Grounds Security

Perimeter Surveillance Needs More than Just Cameras

With the demands placed on them by internal employee-driven security concerns and cybersecurity issues, many security directors and managers have had to turn the protection of the outside of their facilities—the company parking lots and building exteriors—over to external cameras. If they have the luxury of either a contract or proprietary security guard force, that can certainly supplement the work of outside cameras. But, sometimes the eyes in the sky can use the help of the employees who come and go through the various access control points and need to tell each other, their bosses, and the Security Department about any “casing behaviors” from potential criminals or trespassers they see in the parking lots or around the building perimeter.

camera perimeter fence

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Even buildings with good ID-badging and access control systems in place, can be vulnerable to theft, vandalism, or intrusion before, during, and after regular business hours. Transients can set up their sleeping areas near the building, which is why the organization or its landlords need to make the necessary investments in sufficient cameras, bright candlepower exterior lights, and landscaping maintenance. Lights need to be maintained, bulbs changed or improved, and the camera system views need to be adjusted to match lighting, weather, or daylight savings time changes. Employees need to be reminded that any signs of transient or homeless activity must be reported to the Security and Facilities Departments. Homeless people can create graffiti, damage or steal pipes and wires for recycling, use or break water supply or sprinkler valves, dig through unlocked trash dumpsters, and even gain access to second-floor balconies or offices, based on low-height building designs.

Employees need to pay careful attention to their safety as they walk to and from the parking lot to their buildings, especially if they work late or arrive early. Car thieves know they have a window of 4 to 8 hours to steal a car out of the employee lot. And since employees often leave cash or expensive personal items in their cars, like tools, tablets, or even handguns, an unpatrolled parking lot with no camera coverage is a prime target area for thieves.

Access control for the facility may be strong at the primary entrance points, but not so sturdy at common areas, like a set of exterior picnic tables, where employees take their food or smoking breaks and prop the entrance door open to go back inside. Anytime employees are allowed to use side or rear “employees only” entrances, they may trade security for convenience and start leaving doors open, unlocked, propped open for ventilation, or even go as far as not using or disabling the door alarm equipment.

And while exterior cameras can offer security support for the building perimeter, the Security and Facilities Departments need to work as a team to make certain their needs are both met by the camera vendor. As an example, a security camera vendor installed a set of exterior cameras on a museum ship, instead of on the adjacent pier. The camera views were useless at least twice a day because they went out of frame during the low and high tides that affected the vertical movement of the ship. The IT/IS Department also needs to be involved in all camera discussions, to help with the most effective image captures and storage via hard drives or to the cloud.

With a contract or proprietary security guard patrol in place, officers need to be told and reminded that one of their functions is to look for signs of homeless camping activity, gang graffiti, illegal use of water or electrical utilities (including any exterior server or telephone rooms), or any evidence of attempted break-ins (damage to exterior doors, hinges, locks).

While the interior of any facility houses the important human and data assets, the exterior company grounds demand equal protection.