Before The Security Camera, Businesses Need A Comprehensive Plan

How to design a physical security plan that’s ready for primetime

Last Updated:
August 7, 2023
| ~
min Read
Meg Moore
Marketing Writer

When it’s time to Netflix and chill with a criminal mastermind, there’s quite a list in the queue. From casing casinos and canvassing the Met to taking hostages and reconning bank vaults, Danny Ocean, Thomas Crown, Hans Gruber, and Neil McCauley captivate cinephiles—and also inspire copycats.

Whether thieves pry into Dior, dig a tunnel to the Apple store or drop dimes after stealing $200,000 of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s monetary measure, loss prevention experts have seen more than their fair share of Oscar-worthy criminal attempts on company surveillance cameras—with audio as the screenplay.

While these high-profile heists make headlines—and award-winning films—they also create opportunities to reexamine security cameras for businesses’ overall protection plans. Most outline major events, but security professionals also must consider the seemingly mundane risks. Incapacitated drivers inadvertently create drive-thru windows, scammers install credit card skimmers, disgruntled customers channel their inner John Wick, and shoplifters use five-finger discounts. Each of these security issues adds up and can significantly impact a business’s bottom line.

Assessing these risks and creating physical security plans backed by enterprise security surveillance, provide effective ways to handle issues and avert disasters. Here’s how to create a strategy to secure your people and property:

1. Assess and Understand Potential Risks

Every business has specific vulnerabilities and potential problems. Before embarking on drafting a proactive security plan, it’s important all stakeholders identify unintended possibilities to better understand an organization’s specific risks and security needs.

For retailers, shrink, by shoplifting, organized retail crime, robbery, or employee action, are common concerns. Bank tellers may fear external theft, while branch managers also must consider insider sabotage and fraud. School leaders need to guard against unauthorized access and violence. Manufacturing facilities should consider equipment tampering, espionage, and hazardous material risks. IT leaders face cyberattacks. And unfortunately, all businesses need to plan and prepare for an active shooter situation.

An important part of this analysis includes conducting a threat assessment. Start by analyzing your specific location, industry, past incidents, and other contributing factors to help identify which emergencies could happen. Rank the risks from moderate to severe to help prioritize planning and customize these initial incidents for a business’ specific situation. Understanding these potential threats allows business owners to reduce avoidable problems and in the event of an emergency, respond swiftly and efficiently.

2. Identify and Make Security Decisions

A good start to creating a physical security plan includes some initial actions and decisions: 

  • Compile an inventory list. List and frequently update company assets, including stock inventory items and vehicles and machinery.
  • Identify the most important company documents. Prioritize integral documents and communication and consider how to secure those that require the greatest protection.  
  • Outline alarm response. Decide how to respond to business security camera alerts, knowing that time is of the essence.
  • Tap outside expertise. Independent security consultants can help identify threats others may not consider.

3. Harden Your Perimeter

After identifying and ranking each risk, investigate different ways to harden physical security. A layered security model with both physical and technical controls creates redundancies. The goal is to increase or eliminate the effort required for thieves to enter or attack a business, giving people more time to detect an issue and respond quickly.

Schools and hospitals rely on access control systems like electronic door locks and video intercoms to manage visitors. Retailers use retail-theft devices, like RFID security tags on expensive merchandise. Manufacturers install fences, security lighting, business security cameras, and alarms to secure facilities.

Ensure access points like doors and gates have secure locks and protocols like ID checks for entry. Dedicated security cameras for businesses help monitor for threats and facilitate response.

4. Prepare Your People

Make sure to include employees as part of a comprehensive security plan, especially for emergencies. In order for people to help, they must be prepared to act and that requires ongoing training on executing security protocols properly during a crisis. Security plans with corresponding training should include:

  • Conducting drills for scenarios like fire, severe weather, or a lockdown.
  • Designating specific roles for staff like directing evacuations, performing first aid, or supporting lockdowns.
  • Identifying safe zones and muster areas.
  • Contacting employees quickly using mass notifications, warning systems, or automated alerts.

Engaged and appropriately trained employees are a business’s most valuable security asset. And practice makes perfect. Coordinating drills with first responders to simulate emergencies will hone their reactions to stress, chaos, and adrenaline.

5. Plan for Specific Incidents

While outlining day-to-day precautions establishes the foundation for a solid security plan, experts also advise creating documented protocols and contingency plans to cover a wide range of specific possibilities. These could include:

  • Medical emergencies: Standard procedures for employees to assess injury or illness, how to contact EMTs, evacuation plans, locations of first aid kits and AEDs, and identifying employees trained in either first aid or CPR.
  • Workplace violence: Lockdown procedures and designated safe rooms, emergency alerts to notify employees, coordination plan with local law enforcement, and post-event counseling resources
  • Natural disasters: Evacuation routes and meeting locations, advance securing facilities protocols, damage assessment plans, and backup communication methods.
  • Cyberattacks: Data breach and malware response plans, technological security controls like multi-factor authentication, encryption to protect sensitive data, and regular software updates and patches.
  • Power outages or IT failures: Inventory of backup on-site power sources, like generators and other uninterruptible power supply options, priority systems to maintain during a blackout, equipment shutdown procedures, and securing employee evacuation equipment, like flashlights, headlamps, and glow sticks.

Each of these documented protocols should also cover response, continuity of business operations, evacuation, damage assessment, and external reporting measures. It’s also imperative to review and update plans, either annually or as threats evolve.

By taking time to assess risks, harden security, train staff, and plan for contingencies, business leaders, managers, and frontline employees can respond effectively in tense moments when trouble emerges. Comprehensive planning pays dividends by providing employees the confidence and resilience to act in the face of potential threats—setting the stage for a new genre of the true-crime blockbuster.

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