Driving COVID Adaptations
The impact of tailgating and touchless technology now take on a new importance
Our recent physical security survey clearly revealed
a challenging nexus between security and safety
that has only been exacerbated by the continued
onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic. The specter
of tailgating at secured entrances, especially in
corporate lobbies and commercial buildings, is something that
71% of survey participants regarded as a serious breach – and
more than half of those surveyed said that breach could run into
losses of $500,000, or more.
With the impact of COVID-19 over the past year, tailgating
now not only poses a security threat, but public safety and healthcare
issues as well, and those aforementioned revenue losses may
entail lost work hours and operational slow-downs as much as
possible security incursions. Understanding that office buildings
are being singled out as prime COVID-19 breeding grounds due
to the large number of people coming and going, plus shared
entry points like lobbies, other entry points and public elevators
where germ transfer between people is more likely, the onus has
fallen upon organizations to adopt new procedures that prioritize
both workplace health and safety and security when considering
an access control technology solution.
Plans to reopen a business may be unique for every organization
based on the number of employees and foot-traffic from visitors,
and the vertical market sector it serves, the common design
requirements that support the basics of social distancing, touchless
entry, capacity management, health and screening verification and
remote management are more than just temporary remedies.
A prerequisite discussion on new lobby design with increased
safety and security in the post-pandemic world is why it’s critical
for organizations to control access. What would happen if an unauthorized
person were to gain access through a building’s lobby
or other access points? The risks and liabilities include everything
from basic theft of property and loss of productivity to potential
social unrest and civil liability for failure to ensure “duty of care,”
and may also extend to regulatory fines for compliance breaches.
ADJUSTING ENTRY AND EXIT POINTS
Building operators and owners are finding that in light of the
pandemic, creating a strategic security and COVID-19 health
compliance plan can be achieved by working with a qualified systems
integrator and security/risk consult to help adapt their access
control systems to mesh with new safety mandates.
The traditional security strategies would endorse a single, secured
entry point for controlling access. However, the “new lobby” would
require multiple entry and exit points as a means of reducing lobby
traffic congestion and spreading the traffic out across larger areas to
increase social distancing and lessen the risk of direct human contact.
This concept can easily be accomplished by establishing designated
entry and exit points to identify and categorize the building
population, followed by a determination as to where and how
each set of users should enter the building. Employees can be
funneled to separate employee-only entrances, while the lobby
can be reserved for visitors and packages only.
The design could be taken a step further if there is an opportunity
to direct employees through different entrances around the building,
for example, having office workers enter through the left-wing
entrance and factory workers through the right-wing entrance. The
same protocol can be applied when deciding how packages should
be received, either at the back of the building or the front lobby.
EVOLVING INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS FOR BUILDINGS
When adapting a security system and increasing the visibility
of an organizational health and wellness plan to meet the COVID-
19 challenge, there are evolving integrated solutions available.
Introducing features such as touchless or hand-free access control
technology, automatic door openers and contactless elevator
controls can reduce most common touch points, as can various
remote management options that can allow more flexibility for
administrators when manipulating access control privileges and
modifying building door schedules that monitor a limited inhouse
staffs’ rotating schedules and those workers at home.
Other options to consider would be integrating occupancy
tracking and management software into the access control system
itself or its auxiliary mobile apps to aid in social distancing
and health screening.
Business operations and security that are now being driven
by COVID-19 go beyond increased employee safety issues that
mandate social distancing, staggered operating shifts and temperature
Facility managers are working in tandem with security to migrate
every door in their building’s envelope to a touchless solution
to reduce every possible transmission path for pathogens.
Migrating to a contactless entryway may be viewed as a two-step
process that would address the shift to touchless entries and at
the same time address the new issue of potential compromised
security. With organizations scrambling to make all entrances
across their buildings touchless, the quick fix of retrofitting existing
swinging doors with automatic, low-energy, electric operators,
designed for disabled entry, may create other security issues.
With manual swinging doors, a user typically applies their
credentials to unlock the door, usually, either a card reader or
keypad. Once the door unlocks, the user pulls the door open far
enough to enter, but typically not farther, perhaps only 45 to 60
degrees. The door has already begun the closing process and will
typically re-latch in a few seconds as the user enters the building.
The door usually never reaches its fully open, 90-degree position
making it more difficult for another person
to tailgate inside without collusion. If facility
managers begin to upgrade their manual doors
with automatic, low-energy electric operators,
the typical way of entering changes, creating
more risk of intrusion.
This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Security Today.