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Art as Risk Mitigation

Written by  John Glenn, MBCI Wednesday, 26 January 2011 17:25

The Internet is a wonderful thing.

It provides a fast, low cost means to share ideas.

Couple that with a business continuity planner's innate ability to think of "off-the-wall" relationships and you get, among other things, art as risk mitigation.

Don't Plan for Terrorist Attack

People who have been to my Web site know that terrorists are not this planner's primary concern. Most -- not all, but most -- terrorist actions mimic an accident.

Planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers and a B-25 that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945. It makes no difference if the plane is deliberately flown into a building or if is accidentally flown into a building. All things being equal, the result is the same.

I was corresponding with a fellow whose management is concerned with terrorists. Neither the identity of the person nor the company is critical to this piece.

My first thought was how to keep terrorists out of the building.

"Go to any Israeli embassy or consulate and see how entry is controlled there," I wrote.

In case you don't have an Israeli embassy or consulate handy, I'll share what is done.

When you get past the security guard -- normally your typical "rent-a-cop" -- you come to the Israel government door.

Buzz in, state your business, and usually you are admitted.

Not into the building.

Not into the office.

Between two doors

Into what I term an "air lock" similar to the entrance of a "clean room."

Like a "clean room," there are two doors. One door must be securely shut before the second door can be opened. Same situation is in most prisons -- or so I'm told.

The double door entrance provides several advantages.

First, because the space between Door 1 and Door 2 is relatively small -- one or two people maximum -- the possibility that the door will be "rushed" by Warren Sapp and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive 11 is nil. (Sapp might be hard pressed to get his bulk between the two doors himself, never mind another person or 10.) Most reasonably strong doors can withstand the battering of one or two people.

Second, there are ways to "inspect" the visitor for weapons while he or she is trapped between the doors. Terrorists determined to commit suicide as they murder innocents are trapped with the bomb; set it off and they (and only they) die. The mission is foiled, and that is what we want.

I am not privy to Israeli security practices (other than what anyone can see). However, I know the Israelis seem to have a pretty good record of guarding offices and airplanes, so I am inclined to recommend Israeli procedures to protect people from terrorist threats.

From the Outside

Then I thought, "A terrorist might not need to get inside to commit murder." The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the Saudi barracks were both attacked when trucks became bombs and the perpetrators walked away unscathed.

Trucks need not be a terrorist's tool to endanger a building and its contents. A run-away fuel truck also can be a serious, albeit "innocent," danger.

So I need to keep trucks away from the building.

Anti-tank cones are effective, but hardly attractive.

And here is where "art" comes into play.

There are two ways I can think of off-hand that can keep vehicles at a distance and still not be labeled an eyesore -- trees and statues. Would a statue need additional "internal fortitude" to prevent a bomb-on-wheels from approaching a building? Maybe, but given the nature of bombs, maybe not. Perhaps the would-be murderer would hesitate to bump into a strategically-placed piece of art for fear of a premature explosion. Trees, of course, could serve the same purpose, and probably at a far less cost.

Trees have the disadvantage of blocking light, especially when they are in their full glory. That could put personnel at danger from rapists, muggers, and other criminals.

Younger trees also are more pliable that concrete and steel.

Nothing High Tech

There is nothing particularly "high tech" about either the basic "air lock" or the statuary. Certainly there could be lots of high tech involved, and with it high(er) costs.

Nothing is 100 percent safe except perhaps a deep underground bunker. While a nation's leader may be able to afford such protection, most organizations can't. Most organizations also are not likely to be terrorist targets. Likewise, more organizations are not "hazardous environments."

Still, there are things we can do to mitigate risks, be they from a terrorist or a bad driver.

The trick is to make the mitigation measures something people can appreciate.

Like statues that serve multiple purposes.

Art as risk mitigation.

The eyes have it.

John Glenn, MBCI, (JohnGlennMBCI.com) is an enterprise risk management - business continuity practitioner with more than 13 years experience; he invites comments on this article and others at his Web site to Planner@ JohnGlennMBCI.com.