Ask the Expert
This month's expert, Chris Wetzel, discusses ways to secure recreational facilities
- By Chris Wetzel
- Oct 01, 2008
Central to any young person’s life
is the concept of playtime, much
of which often occurs in the local
recreation center. A hub of activity surrounds
recreation centers, with a variety
of visitors moving through the facility
each day. Seniors involved in exercise
classes, children playing organized
sports, parents picking up or dropping off
their kids and employees of the center are
among the many different visitors. It is
essential to employ an assortment of
security options to ensure that all users
ISSUE:What should be the first step in
securing a recreational center?
SOLUTION: Any recreation director
should begin with a risk assessment of
the facility. A security system integrator
can help. Note how many people use the
facility each day and during what times.
List the equipment that needs to be protected
and how many doors need locks.
Pay attention to the lighting and landscaping
that might impact security. Look
for places where problems are most likely
Cameras are an essential part of any
security plan. It is important to evaluate
the correct number of devices that should
be installed. An experienced integrator
will be able to accurately provide an
effective number to meet the center’s
ISSUE: How can surveillance cameras
best be used to secure a recreational
SOLUTION: Cameras will not only help
record criminal activity but also will help
deter crime. Ask an integrator to ensure
correct camera placement to deter potential
vandals and to help avoid graffiti. It
also is wise to ensure placement of cameras
inside the center, helping to avoid
equipment theft. Many recreation centers
have expensive equipment, from
audio/visual systems to sporting supplies.
The gym floor itself also is valuable and
needs protection from vandals.
Outside the premises, cameras need to
monitor heavily used areas, such as entry
and exit points, play areas and the parking
lot. Parking lots are a haven for bored
young adults, gathering to find some
activity to pass their time. After hours,
recreation centers also may be used by
skateboarders, who could either damage
park equipment or injure themselves.
Cameras can act as a form of protection
from possible liability.
Video from the cameras also needs
to be recorded and saved appropriately.
Talk to an integrator about the best
methods to use. DVRs have surpassed
tape and VCRs as the storage system of
choice and may be a good fit for the
ISSUE: What else can a recreation
director do to ensure visitors’ safety?
SOLUTION: It also is important to
employ some methods of access control
for the center. Recreation centers are public
facilities, so there will be a lot of people
entering and exiting throughout the
day, which increases the importance of
securing private areas such as offices and
storage rooms. These areas require a
higher level of access control. There are
small access systems that, combined with
a few card readers, can provide that added
level of protection.
An integrated plan of access control,
video surveillance and proper training
can greatly enhance security. Recreation
centers are often built adjacent to schools
to share play areas. In that case, talk with
the school district to see if the recreation
center’s security needs can be meshed
with those of the school’s.
With so many people—including
young children—enjoying themselves at
a recreation center, it is incumbent upon
those running the facility to make sure all
users are kept as safe as possible.
READER QUESTION:We are a growing
business that requires vendors and
contractors to be in our offices. The
activity level is often chaotic, and we
would like to be able to have badges for
some of our long-term vendors and
contractors to wear while on the premises.
I don’t know if we are quite ready
for an access control system. Is there a
badge-only solution for us?
SOLUTION: The good news is yes—
and this is a perfect way to migrate into a
card access solution with photo IDs.
Most of the access control software
includes a module to handle the ID badge
portion of this solution. The best investment
that you could make would be to
purchase entry-level access control software,
which is a cost-effective way to use
the ID badge. And your investment also
can help you migrate into access control
if the time arises.
The other aspect of the ID badge is the
equipment for taking the photo and printing
the badge. The ID badge printers will
work with most software, and a standard
digital camera will produce good images
for the ID badge. The other option is to
work with a system integrator who creates
and manages ID badges.