Cities and Municipalities: How to Secure Public Buildings

From city hall to the police department, all government buildings have two things in common: threats are high and the stakes are higher.

Even the smallest compromise can have lasting effects on a local government’s reputation and the community it serves.

While government buildings need to remain open to serve constituents, public access can threaten security—as was demonstrated last month at a Baltimore police station.

Below are five methods government safety officials can implement to increase security at city and municipal buildings.

1. Protect building infrastructure

Keep unwanted intruders out with a monitored alarm system that will dispatch authorities immediately in an emergency. Furthermore, ensure the building perimeter is Forced-Entry-Ballistic Resistant (FE-BR), or made from materials that are blast and force resistant. This includes fencing, doors, windows, walls and roofs. All should be thoroughly tested, and difficult to obstruct and invade.

2. Safeguard against fire and carbon monoxide

Equip the building with photoelectric smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. If sensors are triggered by smoke or rising CO levels, the alarm will notify emergency responders and alert government workers to evacuate. In case of a fire, three additional features can save lives and minimize property loss:

  • Heat-activated sprinklers to control a fire before emergency responders arrive.
  • Manual pull stations that trigger alarms and visual cues to notify employees and patrons a fire has occurred.
  • Duct smoke detectors, which shut down ventilation units and suppress smoke inhalation risks.

3. Execute emergency evacuation with ease

Government employees must be familiar with emergency alert and evacuation systems.

Alarms and visual cues can be used to notify all building personnel of an imminent threat. Notification can also be granted to higher-level government workers in the case of an isolated event. For example, mobile alerts can notify safety personnel at the exact moment a restricted area, such as an office or safe, is accessed.

In high-sensitivity circumstances, consider implementing a panic button, which will cause an alarm event and notify authorities.

Related Post: Keeping Employees And Stakeholders Safe In An Emergency

4. Implement limited access provisions

Security guards and restricted entry scanning equipment, such as metal detectors, are often the first form of access control utilized by government buildings. Access control, however, should be implemented far past the building’s entrance.

Disgruntled employees or persons who have gained access to your building by approved means, such as external contractors, may pose significant insider threats. Prior to granting access to restricted areas or information, implement personnel reliability programs, and ensure background checks are clear.

Furthermore access control systems, such as swipe readers, access cards and photo identification systems, can monitor patrons and government employees throughout a building, and alert proper personnel when access is denied.

Related Post: Visitor Management Solutions: A Vital Part Of Building Security

5. Keep watch 24/7, 365 days per year

Video surveillance is a non-negotiable standard to ensuring safety inside and surrounding government buildings. Surveillance deters crime, and serves as a reliable reference in the event of a questionable incident.

Building safety personnel can monitor video surveillance in real-time with the added benefits of motion-triggered settings in high restriction zones. When necessary, archived clips and video analytics make it easy for qualified personnel to review incidents, building traffic and recurring visitors.

How does your local government keep its buildings secure? Share in the comments below!

Image Source: Nemo