Like all other industries, the real estate industry has been tremendously affected by the tragic events of September 11th. Security concerns are now dominant in the minds of owners and managers. Debates are ongoing, even at the highest levels of the industry, about how to fully protect the physical safety of personnel, buildings and their occupants, as well as how to ensure the security of corporate information systems and other technology investments.
Real estate companies within each sub-market of the real estate industry, including the multifamily, commercial office and industrial sectors, are focusing on possible preventative and response/crisis management measures. The ultimate goal is to establish company-wide comprehensive security plans and disaster recovery procedures for personnel, real estate assets and mission-critical enterprise information and infrastructure. These disaster preparedness efforts encompass both macro approaches, including portfolio-wide and corporate-level plans, and micro measures, involving site-specific actions to be taken on a building-by-building or project-by-project basis.
Owners and managers who integrate existing and future technology into the systems they are developing to tackle these immediate and serious concerns will be best empowered to identify, implement and broadly communicate the most advantageous security and crisis response policies to their personnel and constituent tenants.
On a macro level, and as one of their highest priorities, companies are in the process of reviewing and, if needed, developing emergency security procedures and manuals to address terrorism concerns and other security threats, such as fires, floods and other casualties, all of which are now being looked at with heightened awareness. As the first part of this process, many owners and managers are developing checklists that identify the types of risks they might face, such as chemical and biological threats, bombs and other acts of warfare, and the measures to adopt in an attempt to address them. The use of the Internet as an information source and research tool is one of the key ways owners and managers can get a handle on the scope of these risks and stay apprized of how other similarly situated companies are formulating strategies to address them.
Where security procedures and manuals already exist, owners and managers are now dusting them off the shelves and giving them strict scrutiny. Companies without previous plans are hiring consultants and turning their immediate attention to the preparation of comprehensive security procedures. These include, among many other efforts: the development of evacuation procedures, especially for high-rise buildings; the adoption of tighter tenant and resident screening policies and employee background checks designed to minimize terrorist risks; the evaluation of future building structural designs to better prepare them to absorb catastrophic attacks; the establishment of systems for ongoing dialogues with city emergency personnel to coordinate crisis management efforts; the performance of routine "lessons learned" analyses to continuously improve security measures; and the establishment of sound company-wide communications plans to keep all personnel, tenants and residents informed of best security practices.
From a micro and property-specific perspective, owners and managers are reviewing assets on a case-by-case basis to determine their vulnerabilities. Depending on their needs and financial resources, companies are implementing measures that include: enhanced access control systems with 24/7 monitoring devices for buildings, parking lots, loading docks and other common areas; more frequent fire alarm tests and evacuation drills; stricter policies requiring identification from all persons entering the buildings, including building tenants, residents, employees, and visitors; increased presence of on-site security personnel, and procedures for scrutinizing all building deliveries. …