Federal Level Protection
Government facilities are required to apply the following principles when using sound masking:
- A system composed of generators, amplifiers, and speakers to distribute noise and vibrations facing away from the conversation taking place inside the protected space should be placed and optimized for the best acoustical protection.
- Speakers must be placed close to all areas along the perimeter or any points of vulnerability where audio may leave the facility. This includes doors, windows, perimeter walls, vents and ducts, and any other locations where voice may leave the room. This can also include areas around pipes, spaces above the drop ceiling, and spaces below raised flooring.
- The masking system must be adjusted to a level higher than that of the talkers inside the room; once adjusted, the volume level must be fixed. The volume level for each speaker shall be determined by listening to conversations outside the SCIF or area to be protected, and the speaker volume will be adjusted until conversations are unintelligible from outside the SCIF.
- The speaker, wires, generators, and any head-end equipment must be located inside the secure room to prevent tampering.
The key element for the protection of government facilities is that the masking energy is designed and deployed in such a manner as to prevent someone outside the room from listening to someone having a conversation inside the room, whether it is a normal conversation generated by the human voice, by the speech that has been amplified by the electronics inside a lectern, wall- or ceiling-mounted speakers, or by a video teleconferencing (VTC) system. It does not matter whether the person is a casual passerby or someone who stops near the door to deliberately listen, or even if someone hides in a nearby closet and places a contact mic up against the wall. Eavesdropping from the external perimeter of a room is a real threat — but these threats can be successfully mitigated.
Nowhere in government regulations does it require direct field speakers to be hung directly over the heads of occupants inside the SCIF. Direct field speakers are commonly found in call centers and other open spaces where the privacy of “employee-to-client” or “employee-to-employee” conversations are a concern. There are over a dozen companies in the U.S. alone that provide soundmasking services for call centers, businesses, and other open spaces. Our focus, however, is solely on creating secure voice spaces, primarily from a three-dimensional perspective along the entire floor-to-ceiling perimeter of a given office or facility. Of course, any opening must be addressed wherever pipes, ducts, wiring, or structures enter or egress the room or facility on all six sides, but we have optimized our technology to accomplish just that: creating a true security envelope — the highest privacy index possible — to ensure words or conversations spoken inside an office are not understood or intelligible outside of that office.