Layered Protection: An age-old security approach that still works

Published On
Aug 15, 2022

Layering technology at the exterior of the protected premises—sometimes miles away from the facility if necessary to protect the critical infrastructure—is an age-old security technique that still works. This practice begins with a consultative walk-through of the customer’s premises, and technology is selected based on what’s most appropriate to solve challenges or issues. Its principle is based on early detection, implementing technology so warnings are proactive and strategized.

Security seems to revert to “back to basics” like layered protection after an event unfolds.

In February 1993, a terrorist drove a truck into the World Trade Center parking garage, detonating a bomb beneath the North Tower. This event dramatically altered the profile of physical security in New York City (and other cities followed). Vehicles entering hotels had trunks and occupants checked. Other measures were implemented to extend the area of protection away from buildings to avoid potential harm to people. Concrete bollards, pneumatic posts and barrier devices to control vehicle access and prevent unauthorized entry populated the urban landscape; video camera surveillance became the norm.

Passive concepts

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), also known as Designing Out Crime, is a multidisciplinary approach that echoes the principles of layering and includes passive elements of architectural design in built and natural environments.

CPTED’s first generation centered primarily on controlling spaces for safety in public and private areas, lighting, landscaping and access-control road barriers to limit direct accessibility. The second generation of CPTED focuses on social strategies, such as neighborhood watch and engaging community culture.

For the systems integration industry, the concept of layering has become easier, with increased networking, open APIs and standards such as Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) that enables communication among different manufacturers’ devices and solutions.

OSDP was approved as an international standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission in May 2020, published as IEC 60839-11-5.

Consider these technologies as part of a layered integrated systems solution:

  • Barriers, gates and perimeter-sensing devices
  • Intrusion and motion detection
  • Audio detection
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Locks, intercoms and access control

With technological advancements, systems integrators can install fence sensors that send an email or text message to the end-user or property owner that activity and a potential breach was detected. Integrated with surveillance cameras, it can trigger video recording or send an alert to a central monitoring station where operators examine the footage in real time and ascertain whether responding authorities are required.

Adding audio to the mix, users or operators listen to any activity and deploy voice-downs and interact directly with intruders with two-way communications. These and other communication technology assist with verifying events to prevent false alarms and gauge the potential severity of the incident. Users receive live and recorded audio feeds for greater situational awareness, which is used to assist and direct first responders.

Let’s not forget one of the first lines of defense at the doorstep: locks, access control and intercoms. These devices are now high-tech and sophisticated. They can be hardwired or wireless, and have multiple user options and configurations ranging from basic keypads and cards to mobile credentials and biometrics.

Layering improves outcomes

Integrating or layering systems technology improves security and safety outcomes, combining components and devices into a single, comprehensive strategy. Ask a customer or prospect these questions to get started: What are your primary security concerns, challenges or issues? What do day-to-day business and operations look like, and what areas might need to be addressed? What specific regulations and compliances should be accounted for in the technology plan?

From there, systems integrators can devise the best techniques and safeguards to put in place—technology, training and otherwise—to ensure that if a direct attack or breach does occur, occupants have time to get to safety or react appropriately.

The most powerful layering comes from the expertise of a systems integrator who understands technology and can provide a professional, well-tested and expertly executed specification designed to secure and protect the facility and its occupants.

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