Why vehicle barriers are the essential for physical security

Barrier1 team - vehicle barriers

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Mark Borto, CEO of Barrier1 Systems, talks to SJA about the importance of vehicle barriers in preventing damage and injury within any market.

Can you tell me about your role at Barrier1 Systems?

I joined Barrier1 just over a year and a half ago with the mission of leveraging the company’s two decades of expertise and continued success to become the global leader in vehicle barrier systems.

My extensive security industry experience with Boon Edam and dormakaba Entrance Solutions, as well as the role that secured entry solutions play in providing physical protections against unauthorized access, dovetails perfectly with Barrier’s mission in that vehicle barrier solutions deliver brute force protection that electronic security systems can only detect and react to after the fact.

Barrier1 solutions literally stop the threat of vehicle penetrations dead in their tracks.

Given the global state of affairs and the security and safety challenges that exist today, Barrier1 solutions are the new imperative for perimeter protection across virtually every vertical market.

As CEO at Barrier1, I am laser-focused on expanding our product portfolio with solutions that will enable us to further improve and extend our value proposition across new and emerging markets.

Barrier1 has an extensive history of securing premier landmarks and institutions around the world, including the Empire State Building, Camp Fuji in Japan, San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center, the NYPD headquarters in downtown Manhattan and Marine Base Camp LaJeune in North Carolina.

This experience is a cornerstone for evolving into the new Barrier1, proving our capabilities and understanding of high value customer needs.

I am most fortunate to be working alongside a great team of vehicle barrier professionals who are willing to advance our mission and genuinely enthusiastic about helping our clients throughout the process from initial product selection to post-installation service.

In doing so, we continually benefit from fully understanding our customers’ needs, which in turn, allows us to continually improve our product portfolio and all processes that create the best customer experience possible.

What has your journey in the security industry been like? How have your tenures with Boon Edam and dormakaba complemented your mission at Barrier1?

As I previously touched upon, today’s security and safety professionals face new and evolving challenges – in every major metro market.

This is changing the nature of cyber-physical security solutions to include new layers of protection that combine new and advanced AI-driven technologies along with physical protections, such as vehicle barrier systems like those offered by Barrier1, and secured entry solutions from companies like Boon Edam and dormakaba, that were once largely perceived as specialty solutions for specific vertical applications. Not true today.

Whether you’re securing a nuclear facility, data center, public parade route, convenience store, military base, shopping mall or streetside dining area, you need to safeguard people, property and assets at the perimeter with solutions that prevent and/or control physical access.

Nothing stops accidental or intentional vehicle crashes into property better than crash-rated vehicle barrier solutions.  

What is the overall “new” vision for Barrier1?

We’re really repositioning Barrier1 as a mainstream provider of perimeter safety and security solutions for any organization or locale.

The need for new layers of protection beginning with brute force protection at the perimeter is a new imperative for private and public organizations and municipalities of all sizes.

This means educating the general market on the importance of vehicle barrier systems, their applications, risk mitigation value propositions, crash ratings and all the nuanced factors that contribute to an effective perimeter security strategy.

We plan on accomplishing this by committing to our core pillars of innovation, reliability and customer-centricity: continued product innovations that expand upon our 12 US patents for vehicle barrier solutions; proven reliability with ‘Made in the USA’ products that are continually validated with third-party crash testing to certify our barriers meet or exceed stringent American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards; and finally, intense focus on the customer experience from the best team of vehicle barrier experts in the world.

What are the main challenges when preventing vehicle ramming incidents? How can these be overcome?

Addressing the threat of a vehicle ramming incident can be challenging because it is truly an event that can occur anywhere at any time.

Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between implementing an effective solution and maintaining necessary accessibility for legitimate traffic and pedestrians.

We do this by offering a diverse portfolio of products that can be customized to meet each specific location’s needs.

This could be by providing a surface-set or shallow mount solution that avoids underground utilities, or a mobile solution that can be set up by a single technician in minutes and moved when need be.

The annual deployment of our portable arm barrier systems at New York City’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting is a perfect example.

This same thinking applies when selecting a vehicle barrier solution for a specific vertical.

You wouldn’t use a bollard to protect a critical infrastructure site just as it doesn’t make sense to install a retractable barrier in front of a retail store.

That is why it is our job to make recommendations based on each users’ specific venue and application.

This begins by analyzing the specific level of pedestrian versus vehicle access needed, taking into consideration the nature of the location itself, existing infrastructure and many other factors.

This ensures that the selected vehicle barrier solution we recommend and deliver aligns seamlessly with its intended purpose and environment.

How will the deployment of vehicle barriers outside of the historically common federal government or military environments change the physical security landscape?

First of all, you generally can’t miss them, so they provide a powerful deterrent to anyone with bad intent.

They are rarely – if ever – subject to downtime, providing protection 24/7 against random, accidental vehicle ramming incidents that occur literally every day across the country.

Barrier1 provides vehicle barrier solutions in a variety of form factors that are ideal for various applications.

For example, crash-rated bollards are best applied to storefronts where pedal errors and storefront crashes are common.

There are also numerous mobile and portable vehicle barrier solutions available, including wedge barriers, surface-set drop arm solutions and quick connect cable barriers, that are ideal for temporary events such as street festivals, holiday markets and outdoor concerts.

We are also pursuing new vehicle barrier designs that are better suited to the needs of specific markets.

Existing solutions will also continue to evolve to leverage new technologies such as AI and 3D LiDAR to detect and identify the rate of speed at which a vehicle is moving and initiate the instantaneous deployment of retractable vehicle barrier solutions to prevent an impending crash.

This is just one potential possibility that speaks to the range of capabilities on the horizon for layered and/or integrated vehicle barrier solutions.

How important are crash ratings when evaluating vehicle barrier solutions?

One of our most significant ongoing tasks is educating the market on the importance of crash-rated solutions, especially bollards.

This is because many business owners will install steel pipes filled with concrete and truly believe they will do the same work as crash-rated bollards. 

In reality, most of these concrete-filled pipes will snap like toothpicks in typical crash scenarios.

Not only is this a dangerous assumption, but it creates a false sense of security among customers and employees.

Barrier1’s strongest ASTM crash-rated solutions will stop a 15,000-pound vehicle moving at 50 miles per hour.

Why are vehicle barrier systems becoming a mainstream solution?

What makes a vehicle ramming incident so sobering is the realization that the most common means of transportation, that more than 90% of American households have access to, can cause widespread destruction, injury and even death.

Even more concerning is the thought that such destruction can be either intentional or accidental.

It could be a distracted driver veering into an outdoor dining patio, speeding and losing control of the vehicle, faulty brakes or the use of a vehicle to commit theft or even acts of terror.

Either way, the risks are still the same and no security solution on the market, other than a crash rated vehicle barrier, can defend against this kind of threat. 

Additionally, there is scarcely a business or entity in operation today that is not subject to the risks of a vehicle ramming incident.

Gas stations, restaurants, retail stores, critical infrastructure, transportation, data center, municipalities – the list could go on and on.

That’s why we do so much education surrounding the specific risks of vehicle crashes for various industries.

Once individuals are aware of the risks, they understand why vehicle barrier solutions are a real security imperative.

What additional benefits do barrier protection solutions provide to business owners?

It’s easy to imagine the immediate impact of a vehicle ramming incident. People are hurt, property is damaged, etc.

However, most people forget about the long-term effects and their associated costs.

In critical infrastructure situations, physical damage can disrupt operations that are critical for national or regional safety and economic security.

For retail shops, the downtime caused by a storefront crash can reduce sales and profits, even putting the business and employees’ livelihoods at risk.

What’s more, it can create an impression of an unsafe environment, potentially eroding public trust and damaging the business’s reputation overall.

Merely having a vehicle barrier system in place provides numerous unseen benefits.

This includes a perception of safety, reduced liability insurance premiums or even helping a business win important contracts with certain security-minded clients.

If there is one thing you’d like our readers to know, what would that be?

Barrier1 is not just a manufacturer, but also a true partner for security resellers and systems integrators who are looking to expand their business and revenue potential.

This also extends to contractors, property developers and management companies.

As the crash rated vehicle barrier market expands beyond the traditional federal and military applications, demand for safer and more secure commercial facility perimeters will grow.

Early adopters are already paving the way for this market expansion.

Barrier1 provides an opportunity for new partners to expand their offerings with our extensive portfolio of vehicle barrier products and the expert support they need.

In this way, we empower partners to enter previously untapped markets, driven by the new and emerging mainstream demand for superior quality, crash-rated vehicle barrier solutions.    

This article on executive protection was originally published in the January edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.          

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