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  • Posted By Scott
  • |
  • Oct 10, 2017

Condominium Security – 4 Stages of Security Awareness

In psychology, there is a learning model called the “Four Stages of Competence” or the “Conscious Competence Ladder”. Basically, there are four steps to this ladder, and it is interesting how they relate to Condominium Security, especially the first two. The four steps are:

1. Unconscious Incompetence
2. Conscious Incompetence
3. Conscious Competence
4. Unconscious Competence

Before proceeding, it must be stated that the term “Incompetence”, is not meant (especially in this article) to provoke an emotional response. It is not meant to be used as a general term to say that an individual is an incompetent person. It is meant to reflect that the person is not competent in the one subject that is being discussed.

In the first phase (Unconscious Incompetence), a person does not know something and they are also unaware of the fact that they do not know it. It is being stuck at this level that prevents condominium corporations from adopting a proactive approach to condominium security. For all practical purposes, security is never discussed and is not planned for when it comes to budgeting or updating Reserve Fund Studies/Capital Plans. Usually, it takes some sort of security event or incident to highlight the lack of knowledge in the realm of physical/facility security. When this happens, the condominium corporation realizes that there is a vacuum of knowledge and undertakes (usually) one of three methods of addressing this void. The three actions resemble those of risk management:

1. Do Nothing (accept the risk)
2. Mitigate the Risk (take action)
3. Off Load the Risk (increase insurance or other 3rd party liability)

At this point, we have moved into the second phase - Conscious Incompetence. We are aware of the issue and we should now know that we need some outside guidance in order to fix the problem. This can be a dangerous point if we do not realize that we need to go outside our skill set in order to obtain the expertise to rectify the matter/issue at hand. We have stated many times that Condominium Managers and Board Members have large shoes to fill. They are expected to be experts in real estate, building operations like HVAC, condominium law, accounting, and many other topics - including security. It is sometimes tough to admit that assistance is needed and we have seen this result in properties looking for cheap, easy solutions, or perhaps ignoring the issue altogether. Happily, with the new licensing requirements - which is stressing education - that is taking place in the condominium industry in Ontario, we are slowly seeing the condominiums accept the value in investing in expert guidance in different fields - like security.

If we use the above as an example, a condominium realizes that this is a security issue, which moves them from Phase 1 to Phase 2. As a result of that movement, they commission a security assessment, TRA or some other evaluation of their current physical protection system. With the reading of the report, they have now moved into phase 3 or Conscious Competence. They now understand that there is an issue and how to fix it.

With the security report in hand, and having fully absorbed the information in the report, the facility can start implementing the security solutions that were provided in the recommendations. This still requires conscious thought as the condominium begins to explore options with guard services, technology, procedures, etc., to better protect their property and the residents that live within. At this point, the condominium (in our research and opinion) is in the top 10% of condominiums when it comes to security.

So when does a condominium move to phase 4?

This is when the security recommendations are evaluated and the ones that are approved are incorporated into the Reserve Fund Study or Operating budget. A proper security audit should provide a 5-year security plan that the condominium can implement on an annual basis. At this point, no more consideration, debate or review is necessary – the condominium systematically improves the security of the building as the recommendations get brought to physical fruition.

It is always interesting to discuss with a condominium which rung they are on when it comes to the Ladder of Security Competence.