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Civil Disturbance

Our protective design strategies create built environments that can deter and defend against the disruptive activities of hostile or unruly crowds.

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Sample CPTED strategies.
Sample CPTED strategies. Courtesy Ennead Architects
Elements of site perimeter protection.
Elements of site perimeter protection. Courtesy Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd. (MVLA)

The worldwide civil unrest of 2020 – and the January 6, 2021, violence at the U.S. Capitol – reignited concerns about the safety and security of our buildings and the cities around them. How can such incidents be prevented or mitigated, and what can be done to expedite recovery when one occurs?

With more than 70 years of experience in protective design and security, our engineers are well-equipped to design or upgrade your space to discourage civil disturbances, limit damage and injuries, and expedite emergency response and recovery. We have the expertise – and the tools – to devise strategies that balance openness and security, providing protection without transforming your space into a fortress or bunker.

Threat, vulnerability & risk assessment (TVRA). Our team of experts – in counterterrorism, countertheft, electronic security, cybersecurity, physical security and more – identifies and analyzes the threats, consequences, vulnerabilities and risks facing your organization. We use best practices established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ASIS International in our assessments, with staff who are Certified Protection Professionals (CPPs) or Physical Security Professional (PSP) certified.

The information we uncover sets the stage for potent protection plans for critical assets, infrastructure and personnel. We customize our process to provide clients with options that dovetail with the organization’s culture and meet budgetary requirements. The TVRA establishes the baseline threat profile and security posture for your building, venue or campus and can be used throughout the life of the asset.

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). Our team has been trained and certified by the National Institute of Crime Prevention in basic and advanced CPTED techniques. We use our expertise to provide site and building planning recommendations that discourage incursions and improve quality of life by enabling natural surveillance and access control, and strengthen site ownership through territorial reinforcement and proper maintenance.

We use a variety of methods – many of which are low- or no-cost – to deter unintended users from taking ownership of a space and committing crimes:

  • Tactical landscaping, including defensive vegetation, feature placement for natural access control and more
  • Walkways and signage that reinforce ownership and aid wayfinding
  • Security lighting
  • Window placement for natural surveillance
  • Fencing and barriers that define the site and control access without limiting surveillance
  • Social management programs that engage the community

These strategies can reduce crime and give users an increased feeling of safety. CPTED principles can be adapted for projects of every type, size and budget.

Perimeter protection and site security. We partner with project teams to develop layers of protection that integrate seamlessly with a facility’s site planning, layout, landscape and architecture. Hostile vehicle mitigation (anti-ram perimeter protection), an essential component of protective design, creates a guaranteed standoff distance to limit the blast pressures on a building and protect pedestrians and critical infrastructure from crash impacts. Our engineers can optimize and customize anti-ram solutions for any size or type of facility.

  • We use commercial and proprietary finite-element modeling applications to design anti-ram barrier systems for a wide range of subgrade and soil conditions.
  • We perform vehicle threat calculations to coordinate roadway layouts and approach paths, position vehicle barriers and determine maximum impact speeds.
  • We design anti-ram site architecture and deterrents, advising on site access, circulation and parking layouts to protect against hostile vehicles.
  • We’ve provided perimeter security and layout design and coordination involving fixed and operable barrier systems on more than 100 projects worldwide.
  • We’ve designed perimeter protection for many high-profile clients, including the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Army Corps of Engineers.

Counter-shooter risk assessment. Our team performs an on-site assessment to evaluate facilities from an active shooter’s perspective. We look for vulnerabilities and possible points of origin for shooting locations (internal and external), ingress and egress options, and overwatch access from key terrain surrounding the facility.

Our experts also identify the best locations for law-enforcement reaction forces and provide recommendations for effective emergency response. We leverage CPTED principles and employ cutting-edge software tools to supplement the on-site assessment and overall analysis, providing clients with detailed images, along with estimates of a facility’s risk exposure from each potential point of access.  

Our Team

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