Solving Loitering and Open Access Challenges

Loitering is generally not considered a crime with few instances of arrests reported nationally, but it is becoming an increasing problem for a multitude of reasons. One being the use of private spaces such as public-faced restrooms for drug use, other forms of illicit behavior, or as safe havens where homeless individuals are seeking shelter and protection from the elements. In any case, the misuse and prolonged occupancy of publicly accessible spaces prevents them from being accessed for their intended purposes by legitimate users.

In addition to causing an inconvenience to patrons and employees, the misuse of these spaces increases maintenance and upkeep costs and poses potential liabilities for their respective owners – whether it be a local municipality or a corporation.

Increase in Incidents
The increase in incidents involving public facing spaces has driven the demand for cost-effective and reliable means of detecting when access to these areas occurs, and how long the spaces are being occupied. Otherwise, it becomes difficult if not impossible to determine when an individual occupied a specific area such as a restroom, and how long they have been inside.

The challenge with conventional forms of monitoring and/or limiting entry to public facing areas conflicts with the intent to maintain free access to spaces that should be accessible to the public. This is further compounded by the challenge and often mandated obligation to respect individuals’ rights to privacy. In most instances, this all but automatically precludes the use of traditional access control and video surveillance solutions, and the deployment of staff at every public facing area is simply inefficient on many levels.

It is no secret that new IoT sensor technologies have been finding their way into a multitude of professional and consumer products, including many new and innovative security and business intelligence applications. But these sensors are inherently engineered for integration into more complex and often expensive electronic systems – like access control and video surveillance – and not as stand-alone solutions.

This can make deployment of IoT sensors too costly for most applications where they are most needed and would prove to be most beneficial.

Driving the Demand
Consequently, the market is driving demand for new versatile and cost-effective stand-alone occupancy alert solutions, as more organizations across the country are being forced to deal with issues and liabilities related to publicly accessible spaces. Altronix responded with the development of a new, somewhat simple and highly affordable and effective solution called TempoA2. Designed with an integral two-stage timer, these new occupancy sensors are activated by an optical strike plate on the door to indicate when the door to a room or space is closed.

The sensor can issue an alert that the space has been occupied and activates a timer, preprogrammed for a specific duration of time. When the door is opened, the timer is cancelled. But if the preset duration is exceeded, the sensor issues a second alert. The timer can be programmed for different two-staged alerts with multiple outputs to accommodate diverse types of notification devices – from simple stand-alone lights and sounders to integration with access control and/or video systems that already may be in place.

Additionally, one TempoA2 can be deployed to monitor two adjacent protected areas. This stand-alone, simple to deploy occupancy solution is ideal for public facing facilities that typically have more than one restroom on premise, as is common in most retail establishments, convenience stores, restaurants, universities, sports venues, parks and recreation areas. TempoA2 occupancy sensors can also be equipped with Altronix LINQ network communications to issue real-time remote alarms and status information, along with normal traffic activity monitoring.

In addition to resolving challenges with public facing restrooms, new occupancy sensor solutions like the TempoA2 provide a cost-effective solution for a wide range of vertical applications. A few examples include deployment in banks to monitor traffic in bank vaults; pharmacies to ensure areas with controlled substances are secured; dressing rooms in both large and small retail establishments; nursing rooms and pods commonly found in venues like airports and houses of worship; and even for operational areas like walk in freezers found in most supermarkets and food processing plants to help ensure that freezer doors remain closed to protect valuable inventory.

These are just some of the applications for these new versatile and cost-effective occupancy sensors, that simply make good business sense.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2024 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ronnie Pennington is the national sales engineer at Altronix Corp.

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