches, multiple relays, and mountings that are recessed or surface-mounted to meet specific security levels.

Good perimeter protection has other benefits. Reducing security risks can have a positive effect on insurance rates, even if a business has never had a problem in the past.

Take, for example, a distribution center with insufficient security. During a five-year period, the facility never had a break-in. But in their planning, managers failed to protect the facility's perimeter fully, citing cost as the reason. As a result, alarm contacts on roof hatches were never installed.

Eventually, burglars discovered the weakness in the system, and within months a series of break-ins and robberies occurred. When a review of the system revealed the security weakness, the simple, inexpensive alarm contacts were installed to thwart future break-ins but too late to prevent the thousands of dollars in losses that had occurred already.

Visibility is another key to effective security, a dramatic change from the days when security was supposed to be secret. Today, signs and decals publicizing that security alarms and equipment are installed serve as a deterrent to unwanted intrusions. Cameras should be just as visible as fences.

PLANNING IS ABSOLUTELY CRUcial to good security. It is important to know what activities take place within a facility to avoid misapplication of security system components. A security manager needs to select the right components for a facility's needs and not expect products to function in ways for which they are not designed.

Security consultants, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers are available to advise businesses on an appropriate level of protection and the types of security devices available. Security managers should take advantage of such expertise and services.

Finally, the emphasis on perimeter protection has changed. Where passive items such as gates and fences were once the rule, now the focus is on active technology such as microwave devices, infrared motion detectors, and card access control systems.

The challenge of the future is to be aware of new threats and new ways to combat those threats. As upgrades in technology progress, smarter chips will provide us with smaller, less expensive devices. Better protection will be available. Biometrics will become more prevalent. Systems will become more automated, self-testing, and provide more detailed information. We will have more information--faster--traveling over longer distances to help make better decisions. No longer, then, can perimeter protection lie in a category with unnecessary costs because the first line of defense will be the best.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:perimeter protection
Author:Hoffman, Gail
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1989
Previous Article:Perimeter protection P's and Q's.
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