As a manufacturer that offers a full range of physical security entrance products, Boon Edam has the ability to see changes in buying behavior across its product range. We would like to share with you a trend that we have observed in recent years in the hopes that this may spur further discussion or assist you and your clients.
Physical Security Is Increasing Across all Verticals
Since the terrorist attacks from 9/11, the demand for physical security products (turnstiles, security revolving doors and mantrap portals) has continued to grow across many verticals. There has been a continued and upward trend in the installation of turnstiles and security doors in Class A office buildings (single-owned or multiple tenant) and corporate and government offices and campuses. We have also seen increased installations in more recent years in universities, infrastructure (utilities and gas/oil facilities), data centers (more data centers are being built now worldwide) and airports (Federal support of security staffing is being reduced). Finally, with the recent active shootings that have occurred in K-12 schools, movie theatres and shopping malls, there are new verticals that are searching for solutions. So just about everywhere, owners are looking for physical security solutions.
In summary, it can be said that longstanding verticals are experiencing growth and new verticals are emerging. However, this article is not about “more”….but rather, “more of what?”
The Emerging Trend in Class A Office Buildings
In the last 3 years we’ve observed a shift in physical security installations in Class A office buildings. When you think of a Class A office building that is solely owned or multi-tenant, do you envision a lobby, with a security guard or two at a reception desk and optical turnstiles to allow access to the elevators? If your answer is “yes”, then you are describing what has been the “status quo” since the 1990’s and the emergence of optical turnstiles into the marketplace. And, it is still true today that this is the most common solution for Class A office buildings.
But, here is what we are starting to see:
- The level of security is increasing on the ground floor. This means higher security capabilities are being requested than what is provided by optical turnstiles.
- Physical security is being installed in upper levels in the building vs. only the ground floor.
Overall, we are seeing an entire high rise office building becoming far more secure than in times past, with layers of security within. To use a term from the data center industry, Class A office buildings are “hardening the core.” Let’s take a closer look at what is happening…
What is “Level of Security?”
First of all, when we talk about the level of security we are talking about the ability to control physical passage by users into a secure area. We break this ability down into into three levels based on ability to deter crime as follows:
- Low – Monitoring or controlling traffic – Upon authorization, users are slowed down through a physical barrier, such as a waist high or full height turnstile or a gate. This situation requires supervision at all times because the purely physical operation of the barriers can be defeated by either jumping or piggybacking. The benefit of a low level of security is primarily controlling crowds – such as at a museum, a stadium, mass transit, etc. The role of supervision is to prevent or quickly respond to attempts to defeat the barriers.
- Medium – Tailgating/Piggybacking Detection – A turnstile, typically an optical turnstile, has sensors installed that will sound an alarm when tailgating occurs. This level of security allows for supervision to be at a further distance and possibly less supervisors. However, it should be clear how the supervisor would respond when tailgating occurs. Is anyone else notified to confront the tailgater? Do cameras zoom in to the area to identify the users in the area?
- High – Tailgating/Piggybacking Prevention – The very design or operation of the physical security product makes tailgating or piggybacking impossible or extremely difficult. Examples of such products are security revolving doors or security mantrap portals. No supervision is needed, however cameras are often recommended for monitoring in case of trapped users or suspicious loitering activity nearby.
Thus, we have three levels of security: monitoring traffic, detecting tailgating and preventing tailgating. And, as the level of security increases, the amount of supervision decreases, which has a financial benefit if not an operational benefit. For example, you can reduce supervision staff or allocate them to other areas of need in the building.
Increasing the Level of Security in the Lobby
So, let’s take a look at what is happening in the lobby area of Class A office buildings that are solely owned or have only a single tenant. We are seeing a shift from low and medium levels of security, such as mechanical and optical turnstiles, that require supervision, to the highest level of security provided by security revolving doors, which require no supervision. Visitors to the building can be greeted and provided with a pass at the “front” of the building and proceed through the revolving door, while employees can enter other sides of the building via security revolving doors without any supervision. What’s the payoff or motivation for doing this?
- High crime deterrence on all sides of the building and in the lobby. Downtown locations benefit the most.
- No tailgating occurrences. Ability to accurately know who is in the building at all times via the access control system.
- Less staff needed to supervise and respond – only handle visitors.
- Energy savings from reduced air infiltration of revolving doors vs. swinging doors.
What are the potential downsides to be mitigated?