THE MAGAZINE

Physical Security Systems Handbook: The Design and Implementation of Electronic Security Systems

By James R. Black, CPP, PSP, CSC

***** Physical Security Systems Handbook: The Design and Implementation of Electronic Security Systems. By Michael Khairallah, PSP; published by Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann; available from ASIS, Item #1675, 703/519-6200 (phone), www.asisonline.org (Web); 312 pages; $50 (ASIS members), $55 (nonmembers).

Michael Khairallah’s ambitious first book is aimed at creating a much-needed practical and comprehensive reference for the design and implementation of electronic security systems. The book is intended to serve as a guide to help security professionals develop a security audit plan, perform the audit, and implement the resulting recommendations. Doing all this in a coherent and understandable way is no easy task, but on the whole Khairallah has accomplished it admirably.

With an extensive background in security system design and implementation, the author has the proper credentials for writing this work. Giving the work even more authority is that he called on an esteemed panel of experts to peer-review the material. There is a lot to commend this book. Chapters are well laid out and easy to follow. Helpful advice explains when security consultants are needed. Explanations of security auditing principles and threat assessment set the stage for the description of system design. Discussions of system acquisitions are thorough and provide some of the most useful information in the book. Also likely to be immediately helpful are sections about qualifying vendors and evaluating bids. An appendix of basic door-detail drawings, plus tables, sample schedules, and other diagrams in the main text, fleshes out the general points.

Yet the book is not completely satisfying. For one, thing, periodic editorial and grammatical errors are distracting. More substantively, the author’s broad approach to design and implementation processes crowds out important details. Readers seeking guidance on topics such as the pitfalls of using a corporate network for IP-based video transmission or how to properly integrate security systems to extend the capability of the security force are left bereft, at least until a second edition comes out. These aren’t obscure or subtle details, but rather mainstream considerations for many a corporate security system. On the positive side, Khairallah excludes tangential material that a less disciplined author might have included, such as regulatory compliance, threat assessment methodologies for different industries, and subjective “due care” standards.

Security generalists will benefit the most from this book, as will security directors and project managers who are faced with their first major security system project. Even experienced security professionals will pick up nuggets of good information throughout. And other stakeholders in security—architects, engineers, and end users—will find the book informative and interesting.


Reviewer: James R. Black, CPP, PSP, CSC (Certified Security Consultant), is a senior security consultant based in the Irvine, California, office of TRC Security, a security consulting and engineering firm. In addition to designing security solutions for national critical infrastructures, TRC Security is the primary security consultant for the City of Los Angeles. Black is a member of ASIS International.

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