Magazine

Parking Security Vulnerability Assessments

James Johnson

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the perceptions of many as far as personal security is concerned. The social and psychological impact of potential terrorist acts on everyone was immeasurable. These concerns affected virtually every physical environment in the United States, including parking facilities.
Fortunately, we have not experienced other attacks in the U.S. since that fateful day. And we have returned to a relative state of normalcy in the security world. But as consultants, we have continued to stress to everyone involved in security: Good security before Sept. 11 was good security after Sept. 11. The basic and routine needs of most of us changed little, if at all.
But the methods by which we assess our risks and vulnerabilities have improved, primarily because of efforts by the federal government as they relate to the critical infrastructure. We now have a relatively new term that applies to most environments, including parking: Vulnerability Assessment (VA).
Simply stated, a VA is defined as the process of analyzing threats to and the vulnerability of a parking facility; determining the potential for losses; and identifying cost-effective corrective measures and residual risk. Several questions can be answered by performing a Vulnerability Assessment:

Do security perceptions match realities?
What is the likelihood of criminal activity on the
property?
What might that criminal activity be?
How much security is enough?
How do we avoid costly knee-jerk reactions to events, both perceived and real?
Do different parking environments require different responses?
What is the best approach to allocate limited funds to security measures?
When does detection of an intruder or trespasser occur?
What measures delay an intruder and for how long?
How long does it take for parking employees or law enforcement to respond?
What are the necessary improvements, and their costs, to increase security effectiveness or to reduce the consequences of security system failure?
You will notice that the words "detection," "delay" and "respond" were highlighted. These three keys to good security must be analyzed and included in your efforts to define solutions to your security risks. They are self-explanatory, but essential in your deliberations.
When you begin to develop the formal VA process for a parking facility, you can get involved with mathematical formulas that assist you in determining the likelihood of various criminal events occurring. But you can simplify that process by performing a simple effort of establishing a matrix of possible criminal events, and then defining what solutions are available for protecting against each of those risks. This should include the input and advice of the local law enforcement agency with whom you work. They can give you a good idea of criminal activity in your neighborhood, past and present. And you must know where you have been, security-wise, before you can establish a path to improved security.
So, ultimately, we must determine appropriate solutions for the vulnerabilities we identify: a Physical Protection System. Your Physical Protection System will provide for the integration of people, procedures and equipment for the protection of assets or facilities against theft, vandalism, robbery, assault, sabotage and other malicious attacks that can occur in the parking environment.
Security systems in place today must also be inspected to be certain they provide the levels of protection you require. Take nothing for granted. This means, as an example, that you regularly review the images obtained from your video recorders: Can you actually see the face of the person walking past the camera? Can you see the vehicle description? Do the intercoms (emergency call stations) have sound quality that allows you to understand the words of a person who is screaming or shouting? Do all the intercoms work properly? And especially, do your policies and procedures work efficiently for today's conditions?
In closing, we must emphasize that security is no more or less important than it was three years ago. Your specific situation will help you determine the relative level of security that is most appropriate and cost-effective. The performance of a simple Vulnerability Assessment will help you keep costs down by applying your limited dollars to the most appropriate solutions.

Jim Johnson is head of James L. Johnson Associates. He can be reached at jjohnson@jljsecuritypro.com


Side Bar 1

Typical components of a parking security system:

Well-defined written policies and procedures
Revenue control systems
Lighting systems
Barriers such as gates, fences, turnstiles and mantraps
Access control to include physical and electronic measures
Robbery and trouble alarms
Closed circuit television cameras
Video recorders
Communications systems (intercoms, phones, etc.)
Site patrol on foot, on bicycles and in vehicles

Article Abstract from November, 2003




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