The Role of Security

The Role of Security

Adjusting to the new normal in the workplace

As people around the world adjust to a new normal, the health of buildings – and how they influence the health of their occupants – has become critically important. As businesses, schools and other organizations prepare to re-open, they need to be confident in their ability to do so safely and building occupants need to trust that they will be protected.

A key component of the healthy building ecosystem is security and access solutions. Security management systems offer solutions that organizations can deploy to increase building health. The good news is many facilities already have these controls in place and are well positioned to adapt the technology to meet current health and safety needs.

DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS

Creating a safer workspace requires a variety of different solutions that range from the well-known rules around social distancing and mask wearing, to use of existing or new access control products, features or integrations. From a technology standpoint, an organization that can leverage and manage a variety of systems such as HVAC, fire and alarm systems, and security will be able to best optimize building health and efficiency. The system with a very immediate impact is the security management system, the heart of the building.

Much has been said about the integral role that security systems play in an intelligent or smart building, which has much in common with a healthy building. That’s because a security system can easily serve as the operational core of an intelligent building. The readers, cameras with analytics and sensors already positioned throughout the building provide security teams with the tools and data they need to help keep a building safe, and with minor adjustments, healthy. Security software can be directly integrated with other non-security systems as well, enabling a flow of additional realtime data and alerts. If the security system can be the operational core of an intelligent building, it stands to reason that it can also be the operational core of a healthy building.

Security systems can provide proactive and reactive measures for building owners and operators to help ensure the health and safety of building occupants. Before an employee or visitor even leaves their home, proactive screening solutions can prompt self-assessments. Web- and email-based tools can be integrated with access control systems to ensure all employees and visitors respond to the organization’s health screening questions, and access can be granted or denied based on those responses, all before someone leaves their house in the morning.

A LINE OF DEFENSE

That next line of defense is the access control system funneling all employees through a single, controlled entrance. Readers can be deactivated until a person with a special credential accesses the building, activating a controlled entry protocol. Thermal cameras can be integrated with facial recognition technology to automate the temperature screening process, another line of defense in preventing people with elevated temperatures to enter a building. The facial recognition technology can even be customized to look for things like masks before granting access.

To further mitigate risk of transmission of germs, touchless access solutions, like mobile credential-based access control combined with mechanized door openings, can significantly reduce the number of surface touchpoints. In settings where door readers require two-factor authentication (like via keypad), it may even be possible to use the mobile device as the second factor. Features such as facial recognition or a phone passcode can be used in place of the physical keypad. Beyond those scenarios, mobile access solutions streamline the access experience, which keeps traffic in a building flowing. This results in fewer people congregating in frequently accessed areas.

OCCUPANCY MANAGEMENT SECURITY

Enhancing building health doesn’t end once people make it through the front door, though. The next line of defense comes with occupancy management tools, alerts and reports. The access control system can be used to set limits on occupancy in certain parts of a building, ensuring people aren’t congregating in one place – assisting with necessary social distancing.

A security manager could even create a dashboard displaying the current occupancy count for all locations in the building with visual alerts when any limits are met or exceeded. Reports on where people are congregating can help building managers figure out problem areas and determine ways to minimize repeat problems.

Implementing some or all of these solutions provides a building and its occupants with a good chance to remain healthy, while still going into buildings. The good news is many of these concepts or features do not require an overhaul of new technology or time-consuming upgrades. Most buildings already have some form of security in place, and those systems can be adapted to enable some of the aforementioned concepts.

The potential for security systems to make a positive difference in combatting this pandemic is substantial. The same systems that have kept people safe from physical intruders, need little adapting to become a defensive barrier against disease. Whether it’s pre-assessment tools, physical constraints on entry via access control or a constant feed of actionable data about the status and whereabouts of people within a building, security systems provide an ideal platform to act as the heart of a healthy building.

The world’s eyes have been opened to just how devastating a pandemic can be to people’s health and well-being, and day-to-day life. As we look to adjust to our new normal and return to offices, schools and other buildings, security solutions can play a critical role in creating healthier environments by leveraging new services, technologies and tools that improve building experiences so people can feel safer and more secure.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.

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