NYPD releases protective design book

The New York City Police Department released a 100-page book, "Engineering Security: Protective Design for High Risk Buildings," to assist the New York City building community in preventing and mitigating the effects of a terrorist attack on a building. The study also creates a three-tier system designed to categorize buildings based on risk, according to a July 13 Protective Glazing Council release.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the purpose of the book is to help “those in the business of building make their mark on our City’s skyline in a way that is both creative and safe,” according to the release.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in the release, “To date, no report has been tailored to meet the specific needs presented by New York City’s unique risk environment. The NYPD authored Engineering Security to fill that void.”

Buildings in New York City require varying levels of security: the vast majority warrant no special precautions, while a mere handful necessitate heightened security. Engineering Security’s recommendations address the specific security challenges facing the highest risk buildings in New York. It also recommends that stairwells in new buildings be wider to accommodate evacuation and rescue.

"Engineering Security" presents an innovative risk-tiering system that categorizes buildings into three tiers--Low, Medium, and High--based on assessed threat, vulnerability and impact levels. The study includes a worksheet that allows developers to calculate the level of risk their buildings face. A risk calculator that performs the risk-tier calculations based on a few simple inputs, in addition to an online copy of the study.

“Recognizing that every building faces unique security concerns, 'Engineering Security' presents not a one-size-fits-all prescriptive approach, but a method for tailoring protective security measures to meet particular needs. Its recommendations are intended as best practices for the building community, not legal requirements,” said Kelly in the release.

The study’s recommendations are organized thematically. They cover perimeter security; building design; access control, screening, and monitoring; emergency preparedness; and air handling and air monitoring systems.

Key recommendations for owners of High Tier buildings include: conduct vehicle threat vector analyses to determine vulnerabilities and develop solutions to mitigate associated threats; orient glass facades away from nearby High Tier buildings; set screening thresholds at levels no higher than the design basis threat level for threats from a contact charge on a structural column; establish control mechanisms to ensure that terrorists do not gain access to documents, such as floor plans and blueprints, containing sensitive security information; ensure that secondary structural elements with direct connection to primary structural elements achieve the traditionally higher fire-resistance ratings set for primary structural elements; and prepare protocols to manage chemical-, biological-, and radiological-release events, according to the release.

Engineering Security draws from the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau’s experience conducting security reviews of high-profile buildings in and around New York City. It is the result of a collaborative effort, led by the NYPD, and informed by the suggestions of the New York City Fire Department, the Department of Buildings, and the Department of City Planning, and by the industry insight of professional associations representing New York City’s engineers, architects, and developers.