Five Key Security Challenges in Construction

Published: March 28, 2024
Overcoming security challenges in construction requires a holistic approach and a harmonized effort by integrators, contractors and clients. PARRADEE/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

In the modern construction landscape, it has become increasingly complex to implement effective security measures for new builds. Vulnerabilities, inefficiencies and unexpected costs are encountered quite often. Here, we will delve into five unique obstacles when it comes to securing new constructions, and we’ll share ways to minimize the pain and risk experienced by partners and clients. 

#1 Security is an Afterthought 

What’s Happening: Whether the end user or the general contractor hires the security integrator, they aren’t included in early planning. Often, security must fit its way into what’s already in motion with design, door hardware, walls, cabling pathways, head-end spaces, etc. 

The Pain: Conflicting scopes and poor rough-in details for partnered trades result in having to expend excessive energy to close the gaps. Usually, once security integrators are involved, it’s too late to change things, and there are fewer options, which may not address threats, risks and vulnerabilities.  

Our Recommendation: Engage the entire project team in pre-construction planning. A trusted partner who thinks beyond technology and uses a comprehensive approach will understand the need and align the solution. 

#2 Technology is Overdesigned 

What’s Happening: Often, the focus is the build, according to design and code, because it is challenging to anticipate details that drive efficiency, safety and comfort. Many believe that appropriately designed technology equates to a safe and secure environment. This leads to overdesign of systems and reliance on product without procedure. 

The Pain: On its own, technology does little. The overemphasis on systems and products drives costs that might not align with actual threats, risks and vulnerabilities. In schools, there is an overreliance on cameras and video. However, procedures for access prevention and emergency alerting create a safer environment. In healthcare, siloed systems with shared functionality are not leveraged across departments, leading to inefficiency and waste. 

Our Recommendation: Technology is necessary, but it needs the people, procedures and training to back it up. Understand an environment’s threats, risks and vulnerabilities first; only then can you identify the best combination of technology and procedure. 

#3 Security Solutions are Proprietary 

What’s Happening: With new construction, the installation company often chooses security hardware or software that can only be sourced and serviced through them. This means it’s likely not compatible with other technology solutions. 

The Pain: Proprietary hardware and software limits ongoing support, which creates challenges and delays. When future needs cannot be met in every instance, clients experience expensive and complicated “rip-and-replace” cycles. 

Our Recommendation: Futureproof your investment and choose hardware that is open to multiple types of software with successful maintenance track records. Make sure the installation company isn’t the only one capable of sourcing and servicing the system. 

#4 Door Hardware Considerations are Limited  

 What’s Happening: With door hardware, the focus is often on meeting scope and life safety. Client operations, cost, serviceability and operations can be overlooked, which can create roadblocks later. 

The Pain: During inspections, door hardware components often fail because they don’t meet code. Sometimes, openings don’t function, which can lead to frequent change orders, unexpected delays and higher costs. 

Our Recommendation: Find a partner who thinks beyond just meeting scope and who, instead, advocates for everyone’s best interest. Meet early and often with the security integrator, door-hardware contractor and building-code representative. 

 #5 Design Fails to Align with Environment and Use 

 What’s Happening: Clients are rarely involved in design, and low-cost solutions are frequently chosen. Therefore, there isn’t much consideration given to space usage, safety needs, and the unique building structure and environment. 

The Pain: Partners might encounter unexpected obstacles, such as cloud ceilings, white wire for a black ceiling or waterproof locations needed for exit signs. The space might not align with how traffic flows or where activities happen. The security solution might be too complex or not robust enough, leading to changes and unexpected costs. 

Our Recommendation: Work with a partner who will engage clients in the design phase to understand their needs comprehensively. Lean on them to push for efficiency with solutions, as well as integrations that solve not just one problem but, in fact, as many problems as possible (e.g., doors that don’t merely lock but, instead, lock, sound a local alarm and push out an email notification). 

As we grapple with evolving security demands in our world, it is evident that overcoming these challenges requires a holistic approach and a harmonized effort. Through innovation, collaboration and a commitment to enhancing new construction, we can pave the way for safer, more resilient environments in the future. 

 Brent Van Haren serves as president and visionary at SecurAlarm, a 30-year-old family business. Van Haren is on the PSA Leadership Committee. 

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