The questions and doubts are proportional to the increase in incidents that almost daily reach me in different ways. Bands of criminals who take entire buildings, kidnappings at garage entrances, robberies and thefts in apartments, and underprivileged vehicles in parking lots are a short but blunt relationship of problems that affect the citizen, right in the most sacred place that is your building.
First, security in a condominium depends on four elements that are its bases: Standards, Human Resources, Infrastructure and Technology. It is not possible to reach acceptable levels of tranquillity and peace if these four pieces are not present and combined in their fair proportions. To these are added three other equally indispensable factors: supervision, culture of prevention of residents and relations with the environment.
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Norms: are the rules that establish the “Must Be.” It is a social contract of coexistence between residents. They must be accepted, practiced and monitored by everyone in the community. Each condominium can have at least three essential safety standards; access control, security operations and regulation of common use spaces. They must be written in simple language to facilitate their understanding. It is the responsibility of the building administration to make these rules known. Usually, the safety rules are added the coexistence clauses. This body of provisions provides the basis for separating the right from the wrong, so rewards and penalties should not be ignored. With the approval of the community, it is convenient to appoint a group of security officers who will have the power and obligation to administer with justice this micro system of coexistence and protection.
Security human resources: every condominium requires people directly involved with security functions. Whether they are hired guards, janitors, porters or residents who serve as supervisors in compliance with the regulations. The security guard must have in writing and know in detail the responsibilities of his position. The more tasks related to the protection of the property and its residents, the better. Leisure is a friend of distraction. Do not allow protection personnel to make decisions based on your criteria. In a condominium the safety criteria belong to residents organized in the Board. It is these who decide the limits of surveillance. A security guard must be kind in his treatment and firm in his conduct, so he must be empowered within the parameters of the norm. Precisely, the Security Operations standard serves to establish its action scenario and its ways of proceeding.
Infrastructure: is the set of real estate in which the activities of the condominium are developed, both in its public spaces and in more restricted areas. In the infrastructure are all constructions specifically designed for security (fences, walls, control centres, surveillance posts, etc.). A good part of the vulnerabilities of a condominium are in this important aspect. A major component of the infrastructure is pedestrian and vehicular access. They require special attention, because there all the elements of security must come together. The security infrastructure represents an additional challenge for architects when designing barriers and safe access but with a high functional and aesthetic sense.
Technology: are the systems and equipment that are used as tools to provide protection to people and infrastructure. It is a trend in large facilities, to centralize technological control in command centres for security. In them, systems or platforms are monitored and managed efficiently and with an integral sense. Having well-trained human resources is key to the correct operation of the technology. Remember that technology does not replace other resources, it only complements them in a more effective way. This category includes security cameras, keys and locks, electric fences, emergency buttons, alarms, etc.
The integration of standards, human resources, infrastructure and technology make up a security block, which, well designed and operated, generates positive results of great value for the condominium.
To this basic structure and security key are added on a second level, supervision, prevention culture and relations with the environment. It can be said that the combination and articulation of these three elements constitute the “software” of security, because they are linked to human behaviour, which in short can be the most fragile piece when protecting the building and its inhabitants.
Supervision: it is the guarantee that the security operates according to the norms and under the parameters that represent the tranquillity of the residents of the condominium. There is no security without the supervision of their processes. Verify that surveillance complies with established procedures, that people respect the rules of coexistence and that technology operates correctly is part of the power of supervision. Organised neighbours are called to supervise and control that everything remains normal.
Culture of prevention: it constitutes the set of safe habits of the community. This culture is not spontaneous, so it requires the practice and permanent exercise of the norms. It is a process of mutual trust building among residents. A door that some neighbour forgot to close leaves everyone vulnerable in the building. The formation of culture implies always keeping in mind key messages of prevention, so that a fluid and continuous communication between residents facilitates and maintains the atmosphere of tranquillity that people demand. If you are responsible for the security of your condo, invite experts to talk about the issue, post prevention and protection information on the billboards and post positive messages that remind people of the value of being safe. The goal here is to keep the positive side of the “top ofmind” security of the community.
Relations with the environment: do not pretend to isolate or evade the reality that surrounds it. The main vulnerability of a condominium is the unconsciousness of its residents. The paranoia of insecurity is produced by uncertainty, not knowledge. When a relationship of closeness and trust is established with other condominiums in the area, with the police and other involved nearby, a powerful network is woven that allows sharing experiences, transmitting information and nurturing good security practices.
Security requires an active role of its actors, do not expect solutions to reach your home; On the contrary, if they do not act proactively and promptly, it is likely that the next time they knock on their door, they are criminals with very bad intentions.
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