Boosting security of buildings an ongoing exercise, industry professionals say
SINGAPORE — Facility management and security professionals are aware of the growing concerns over terrorism and have already been taking steps to enhance building security standards over the years. These include putting in place surveillance systems, keeping a record of visitors and conducting regular drills.
Members of the building and facilities management industries made these points on Wednesday (Oct 4) at the 4th International Facility Management Conference, as participants sought to address the challenges facing their industries. The event was held at Marina Bay Sands.
Just this week, Parliament passed a new law to mandate that security features be incorporated into selected buildings as protection against terror threats.
The Infrastructure Protection Bill, passed on Monday, makes it a legal requirement for certain buildings to incorporate security features during construction or renovation, also known as security-by-design. These features could be blast-resistant walls, vehicle barriers, and surveillance cameras.
These buildings will typically be those that house essential services, are iconic, or have high human traffic.
Mr Tony Khoo, president of the International Facility Management Association (Singapore), said that compared to its regional counterparts, Singapore has been progressive in adopting security-by-design.
This is due in part to multi-national corporations (MNCs) introducing security requirements from their home country to Singapore when they set up office here.
Larger facility management companies organise regular terror drills, and practise sealing off a building in the event of a chemical attack, he said.
Speaking at the conference on Wednesday, Mr Desmond Choo, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, stressed that security threats and attacks are increasingly becoming the norm. The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas is an example.
“There will be greater demands on security by residents and tenants that may stay in the building,” he said. “Designing with security in mind will help to save lives and also reduce longer-term security costs.”
Mr Isaach Choong, managing director of AIP Risk Consulting, a global security and risk consulting services firm, said that the role of facility managers would have to evolve to adapt to changing methods used by terrorists.
Risk and security management has become essential to an organisation, and facility managers running day-to-day operations would play a crucial role in counter-terror strategies, starting with identifying possible targets such as a prominent tenant in the building or a landmark next door, he added.
“Facility managers should not only consider terrorism as a ‘people risk’. The wider impact to reputation, disruption to operations, and financial loss should also be considered,” he said.
Beyond risk management, the efficiency of operations and cost benefits will have to be evaluated as well. Mr Khoo said that security measures could add to costs for building owners or developers.
For instance, placing restrictions on vehicular access to a building may mean that passengers have to alight further away. “Do we have to build covered walkways (for) them?” he asked.
The life-cycle cost of incorporating new technology is another issue. Facility managers may not have the know-how to use the technology, and bringing in specialists to do so would add to spending.
SECURITY TECH SHOWCASE
At the conference, various security technologies ranging from drones to facial recognition technologies were showcased. Among them was a metal detector from South Korea.
The Mago Snooper consists of a pair of compact waist-level poles, and is as powerful as traditional doorframe metal detectors. It costs around S$4,000 for both poles, whereas a doorframe model would cost around S$7,000 to S$8,000.
Mr Nelson Tee, managing director of Chh Construction System, a construction and security installations company, observed that the poles are less intrusive. “You don’t feel like you’re forced to go through a doorframe. It’s not nice for certain important visitors who have to walk through a doorframe and they have to take out their (personal belongings).”
Another item is the Nightingale Security T025 drone, with a flight time of 30 minutes. It can be programmed to take off, patrol and land autonomously. It comes with a base station, and can be recharged wirelessly once docked. Brought in last month from the United States by electronic security equipment firm Dou Yee Engineering, the drone can be used to survey critical infrastructure or commercial buildings with an operational radius of 4km.