Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reader Comment – 12-07-09 – Security Systems

Yesterday D. Coleman, a security integrator from Atlanta, left a comment on a blog about fences that I wrote last month. It is a lengthy comment that is well worth reading. Some specific points deserve special attention. Guard Fatigue D. Coleman writes: “Even the very highly motivated, however, have to contend with the numbing of routine that follows from the fact that security problems happen very rarely.” This security fatigue is a very real problem where security personnel are not actively involved in some activity. A gate guard that is frequently processing incoming and outgoing vehicles and personnel can remain relatively alert for extended periods of time. A security operator monitoring a bank of video monitors quickly becomes complacent and loses some attentiveness. Even security personnel on patrol can become mentally numbed to their surroundings if there is no mental stimulation. I spent a lot of time on guard duty in my time in the military. I spent time in dress uniform standing at doors to secure communications facilities and time in battle dress on patrol at ammunition facilities. At no time did I spend more than two hours ‘on post’. As a supervisor of guards, I was routinely required to physically check every guard post at least once every two hour shift. The military understands that guards become inattentive over time. Security managers need to keep this in mind when they are planning for and supervising a security force. Personnel at stationary posts need to get up and move around periodically; this requires that someone else cover their post during that period. One solution is to have a combination of fixed and roving security posts with personnel rotating between positions. Or a security supervisor can fill in at a fixed post while that operator/guard conducts random physical checks of points within the security perimeter. System designers can help assure the attentiveness of personnel monitoring electronic security stations by making periodic changes in the display. This can take the form of having random administrative alerts to which operators must respond; this can also serve as a real time measure of operator responsiveness. False Alarms D. Coleman makes the important point that: “electronic security can also make a site less secure.” The point being made is that false alarms from an electronic security system can either detract the attention of security personnel from actual security events or they can create such mistrust in alerts that actual security events are ignored. An electronic security system probably has to have some level of false alarms. The complete absence of false positive alerts probably indicates that the system sensitivity is set too low and will allow undocumented penetrations. A balance between the two competing concerns will have to be reached by system designers. Coleman makes the point that multiple, overlapping systems can help make this balance easier to achieve by allowing for quick checks of alarms by one system with the output of another system. System Design These are just some of the problems that security managers have to deal with in developing security systems for high-risk chemical facilities. Security managers are either going to have to be trained security professionals or they are going to have to rely heavily on the work of outside consultants to design and manage security systems. Facility management will have to decide which is the appropriate solution for their facility, but even that decision requires a level of security sophistication that most chemical professionals are ill prepared to make.


Security Systems said...

Security problem is not an easy thing to deal with. But security systems does make the work much easier these days.

PJCoyle said...

My response to Security Systems comment can be found at: http://chemical-facility-security-news.blogspot.com/2009/12/reader-comment-12-19-09-security.html

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