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Why You Need a Threat Assessment: A Physical Security Assessment for Buildings

Written By: Brad CampbellFebruary 4, 2022

When you’re looking to increase the physical security of any type of commercial facility or building, the best way to start is by conducting a professional threat assessment. Keep reading to find out why.

What Is a Physical Security Assessment for Buildings?

Physical security, or physical risk, assessment, formally known as a threat assessment, is an evaluation carried out by a security expert.

In this type of evaluation, the security expert conducts a full inspection of your property to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in its physical security.

two business man talking looking at ipad in front of windows

This includes looking at all existing security measures as well as all other physical aspects of the building’s security.

Threat assessments also involve discussing perceived/actual threats to you and your property to determine what you need to protect against.

Examples of physical threats to buildings:

  • Forced entry
  • Burglary
  • Smash-and-grab theft
  • Vandalism
  • Rioting and looting
  • Active shooters
  • Storm damage

In addition to determining what physical security risks your property faces, a threat assessment also takes inventory of what needs to be protected from these specific threats. 

This may include people, merchandise, equipment, documents and anything else inside your building that could be put at risk by security threats. 

In other words, anything or anyone that could be damaged, stolen, or physically harmed needs to be protected when inside your facility.

three different looking skyscrapers

Results of a physical security assessment

After a security expert has thoroughly evaluated your building’s current security levels and potential threats, they will provide a comprehensive list of physical security improvements to make.

These can include everything from changing door locks and installing access control systems to retrofitting glass doors and windows with forced entry-resistant or bullet-resistant security glazing.

Possible physical security improvement examples:

  • Upgrading/adding door locks
  • Adding access control systems
  • Installing surveillance cameras
  • Installing monitored alarm systems
  • Reinforcing glazing with forced entry or ballistic glass or polycarbonate

Why You Should Get a Threat Assessment for Your Property

Any building, no matter how big or small or what its principal purpose is, faces physical security threats.

As a building owner or administrator, you’re largely responsible for the safety of people and property inside the building.

If you’re a business owner, you’re also the person who suffers financial losses if merchandise is stolen or if your property is damaged.

In order to mitigate the physical risks faced by any type of commercial building, it’s important to foresee the possible security scenarios that could unfold and put the appropriate preventative security measures in place. This is exactly what threat assessments help you do.

hand holding mini skyscraper models

Examples of types of buildings that should get physical security assessments:

  • Schools and other educational facilities
  • Government buildings
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Office buildings and campuses
  • Religious centers (churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship)
  • Luxury and specialty retail stores
  • Hospitals
  • Detention centers
  • Hotels, resorts, and other hospitality businesses

You may think you have a comprehensive security system in place that includes access control, video surveillance, and alarm systems, but a security professional will point out all sorts of vulnerabilities you may not have even thought of.

For instance, an access-controlled entryway does nothing to keep out would-be intruders if there are unsecured ground floor windows nearby that they can simply smash and climb in through.

Thief with flashlight trying to break glass door with crowbar
Thief with flashlight trying to break glass door with crowbar

That’s why we use threat assessments in the fenestration security industry so much — they help us identify vulnerable potential entry points where burglars or active threats can bypass existing security measures to gain entry to your facility.

Below, we’ll go into some specific examples of how physical threat assessments can help mitigate real-world risks.

Use Case Examples for Physical Risk Assessments

  1. Schools
  2. High-end retailers

How threat assessments can improve school security

Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats schools face in modern-day America is school shootings.

Cameras, alarms, and access-controlled entrances are all great deterrents, but there’s one thing they don’t do: physically prevent an active threat from gaining entry via a glass door or window.

In order to reduce the risk of harm or death to staff and students inside a school, it’s of the utmost importance to have the right physical barriers to forced entry in place (in the right places).

A threat assessment helps school administrators identify areas where physical security can be improved, specifically to minimize the impacts of an active threat scenario.

Many modern classrooms are full of large glass windows, which serve important purposes but do nothing to protect people inside or prevent forced entry during an active shooting incident.

A security expert who conducts a physical risk evaluation will be able to provide recommendations on how to reinforce these vulnerable glass surfaces with containment-grade (non-ballistic) or ballistic-grade (bullet-resistant) glazing to keep bad guys out and save lives.

How physical security assessments can improve luxury retail store security

The biggest risks that high-end retailers face tend to be different forms of theft, including burglary, smash-and-grab theft, and riot-induced looting.

Non-luxury retailers may be able to get away with installing bars and grates to provide additional security against such threats, but these unsightly solutions aren’t an option for luxury retailers.

glass store front

So, what are your options when you want to be able to maintain visibility, allow window shopping, and let natural light in, but protect merchandise from theft? 

A physical threat assessment will take inventory of all your most vulnerable merchandise on display and provide you with recommendations for how to protect things like storefront windows and display cases against forced entry, smash-and-grab theft, and rioting and looting.


Physical security assessments help you identify the biggest threats to your people and property and spot gaps in your security that need to be filled immediately.

They also help you prioritize physical security upgrades, so you can implement the most cost-effective security upgrades right away and stay within your budget.

man and woman walking through office building

When you follow the recommendations of a security expert to solidify your building’s physical security, you can rest easy at night knowing that your employees, students, and property are protected 24/7 from potential threats.

Contact us today to discuss your security concerns and goals and to schedule a professional threat assessment.

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Looking for residential protection? At Riot Glass, we specialize in protecting your property with our patented bullet-resistant system, designed specifically for aluminium framed windows. Not sure if Riot Glass is right for your home? Explore our FAQs.
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