• United States



by CSO Staff


Jul 21, 20082 mins
Physical Security

Bollards are another line of defense, protecting Joe's Office from accidental or intentional structural damage.

Having passed the gatehouse, Joe comes to a fork in the road and goes left to end his commute in the parking lot, passing over a second retractable GRAB-sp system. Delivery trucks take the right fork; any truck that takes the left fork despite clear instructions at the gatehouse runs the risk of being grabbed.

(An aside: This approach is what James M. Atkinson, president and senior engineer at Granite Island Group, a security consultancy in Gloucester, Mass., calls “avocado” security. In his world, there’s onion security, layers of defenses that are independent of each other, and avocado security, which has closely intertwined levels. Avocado is better, though not foolproof, says Atkinson. His mantra: If one man can build it, one man can break it, and he says that holds true for every aspect of security. “A clever new toy doesn’t make you more secure,” he says. “A high-security lock may mean it takes 15 minutes to pick a lock instead of 15 seconds, so you have to exploit the 15 minutes to do something to get in their way.”)

Here, if his mind isn’t already too engaged in the day’s research, Joe might recall the dispute he had with his CSO during the headquarters planning and selection phase. The CSO had lobbied hard for an underground employee parking lot with its own access control system, surveillance, attendants and so forth. For cost reasons, Joe settled for a more conventional office parking arrangement, with a well-lit lot separated from the building by a row of bollards.

Bollards are a fine technology, and time-tested, too. Pop-up bollards have been around since the 1100s, says Atkinson. “There is really nothing new in security under the sun. Everything is just clever new packaging,” he says. Atkinson notes that bollards have weak points—he has tied bomb-tipped broomsticks to a pickup truck, blown up a bollard and then driven his truck to the target area.

Another issue they could have is that even if someone hits the bollard, the force of the explosion will carry past the bollard, potentially causing serious damage if the bollards are set too close to the building.

Nevertheless, they provide an additional buffer against intentional or accidental damage to the building. -Michael Fitzgerald