BOMA Survey: Security Tightened, Tweaked After September 11

While the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have caused building owners and managers to re-evaluate and tighten security systems and procedures, few have made radical changes to their operations, according to a national survey commissioned by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The survey, conducted by CEL & Associates, Inc., found that most participants had comprehensive emergency preparedness plans largely in place prior to the events of September 11. Rather than making radical changes to those plans, the attacks led building owners to strengthen existing security systems and procedures, such as adding security cameras, increasing security personnel and either installing or more rigidly enforcing card access systems. Security measures most widely employed before September 11 include building alarm monitors (80.2%); lobby security controls (74.3%); surveillance cameras (64.9%); and employee background checks (60.9%). Perimeter barriers (14.9%) were cited as the least common security practice, with less than 6% of the respondents adding such barriers following the attacks. The single security upgrade most frequently utilized following September 11 was tighter vendor security, which included requirements for vendor identification, vendor check-in, and requests for vendors to conduct employee background checks. Survey respondents indicated far more concern with overall emergency preparedness than with terrorism. For instance, 56.9% of the respondents indicated security concern over fire safety; 34.7% were concerned with civil unrest; and 32.7% identified power disruptions as a major concern. In comparison, only 11.9% acknow!edged terrorist attacks as a potential threat, and 6.9% had concerns regarding biohazards. "Being prepared in general . . . appears to be more important than concern over ‘one time’ or ‘unlikely’ events," the report says. Less than 35% of the participants said safety concerns would influence their decision to acquire or develop an office building in the future. Of those who said safety would affect future acquisition or development, building location was the top concern. "This survey confirmed that building owners and managers by and large had comprehensive emergency preparedness plans in place prior to the events of September 11 and while those systems have been enhanced and strengthened, our industry did not need to make drastic changes to respond to tenant concerns," says BOMA International President Sherwood Johnston, III. "Without a doubt, the terrorist attacks placed new emphasis on workplace security. But, what we are seeing is a tendency by owners and managers not to overreact, but to act sensibly in providing a safe working environment in our urban areas," said ULI President Richard M. Rosan. "The response is appropriate to the level of risk involved." The survey included responses from more than 200 ULI and BOMA members throughout the U.S. on specific security measures in place before and after the terrorist attacks, and on more broad-based actions taken to assure the safety and security of those working in the buildings and the buildings themselves. Founded in 1907, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International is a dynamic international federation of more than 100 local associations. BOMA International's 18,5400-plus members own or manage more than nine billion square feet of downtown and suburban commercial properties and facilities in North America and abroad. The mission of BOMA International is to advance the performance of commercial real estate through advocacy, professional competency, standards and research. For more information, visit www.boma.org.

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