“Security-by-design” aims fall short, and building costs spiral as a result

A report claims that despite an increased commitment to “security-by-design” principles, the industry is still spending significant time and money post-build to fix issuesA new report from Brivo claims that, while security is a new priority in building design, a mismatch between ambition and reality can lead to spiralling costs. The results of its research into integrated physical security in building design by Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) practitioners have been published in a report called The State of ‘Security-by-Design’: Is Security an Afterthought in Building Design?[registration]. The report claims that despite an increased commitment to “security-by-design” principles, the industry is still spending significant time and money post-build to fix security issues, risking dire retroactive effects.

The report surveyed 800 decision-makers in building design across the US, UK, and the DACH regions. The results suggest that physical security is more important in building design than ever. A decade ago, security was not considered a top priority, but it is now a top three concern—only safety and sustainability were seen as more important.

The report claims that AEC practitioners have responded to this demand, and 56 percent now have a process for integrating security into building design, and 41 percent are currently implementing such a process. There is also a good understanding of the need for physical security to be an integral part of design, rather than “patched-in” later, with 94 percent of AEC practitioners agreeing. However, reality is falling short of ambition. When responsible for security post-build, many report that fixing physical security problems adds additional costs as high as 20 percent.

“Time and money spent fixing security issues post-build are a problem, but it’s the retroactive effects that can create real issues,” said Paula Balmori, Director of Global Security Design & System Integrations, Brivo. “Failing to reach milestones can trigger contractual clauses that lead to damages, and clients can even end up taking legal action if delays are excessive and lead to a break of contract.”

When asked about the greatest barriers to implementation, respondents cited regulations, budget constraints and design and aesthetic conflicts as the main problems they encountered, reflecting a change in priority that the industry has yet to fully grapple with.

But demands for integrated physical solutions are here to stay: 89 percent of respondents reported that security was a part of the design briefs they received, and 88 percent have seen a rise in customer demand for integration.

“It would be madness today to design a building and leave plumbing, heating and lighting as an afterthought to be figured out later—similarly, we would not expect construction to be postponed because of issues with the planning of these key utilities,” said Balmori. “Physical security needs to be seen the same way. Too often we see sub-par solutions put in place because not enough thought was given to security at the design stage. The good news is that the industry understands this issue—now, they just need to make sure that the results match this understanding.”