Q: David, what can those coming to the Lab’s hill site expect in terms of site security and access in 2023?

A: There won’t be a lot of visible changes right away. You’re going to see the same great group of officers greeting you in the morning. 

But as the year progresses we anticipate there will be more people coming on site, both employees and an increase in construction workers as the Building 54 project gets underway. 

Because of the geography of the hill [site] and our gate design, traffic may slow down and you may not get through the employee lane as fast as you would like. Things that can help? Please have your badge ready, whether you’re in your car, on a bicycle or motorcycle, or on foot, in order to decrease the delay to yourself and others. Also, consider coming on site outside of peak commute hours. By working together as a team we can make it as smooth a process as possible.

I also want to highlight our brand new access management system that you can find on the A to Z website. It’s for visitor access, for example, if you have somebody coming onsite for a research collaboration, or a family member is coming to pick you up or drop you off, or you have a food delivery or rideshare coming onsite. The online system handles all those scenarios and it’s pretty intuitive. Try it out and let us know – we always welcome feedback and if you get stuck, just call the SOC at extension 6999.

Q: Folks are sometimes accustomed to accessing the Lab a certain way but should we be considering alternative access points to enter the Lab?

A: As most people know, we have three vehicle access gates. It’s a good idea to be familiar with them all as we periodically have changes that may impact the gate you are used to coming through. Our SES website and status@lbl.gov are good resources to get the status of the Lab’s gates. Blackberry Gate is accessible 24/7, while Strawberry Gate is accessible Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m, and Grizzly Gate is open in the morning hours for vehicle entry and is exit-only 24/7. Those are the gates that are fully available to everybody who’s an employee or an affiliate. We direct most other traffic to our main gate.

I do want to remind people that UC Berkeley’s Centennial Bridge Improvement Project has started and the construction of the new bridge and demolition of the old bridge will create frequent traffic delays along Lawrence Road. We expect intermittent delays at Strawberry Gate until the Summer 2024. The Lab will send out plenty of communications in advance of the road closures but it’s something we should have on our radar. 

My last thought on gate access is that some of our gates have very sharp turns and narrow roads. So, for your safety and the safety of others, please be mindful of your speed and drive safely when approaching or leaving a gate.

Q: On the topic of badging and building access, what should we expect for 2023?

A: During the beginning stages of the pandemic we introduced badge access across all Lab facilities and the hill site. We’ve seen definite increase in Lab security and safety by having a greater awareness of who’s onsite and when. I think we’re succeeding in making badges be part of the daily work environment in a way that doesn’t disrupt or encumber the mission of the Lab.

Conference management is one example. We hired an additional security manager whose job is to manage large events, both from a site access and a vetting perspective, to make sure that folks coming onsite for a conference not only meet the Lab’s requirements, but experience a smooth and positive process. For larger events, we’ve actually sent security personnel to the hotel to check people into the event and give them a badge so they don’t have to stop at the gate. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from having this dedicated person.

Q: How is the Lab addressing the challenges of emergency management in 2023?

A: Well, we have our annual full-scale emergency exercise that we do every year, that is a DOE requirement, and takes about six months to plan. Our full-scale exercises involve first responders from the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, as well as Alameda County and UC Berkeley.

For these events we try to create real-world scenarios that we might see at the Lab. This year’s exercise will involve an earthquake that will trigger some additional challenges that we’re going to need to come together to face as a Lab. We’re targeting June for that full-scale exercise.

As part of the day-to-day, we’re looking at ways to change how people react to drills and real emergency situations. I think the hybrid work environment, where sometimes we’re in the office and sometimes we’re working from home, may have desensitized us a bit to our individual responsibilities for emergency management, such as reacting to building alarms or knowing where our emergency assembly areas are. 

In response, the Emergency Management team is rolling out, over the next two years, revamped training to help people be ready for emergencies from both a personal and community standpoint.

I consider everybody at the Lab to be part of the emergency management team because when a building needs to be evacuated we need everybody to know where the emergency exits are, where the assembly area is located, how to check in on your phone for accountability, and how to receive emergency communication. 

On the subject of emergency communication, we have the LabAlert system. We know those alerts can be disruptive at times, but we ask that people be sympathetic and understand that the alerts are for the greater good. We would rather have too much communication than not enough and then face a serious safety issue.

Q: How is business continuity factoring into SES’s planning in 2023?

A: There has been an increased requirement from the Department of Energy for the Lab to have more formalized continuity planning. Fortunately we began this effort because of the PSPS [public safety power shutoff] that occurred in 2019 and the supply chain vulnerabilities we witnessed during the liquid nitrogen shortage last year. 

We’ve formed the Readiness & Resiliency Working Group (RRWG), that’s led by our Business Continuity Coordinator, and that takes a Lab-wide approach to identify mission-essential business functions and systems as well as our backups. We want to have every Lab research area and division represented in the RRWG, and if you’re not currently a part of the group we encourage you to reach out to Emergency Management and get involved.