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Efforts to prevent unauthorized access to classified information typically focus on securing documents and computers. However, steps also need to be taken to protect verbal communication.

Even if sensitive conversations occur in closed offices or meeting rooms, doors and walls typically aren’t enough to ensure speech privacy. Often, the budget isn't available to construct rooms with high sound attenuation. In any case, even minor gaps or penetrations in their structure can provide clear paths for conversations to travel into adjoining spaces, where they can be overheard.

And no matter what their Sound Transmission Class (STC), these traditional methods won’t protect against electronic speech surveillance.

Without the proper treatment, windows, doors, ducts, pipes, floors, ceilings and walls present various opportunities for eavesdropping. Speech causes vibrations on these structures, which can be picked up by probes or microphones and translated into intelligible speech. These types of listening devices are difficult to detect because they can be used at a considerable distance from the target facility.

These considerations are of particular concern in military facilities, where conversations occur that relate to national security.

Such a facility may also house office and administrative areas that require not only speech privacy, but noise control. Numerous studies show that noise not only lowers employee productivity and increases error rates, but also reduces overall workplace satisfaction. Personnel using libraries, health clinics and counselling offices will also benefit from improved acoustic control.