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For many people, a trip to the airport is the most potent reminder of terror in our new age of heightened security. We wait in long lines to be X-rayed and metal-detected. We see guards everywhere, often accompanied by dogs. We find checkpoints bristling with new technology such as sophisticated wrong-way exit-lane monitors. Cameras poke out from every nook and cranny to watch our every move.
Our country’s collective apprehension and increased scrutiny in public places have become post-9/11 facts of life. The good news is that it opens doors for contractors who can perform security and life-safety work, which is not confined, of course, to airports and limited to familiar systems such as card-reader access or CCTV. Museums dedicated to protecting priceless artwork and government buildings that must control and monitor pedestrian and vehicular traffic will all be looking for more secure security systems.
As writer Darlene Bremer points out in her article “Getting Physical”(which begins on page 46), upgrading current security systems to include biometrics or other newer technology looks like a promising market. And tying security together with lighting, fire alarms and other functions—an integrated building systems approach—is another one.
Thomas Hammerberg reminds us in his article (which begins on page 42) that fire, our ancient friend and nemesis, is something that can and must be better controlled. He recounts a Rhode Island nightclub fire that could have been prevented if better-integrated systems—one of the themes we return to often—had been implemented. And better codes, which were adopted after the fact. An ounce of prevention, as the old saying goes, is worth a pound of cure. In this fire, better prevention would have saved dozens of lives, a reminder that the work you do in security and life safety is vitally important.