Snapshot: New Best Practices Guide to Commercial Building Security Under SAFETY Act Now Available


Newswise — Applications for liability protections under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act have steadily increased since its introduction as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Over time, the Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has recognized ways to improve the process.

DHS S&T OSAI in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences (the Institute) developed a set of best practices and a new online tool, Best Practices for Anti-Terrorism Security (BPATS), outlining a resource for building owners to evaluate their operations end-to-end before applying for SAFETY Act protections. This set of best practices, which can be used with the assessment tool, delivers a clearly defined checklist for commercial facilities to improve the quality of their applications and reduce the number of building owners needing to re‑submit applications due to gaps found during evaluations.

“With BPATS, our goal was to develop a comprehensive tool that security professionals could use to assess the anti-terrorism security of commercial office buildings. The output from their BPATS assessment should enable building leadership to take steps to enhance their building’s security and provide the foundation for a well-structured follow-on SAFETY Act application,” said Bruce Davidson, Director of S&T OSAI.

Commercial property owners and security professionals may request access to the BPATS tool here.

Background

SAFETY Act emerged not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, due to liability concerns from the private sector and shrinking development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies. Today, the SAFETY Act supports over 1,000 technologies, encouraging innovation and investment to improve the nation’s security.

This past year, OSAI released BPATS with the hope of growing this number even further. Working with the Institute, they conducted several pilot tests to identify the best practices every building owner and security professional should address. The pilot tests were in six commercial buildings, located in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Denver. Through collaborative efforts, OSAI and the Institute found consistent best practices across these areas to refine BPATS.

BPATS and the assessment tool are now available to business owners looking to make more informed risk‑based decisions. Facility owners and security professionals have a free resource to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate those concerns before applying for SAFETY Act protections. Implementing security standards defined by OSAI in areas such as Access Control, Risk Awareness, Physical Security, IT Security and more can support an eventual application. The guide includes 411 best practices in 7 categories.

Reaching 1,000 approvals

Last year, the SAFETY Act reached a milestone, approving its 1,000th technology. Some approved technologies and programs that carried it beyond the milestone were the Bloomberg Corporate Headquarters Security Program, Willis Tower Security and Life Safety Services, and Brookfield Place Security and Emergency Program.

Several organizations and professional sports leagues have taken advantage of the SAFETY Act to date. OSAI began working with the NFL in 2008, reviewing league-wide security standards for stadium operators. Individual franchises can now prepare their own SAFETY Act applications based on the NFL Best Practices for Stadium Security.

“Since expanding into the stadium and arena mission space, we are a dedicated partner with the leagues and individual franchises offering incentives to continually invest in improving security for their facilities and their fans,” said Davidson.

The SAFETY Act program continues to incentivize security investment and innovation, supporting not only stadiums but also shopping malls and other large commercial facilities. Commercial facilities that meet the criteria for Designation or Certification as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT) can be awarded SAFETY Act protections to reduce the liability cap for third-party claims resulting from an Act of Terrorism. To be considered for QATT status, a technology or program is evaluated by these criteria (and using a flexible approach):

  • Prior U.S. government use or demonstrated substantial utility and effectiveness
  • Available for immediate deployment in public and private settings
  • Selling or providing the technology comes at extraordinarily large third-party liability risk
  • There is high likelihood the technology cannot be fully deployed without SAFETY Act protections
  • Risk exposure to the public if the technology is not deployed
  • Capabilities of the technology can be assessed through scientific study
  • The technology is effective in facilitating the defense against terrorism

OSAI engages with various public and private entities to ensure the SAFETY Act application process is consistent with their needs and promotes investment in technologies the nation needs. The SAFETY Act also supports initiatives with other DHS operational components such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, and Customs and Border Protection.

Want to apply or learn more? Visit the SAFETY Act website for more information.

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