While international terrorists plan their next attacks on government assets, the government is quickly and decisively ramping up its defenses in this post-9/11 society. You cannot even mention “government projects” without at least alluding to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 or homeland security. It’s simply no longer possible. Our collective mindset has changed forever.
As I write this, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has again heightened the level of security. And while no one and no building can be considered free from the danger of attack, no other set of buildings is at greater risk than government assets—federal, state and local alike.
With billions of dollars coming from the U.S. government to fund homeland security initiatives, the projects are getting underway in a hurry. From airport security to biometric access control and new perimeter technologies, government buildings are adding protection with little regard to whether it’s in the budget or not. The budget would be irrelevant if the building didn’t exist, right?
As I pass the National Naval Medical Center each morning on my way to work, I see a new fence going up around the property. Across the street at the National Institutes of Health, guards closely examine the trunks of all vehicles. This heightened awareness and attempt to thwart terrorists from targeting these facilities also symbolizes an opportunity for construction professionals to target government assets. The dollars are out there for companies that can effectively and quickly install life safety and security systems in government buildings.
Government agencies are scrambling to protect buildings, employees and their respective jobs by ensuring all that can be done to prevent a terror attack is being implemented. They are partnering with electrical contractors and systems integrators to make it happen on a fast-track basis. Sept. 11, 2001 changed the entire landscape of how fast these projects are done. There is a new sense of urgency never before seen in this country.
No agency head or administrator wants to be the one that failed to act fast enough to beef up security.
New homeland security legislation and accompanying funding will facilitate billions of dollars of work to protect power plants, water supplies, chemical facilities, military bases and the gamut of government buildings.
With the infrastructure already breached once in a major way on 9/11, the cost of life far outweighs the cost to install the proper systems. A collaborative effort between the government and the systems installation and design teams will make it happen—sooner, rather than later.