The Restrata Blog

Adaptability in Security Design

Posted by Evan Kerr on Jan 15, 2018 9:22:22 AM

Often as security professionals, we can get caught up in addressing the design challenge presented to us, and we don’t consider the growth and change of both security system design, and the broader environment in which it resides. When examining the application of security treatments as part of the design and construction of a new building, or the retrofitting of an existing facility, there is a tendency focus on the problems in front of us, and we may not consider those that may occur down the line.

Future-proofing in security design is not a new concept, as providing a nominal quantity of spare capacity is standard practice for most designers, and commonly requested by end users. This will usually take the form of additional bandwidth and storage capacity, extra ports on a network switch, or similar measures in the application of technology that can be quantified as a percentage of the overall system capacity. The next step is to begin looking at the environment we are designing for as constantly changing and evolving. Drawings are static and the environment is dynamic.

While attempting to plan for future transformations of an existing environment may veer into the realm of crystal ball gazing, we can limit our adaptability planning to what is possible and reasonable. This could take the form of reviewing the masterplan for a developing community, or considering emergent technologies that may provide workarounds for proposed security treatments (e.g. the recent use of recreation aerial drones to bypass perimeter security fences). The most obvious example of a failure to plan for the changing nature of a site is the conflict between an outdoor camera’s field of view, and the tree the landscape designer planted a number of years ago. As the tree grows taller, it gradually blocks more and more of the camera’s field of view. This common scenario is emblematic of the broader issue; how will the security design, being implemented now, adapt to the changes that occur in the surrounding environment in five or 10 years’ time?

Regular review and refitting of security measures may be one solution, but with significant ongoing costs attached. Alternatively, as part of the design process, include a review of how the operational, built, and natural environments may change over time, and how a security design can change with them. Consider how an adversary might attempt to bypass the proposed security measures and how this can be countered, or the security system reconfigured to if this scenario occurs.

Sustainability as a theme is already a focus for the Dubai government and those engaged in the design and development of the city’s built environment. In 2016, the Dubai Municipality announced the Green Building Rating System, which aims to rate new buildings based on the implementation of green building standards. Under the scheme, buildings that do not meet the requirements to achieve the minimum bronze rating are not given permits. The Director General of Dubai Municipality, Hussain Nasser Lootah, explained that the initiative is designed to achieve high performance of buildings to promote human and environmental health by strengthening the planning, design, implementation, and operation phases of buildings. The concept aims to achieve a smart, sustainable city status for Dubai by 2021.

Security professionals can and must find ways to support the drive for sustainability within our own work, and one way of contributing is definitely in ensuring adaptability in security design is achieved. By considering the adaptability of designs to respond to the everchanging world around us, we create more resilient solutions that can better weather the tests of time.

Author: Evan Kerr
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Topics: physical security, security design

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