Sunday, July 15, 2018

Using Landscaping to Control Access

I want to tell you about two incidents that required a security solution and how the first attempt at providing an adequate solution failed miserably.

First case – illegal dumping

The issue was that people were driving up to the banks of a stream and dumping trash; i.e., tires, mattresses, rubbish, etc.  The first solution provided added a camera to the site so that “things” could be monitored.  The camera fed back to the superintendent’s desk.  Of course, when he wasn’t there (weekends, evening/late at night, attending meetings, lunch, naps) the dumping occurred and continued.  The superintendent was scratching his head on what to do.  After all, he just spent several thousands of dollars on the latest technologies and they didn’t seem to work.

Our solution was not electronic.  Instead, we suggested that they build a raised berm/curb using natural landscaping (trees/boulders/bushes, even park benches) so that the vehicle couldn’t drive up to the water’s edge in the first place.  We suggested landscaping due to the ability to prevent the vehicle from reaching the stream.  We imagined the culprits wouldn’t want to carry the heavy objects from the roadway, across a bicycle/walking path and then into the wood clearing to reach the stream.  Our second reason was to ensure the aesthetics of the area were kept intact.  Sure, we could have suggested a fence along the embankment to deny access and achieve the same effect, but who wants to walk along a fence with barbed wire when they’re taking the dog out or jogging or cycling.

Second case – unwanted access to school property

The issue in this case was that community members were cutting across school grounds in order to shorten the distance to retail shops located near the school campus.  The first security company suggested erecting a chain-link-fence with 3-strand barbed wire outrigger around the entire campus perimeter with a gate for buses and parents/administrators.  When not in use the gate would be kept locked.  The administrators weren’t buying it.  What if a student climbed the fence and was injured?  And where were they going to get the manpower to manage the gate? 

Our solution was to construct on three sides a wooden split-rail fence approximately 4 feet high (similar to those used in the Atlantic Piedmont region) and then to place flower beds in front of the fence and thorny shrubbery and trees behind it so that it would be difficult to cut through.  The front of the campus was left open.  We also suggested installing "speed cushions" to allow just buses to enter the "drive up/drop off" area.  And to have a separate loading/unloading zone for the parent's cars, that would be controlled by school staff.  These solutions provided the aesthetic qualities the administrators were looking for.  We also suggested changing procedures but I don't want to give too much away here.  Needless to say a comprehensive change was needed to address the concerns of the school.

These are just two examples of how not all security solutions need to be electronic.  Unfortunately, surveillance companies will tell you that CCTV is the solution to everything.  The reality is it isn’t.  In both cases we used “natural access control” (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design [CPTED]) as a fundamental principle in our approach to reducing crime.

Additional CPTED ideas and other principles on deterring crime and the effects of terrorist attack will be discuss during a 3-day workshop, Designing Secure Buildings: Integrating Security Technologies being held in New York City, 11-13 Sep 18.

Our ROI Toolkit is available.  The Toolkit will help you justify to your boss why you need to attend this training.

Contact us at or call +1 805 509-8655 to register.

Visit us at to find out about other classes we offer or to host a workshop. 

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