ISJ Exclusive: Meeting new challenges in entrance control


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Chris McClelland, Mid-West Regional Sales Manager, Automatic Systems discusses the entrance control solutions that pivot to a post-pandemic world.

The return to onsite work post-pandemic has been somewhat slow and not altogether steady. Many employees who got their first taste of remote working have grown fond of the model and statistics are showing that the “not going back to the office” movement has taken on a lot of traction.

Online statistics reported in September show that 61% of workers prefer to work remotely indefinitely, even after the pandemic. Roughly six in ten employees are more likely to apply for a job with a remote work option and 61% of Americans would expect a pay raise if their employer no longer allowed them to work from home. As of 2022, 34% of US workers have returned to the office full-time and 40% of employees that still work remotely at least once a week claim they would change employers if a full office return was mandated.

Given these statistics, there’s been a significant increase in co-working buildings. Simply stated, coworking is a mutually beneficial arrangement wherein workers of different companies share office space. This trend is accommodating companies that no longer require the same amount of workspace that they did pre-pandemic. This approach provides cost saving and also allows multiple tenant companies to share equipment and services.

Co-working environments are providing solutions that allow companies to streamline their operations in response to the hybrid working model, which, as all indicators suggest, is here to stay. According to Future Forum research, 72% of employees say they never want to go back to the traditional way of working and expect a hybrid-remote office model going forward. While there are perks a plenty to reimagined workspaces, they also present new challenges in terms of access control.

Solutions to meet changing requirements

Multi-tenant buildings require multiple levels of access control. Solutions need to be implemented that facilitate safe and secure entry to authorised personnel, while preventing unauthorised access to spaces that are off-limits to others. Entrance control is the key.

Reducing entry points is a key step to having better control of who’s coming and going from a facility. Entry point security risks can be mitigated by securing them with turnstiles or speed gates as opposed to relying on standard swing doors. One reason for this is that most people will hold a typical swing door open for a person entering behind them, even if it is a card access door. Maybe they know the person, maybe they look familiar or like they should be there. Implementing a turnstile can help alleviate this obvious security threat by providing an additional deterrent and detection layer for unwanted visitors.

If there are already existing turnstiles installed in the building, accommodating new, multi-tenant spaces may require looking at relocation, retrofitting and exploring new technology to implement with the speed gates. If it’s a new installation, identifying the security needs of the site will often decide what technology is required and where the turnstiles should be deployed. The movement towards multiple tenant office space, including flex space, requires the ability to utilise different credential authentication systems and hardware to the affected area.

As part of our comprehensive services, Automatic Systems helps consult by reviewing the entry points and assisting in assessing where it is best to implement physical access control equipment. Common areas often dictate public availability as other areas, like high rise buildings, require an increased level of security.

Users have come to depend on us to provide the most secure entrance control options on the market. We have patented our detection technology and we offer customisable audio alarm messages to enhance the user experience. Our SlimLane speed gates come with locking brakes that engage and prevent forced entry without infringing upon egress requirements. Depending on the level of security a facility requires, Automatic Systems has a full portfolio of pedestrian and vehicle entrance control equipment including high security portals and security revolving doors.

Our SlimLane speedgate touts the ability to support full glass barrier obstacles at six different standard heights – from 35 7/16” up to 72” high from finished floor. The ability to install glass barriers at heights up to 72” is a significant deterrent and protection for unmanned entry points. Implementing these glass barriers eliminates the threat that an unwanted visitor attempts to scale the turnstiles.

In addition to providing access control security for various office staff and other building personnel, specific solutions that provide for convenient yet highly secure visitor management are also needed in multi-tenant buildings. Automatic Systems can, in a very aesthetic way, implement a QR/Barcode reader into our entrance control equipment. Namely, the SlimLane has the QR/Barcode reader integrated under the top rail allowing the user to easily scan their credentials.

There are many different QR/Barcode systems on the market. We utilise the IBC QScanT reader that can work with most systems. This gives the building owner and integrator flexibility in the systems to choose from and does not lock them into a particular brand. Our SlimLane glass optical barrier turnstile is a favourite among end users due to its ability to control large flows of people. It’s the ideal solution for entrances in professional buildings and has many different cabinet options to facilitate the integration of contactless biometric peripherals.

In the same way, we have developed an Elevator Destination Dispatch option for the SlimLane turnstiles. This allows property management to work with whichever elevator manufacturer they prefer. We provide the footprint for the elevator manufacturer to deploy their dispatch screen into the turnstile. The screen is typically displayed on the end of the lane so that as the user scans and walks through they can see the elevator information. There can be a significant amount of upfront planning and implementation work that goes into the elevator system destination dispatch, so we highly recommend that the building owner and integrator discuss this option well in advance. Keeping in mind that destination dispatch should not be used as the main source of security. Users can still follow others onto an elevator and reach an unintended floor.

Additional benefits

Entrance control solutions are also helping some companies reduce the costs of hiring multiple guards. Having an entry point designed to mitigate forced entry and tailgating provides peace of mind. The physical security equipment addresses labor shortages and provides a clear ROI in a short period of time.

Many have resorted to simply watching video cameras at a command centre, monitoring multiple entry points, which requires consistent network connection, absolute attention to a finite amount of screens and quick reaction. A turnstile or vehicle gate is not a complete replacement for those, but can help reduce the threats and eliminate the drain on guard services. With better allocation of resources and assets, guards can focus on higher level threats and achieve better responses.

Turnstiles and vehicle gates can and should be ‘agnostic’ when it comes to the technology they work with and are operated by. We often get the question, “does your equipment work with this access control system?” The simple answer is, yes, our equipment can work with any system that can provide a dry contact.

We have the ability with our SlimLanes to dive deeper into integration with certain access control systems, but the overwhelming majority of the sites do not need to employ an API to operate their equipment. This also applies to our ability to implement new technology into any of our solutions i.e. facial recognition, biometric or other new hardware/software solutions. We do this with a purpose so that when you see this incorporated into the design, it does not look like an afterthought.

Meeting the new access control challenges of re-designed, multi-tenant office buildings requires solid security technologies. Automatic Systems is pleased to help answer the call by delivering trusted, high level entrance control solutions that pivot to the particular needs of end users across all industry sectors.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 Influencers Edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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