What are Physical Protection Systems?

Physical Protection Systems
 Physical Protection System (PPS) should meet three basic elements (detection, delay, and response).

Before we get into physical protection systems, it is important to note that in order to protect your company and its assets, the very first step is to perform a threat and vulnerability analysis. Based on that analysis, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) or property manager, etc., can then coordinate with security integrators and implement physical protection systems (PPSs) to provide safeguards that mitigate the threats.

A physical protection system (PPS) integrates people, procedures, and equipment for the protection of assets or facilities against theft, sabotage, or other malevolent human attacks.

Physical Protection Security Measures

Facility with physical security.
Perimeter of a well designed high security building.

Physical security involves the use of multiple layers of interdependent systems that can include CCTV surveillance, security guards, protective barriers, locks, access control, perimeter intrusion detection, deterrent systems, fire protection, and other systems designed to protect persons and property. For the purposes of simplicity we can divide security measures into three types:

  • Preventive measures: These are arrangements that reduce the likelihood of a deliberate attack, introduce delays, reduce vulnerabilities, or otherwise cause an attack to be unsuccessful.
  • Corrective measures: These are efforts meant to reduce the effects of an attack and restore the facility to normal operation.
  • Detective measures: These steps and plans meant to help discover attacks and activate appropriate preventive or corrective measures.

Physical protection systems consist of a proper mixture of architectural, operational and security systems elements.

PPS Architectural Elements

Security bollards located at street entrance.
Bollards are an example of strong PPS Architectural elements.

Architectural elements include barriers and locks, exterior and interior lighting, critical building services, space layout, parking, and dock facilities just to name a few. For example retraceable bollards serve as an effective solution to address the challenge of securing access points that are shared by both vehicles and pedestrians.

PPS Operational Elements

Campus security control room.
Most University Campuses focus on strong operational elements.

Operational elements refer to organization and staffing, policies and procedures, training, visitor control, security guard staffing, incident responses, and the administration of security systems among other factors. In the picture above, we can see a campus security guard on duty at their operational center. Campus security guards respond by observing and reporting violations related to their policies and regulations.

PPS Security Systems

Security systems include automated access control systems, intrusion detection and alarm systems, closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, communication systems, and security control center equipment. Additionally, touchless technologies and cloud-based security solutions are increasingly becoming essential components of an organization’s security toolbox.

Emerging Touchless Access Control Technologies include:

  • Wave-to-Open Door Sensors
  • Mobile Credentials
  • Contactless Fingerprint Sensors
  • Iris Scanners
  • Facial Recognition
  • Wearables
  • Touchless Turnstiles

Future of Physical Protection Systems

In today’s highly technological and health conscious world, Physical Protection Systems (PPS) will have to address both new as well as traditional risk factors. This will give rise to more touchless cloud-based security solutions that enable organizations to enforce safety guidelines while maintaining a strong security posture.

The stakes are high and the importance of balancing technology and human factors are more important than ever. The physical security field is currently going through a massive shift away from traditional physical security systems to technological solutions. While there is a lot of excitement and optimism, with great change comes even greater challenges.

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