Geoff Firth, Specification Manager at Boon Edam Ltd, a global market leader in entry solutions, discusses how increased security requirements for commercial buildings has impacted the development of access control systems over the past decade; leading to the emerging trend of integrated, intelligent buildings.
Historically, access control security systems would predominantly be found in banks or government buildings, however over the last decade this has changed dramatically. It’s very rare to now walk into a building that does not have any form of security system installed. There are different drivers for this change, such as the ability to control and monitor personnel entering and exiting the building for fire regulations, to protect valuable equipment or data held inside; along with the increasing demand to protect a building against potential terrorist threats.
I’ve found that a developing trend for pedestrian access control systems, is the evolution of the ‘intelligent building solution’. This has stemmed from the ability to integrate the physical barrier with many other systems, such as card readers, lift call and CCTV systems. By integrating these components, we can provide or receive more information than ever before. Dependent upon what the key reason for the system is, either a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ security access control system is selected.
For many headquarters, gone are the days of physically signing a visitor book upon entering and leaving the premises. Most corporate buildings now have at a minimum, soft security measures in place. An individual’s access activity can be constantly monitored and recorded, with systems able to block unauthorised access attempts. This enables an audit of personnel within the building to be conducted, safeguarding against security and fire threats.
Access control systems are not solely used for security purposes. The information they provide can help a company to establish its own access trends, such as peak times and they can also track employees’ time spent within the building, and specific areas of the building for attendance purposes.
For many corporations, it is crucial that employees or visitors only have access to certain departments within the building; for example, a visitor who has a meeting with a member of the finance team may not be authorised to enter a design department due to strict regulations surrounding patents and copyrights. Soft security measures can provide the company with assurance that unauthorised access will be denied, and access granted solely to approved individual’s identity devices.
Proximity cards are making access and security more seamless than ever, providing the solution to the heightened demand for personnel access control in corporate buildings. Card systems that integrate security, privacy and convenience allow the organisation to achieve a new level of security assurance.”
There has been a growing trend in the demand of high security access control systems within the last decade. Previously, it was not uncommon for people to be able to freely walk into buildings and gain instant access to the reception or lift lobby area, often with no restrictions placed on the floors that visitors could access.
More and more clients are seeing the value in installing hard security access systems to protect employees and visitors against potential threats. The introduction of imposing physical barriers, containing bulletproof glass is rare but not unheard of.
One of the main reasons behind the development of access control systems in commercial buildings, has been the gradual move away from the typical 9-5 working hour day. The ability to work anytime, anywhere, has led to a move from manned entrances, to fully automated, secure entry systems to allow freedom to work unrestricted hours.
Throughout the past eight years, the development of biometric security has been significant. When we talk about biometric security, we are no longer just referring to a standard thumbprint reader, this has now evolved to incorporating retinal scans and facial recognition within access systems. This additional layer of security is becoming a popular trend for businesses such as data centres, where the risk of a lost or stolen card presents a threat for unauthorised access into areas such as server rooms.
High security revolving doors can benefit from added security features, such as ceiling sensors to prevent tailgating, contact mats to detect the presence of a user or a weight system to assess the load imposed by the user. The revolving door can also be secured, so that rotation only begins following a signal from an integrated access control system.
A relatively recent trend we are seeing supports this move towards an automated intelligent building. The integration of the access control system with other systems, such as Lift Display Units (LDUs), allows for a smooth throughput transition. LDUs assist in buildings where user access is controlled and monitored; a lift display is incorporated into the top of a security lane to direct the user to the appropriate lift for their required floor. Both systems work in harmony to provide two main benefits; firstly, there is less reception area traffic, and secondly it presents an enhanced security advantage, as the lift will only take the visitor to the designated floor that they have been granted access to. This level of integration can also apply to other systems such as CCTV. For example, if there was a security violation such as an attempt to gain unauthorised access to a floor, the surrounding CCTV cameras would instantly switch on in that area and record all subsequent movements.
Access and security control systems are becoming increasingly intelligent and integrated; as standards change and technology develops, future trends will continue to emerge. Reflecting on the changes within the last decade, it is exciting to think where we could be in another 10 years’ time. A likely development is the integration of person counter systems with utility controls, to establish a fully automated, smart building. For example, an office building would benefit from an entrance transmitting data to the lighting and air conditioning system, to signal when to turn off the systems after the final person has exited the premises. This would not only save energy, but also save on costs associated with running the building.”
It is a really exciting time for the industry, as technology incessantly develops. Boon Edam is at the forefront of entrance technology, and I think that as we continue to collaborate with our clients and technology partners on innovative solutions, even more capabilities become possible.
Besides offering a number of security and access features, revolving doors provide the advantage of reducing the entrance of draughts to the building, therefore reducing the heating energy demand and the building’s CO2 emissions. Future proof entry solutions remain front of mind for us at all times, and I am looking forward to seeing how soft and hard security technology develops in years to come.