Security-By-Design – Stakeholder Conflict Resolution
In our interview with a land transport security manager, the project design phase was identified as their most difficult work issue. The sheer number of parties involved in a contemporary building project, as well as the uncertainty surrounding human threats, can make it difficult for an appointed professional to get their security design concerns on the agenda. High magnitude expenses and aesthetic design compromises are common conflicting interests.
In general, there are three levels of stakeholders involved for every physical security project. Conflict resolution and management takes different forms depending on the relative power of the security professional. Bargaining power depends very much on the site’s context, so for an international manager, prioritising security in one location could be a breeze, and the other a hurricane of competing interests. Where territories have not recently experienced a terrorist attack or believe that the government is handling all credible threats, complacency can be a significant barrier to comprehensive security-by-design.
Increasingly, the consultant needs to be aware of local and trans-national legislation that relates to recommended or even mandatory physical security features. These can be used in negotiation with other public authorities that have their own requirements and concerns.
For example, prevailing urban design guidelines may not allow for wall-like perimeters. The consultant may come up with a clever solution that utilises greenery for screening and prevention of intrusion. Or, assuming the site is at very high risk, the consultant needs to be able to negotiate with public body representatives and convince them of the need for special consideration, for example a visually deterrent 3 meter wall or anti-climb fence.
Recognition of the importance of the built environment to national security has led to increased cooperation between public and private expertise, including in research, published guidelines, and industry standards. Many proposed solutions are now multi-purpose and integrated, fusing interests of multiple agencies. Urban greenery and security can be highly complementary, by use of planter boxes with vehicle-stopping power. Integration of physical and virtual security solutions can be more environmentally efficient, and be in line with the switch towards a more technically skilled workforce.
Political will and support in national defence against terrorist and violent extremist threats is vital for the consultant. As statutory bodies are prone to focus on and prioritise their own interests, the consultant may sometimes need to utilise a variety of public security documents, or bring in officials (e.g. police) to emphasise the seriousness of a threat.
Project Participants: Other Consultants & Subcontractors
At the start of a project, consultants should convene a security-centric kick-off meeting. Usually at this point, site conditions will be known and there is already a guiding architectural concept. This meeting is for stakeholders to share or highlight the key security requirements, based on project type, use, and function. The consultant also will elaborate on the Do’s and Don’ts before architects and engineers refine the design. This can include façade orientation, blast resistant doors and materials, and CCTV security system power and redundancy requirements. Much of this will be based on past attack lessons learnt, industry best practice, and new technologies.
Mixed use and megadevelopments are becoming more popular, which means standard security designs are not realistic. Added to that, every project, context, and threat landscape is of course unique, and this has to be reflected in professional risk assessments. Information security and monitoring system designs are extremely complex, so basic familiarity with products and their use is required in an engaged consultant. This facilitates selection, discussion with, and supervision of subcontractors.
After the kick-off meeting, it is important to have:
- Monthly updates on security item progress
- Quarterly meeting on progress, incorporation , challenges (or challengers), and changes
By following a regular schedule as given above, a good start and frequent contact will ensure all parties are aware of project security aspects and their inclusion. This facilitates monitoring, accountability, and the ability to deal with issues as early as possible, which is much less expensive. This is security-by-designs major advantage over a retrofit, or late stage feature and systems incorporation.
Some Solutions For Stakeholder Conflict Resolution:
- Tender Document – Initial Agenda
The security kick-off meeting will ensure that major recommended items and expenses are included and accepted in the initial budget and design. This is also helpful for the contractors engaged, as they can prepare their own budget estimations for the works to be carried out which will be reflected in the tender documents and bidding process. If a contractor is inexperienced with regard to materials, features, or technologies involved, they are better able to search for relevant subcontractors at an early stage. Later on, they may ask the security consultant for candidate or product input/recommendations as part of their subcontractor selection process.
- Scheduled Monitoring and Updates
After the security meeting and tender approval, it is fundamental to hold follow-up meetings and updates to ensure items are kept on the agenda and properly implemented. As design changes and challenges may occur throughout the development’s progress, monthly and quarterly contact is important to allow for rapid problem identification, negotiation, and solution.Even during the construction process, sites of symbolic importance may need to be consistently monitored for vulnerabilities. This will involve cooperation between on-site security personnel and professional parties involved in implementing strict access controls and material checks.It is also possible that as a building begins to take shape, new vulnerabilities will be identified and prevention and emergency response plans should be adapted.
- Dual-purpose and Integrated Solutions
To minimise conflict between designers, many public guidelines in seeking to avoid the appearance of ‘securitised architecture’ propose aesthetic solutions to security problems. Architects and engineers are also increasingly familiar with security-focused measures, in particular visual screening techniques, blast-resistant walls, and safe Mechanical and Electrical design. Applying multi-purpose solutions including ideas from Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) may even have added effects of reducing a property’s carbon footprint and future operational requirements.Due to the complexity of new projects and the urban security landscapes, the ability of a consultant to consider integrated solutions in their projects, fusing information and physical security design for example, is set to be a core aspect of the professional skillset.
- Public Guidelines and Mandates
Legislative and governmental support is perhaps the most powerful tool in public and private projects. This is especially so when in a context of low historic violence and public complacency. Political will behind the consultant’s concerns also needs to be transmitted to property owners, occupants, and space users. They have to be aware that the responsibility for safety and security is shared, and human threats are inherently unpredictable.
- Depict Security Items as Investment and Economic Solution
Carrying on from Point 4, the consultant is best placed to argue from the perspective of security as an investment. A well designed CCTV system is able to capture petty and white collar, not just political crime. Security-by-design can also reduce manpower and possibly even operational expenses in the long-term, while enhancing legitimate use and beautification of the spaces, according to CPTED principles. For retail spaces, this raises income potential.Reputational and goodwill damage done to organisations after an incident, if it is proven that measures were lax, can also be highlighted in the security-centric meeting by use of case studies. Bad design can reduce options for emergency responders and inhabitant escape in the event of an emergency. The property and brand could then become iconic in a negative way.A future major incident at one hotel location, for example, will probably necessitate a hugely expensive retrofit of their other properties to restore customer confidence. Prevention will never be a truly perfect process, but it is definitely a worthy investment. Experience and the good judgment of the physical security consultant has to convey what is necessary and what is overkill for a particular site. The budget for any particular organisation must also be carefully considered, and may necessitate cheap adaptive options – not the absolute best, but good enough for a likely scenario.
- Risk Assessment
The risk assessment is a consultant’s core responsibility. This has to be carried out and presented with a mind towards problems such as complacency, architectural compromise, and resistance from owners regarding expense.We decided to ask some of our practitioners what materials and resources they typically rely on in their presentations and meetings to convince other project stakeholders. It is not enough to simply hand over a technical report.
What to do and use in a meeting or presentation?
- Data is one way, although showing it isn’t enough. The numbers and past attack case studies are usually related to the professional’s past and current projects. Stakeholders can then see how the features proposed address real vulnerabilities and improve safety and security.
- Amongst materials used, footage can be very beneficial. Instead of merely screening the material, the security professional must point out design vulnerabilities in the attacked site. Audio visual information and applied case studies are more engaging, and therefore more convincing, than text and diagrams.
- Security features and products used in past and/or other projects are often given as examples in presentations. This helps convince owners and architects that design compromises are limited, and conveys industry norms and minimum standards in physical protection
- Of course, articles that show government concern, support, recommendations and requirements are extremely useful
In conclusion, although other stakeholders in the built environment are more on board with security prioritisation nowadays, increases in project size and complexity still make conflict resolution difficult. Security professionals and property owners will find the process and budget burden greatly eased by adoption of security-by-design at concept stage. Aside from a good scheduling strategy, they can benefit from political will and support, integrated solutions, and applicable case studies, with dynamic information presentation for the purposes of negotiation.