The Role of Security
Adjusting to the new normal in the workplace
- By Jeff Stanek
- Dec 02, 2020
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.
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.