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Securing Healthcare Facilities
Securing Healthcare Facilities

COVID-19 has sparked a flurry of criminal activity across the country, with a particular increase in petty crimes perpetrated against UK healthcare facilities. Bike theft, slashed ambulance tyres and stolen oxygen canisters are just some of the misdemeanours which have significantly grown in frequency since the coronavirus lockdown began in March 2020.  Given the constant, essential work carried out by health services, it’s clear the utmost must be done to protect its physical assets, and staff, from physical attack. Fundamentally, it’s the responsibility of the facilities managers and specifiers to incorporate and carefully balance physical security strategies around healthcare sites to protect patients, visitors, property and assets. The challenge is that many of these sites are continually increasing in size and complexity to meet the higher demand from the population. Fencing, gates, storage enclosures and access control are part of a solution in securing this service sector to enable it to operate effectively 365 days a year. Effective access control Hospitals are fast-paced environments where life and death outcomes often hang in the balance of only a couple of minutes. Efficient, seamless access is therefore key. All gates and access points around the perimeter must be assessed and considered and these access points should be installed and controlled centrally, or regularly monitored. Fencing, gates, storage enclosures and access control are part of a solution in securing this service sector Consider the types of vehicles that require access; the appropriate solution should ensure that, where necessary, emergency vehicles can get in and out of the site unhindered. Effective design for maximum security If automated gates are specified, underground operators are highly recommended to remove any visible signs of surveillance on display. When designing pedestrian and vehicular access: gates should be DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant. Crucially, the design of fencing and gates must accommodate rapid evacuation and access for emergency services. With regards to the car park, it may require rising arm barriers or bollards to secure it. These solutions control access and separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic whilst protecting different buildings, such as specialist units and emergency wards. Promoting wellness through aesthetics Creating a welcoming environment is a core priority when specifying security options for hospitals. Razor or barbed wire may be effective deterrents to potential trespassers, but they create an intimidating and unwelcoming aesthetic, far removed from the sense of wellbeing these developments should promote. A solution that offers both visual appeal and high levels of security is vertical bar security fencing or welded mesh panels. Both provide strong boundary protection and excellent visibility for surveillance, while offering greater protection than other alternatives. Recreational areas  For areas requiring a 'softer' appearance, such as gardens and outdoor recreational areas, timber fencing is an ideal option. Timber has a natural, welcoming appearance and promotes a sense of wellbeing and privacy. As well as offering a pleasing aesthetic, it can also provide a high level of noise protection. This makes it well suited for acoustic fencing, which can improve recreational and recovery areas by protecting them from high levels of noise, transforming them into little oases of calm ideal for recuperation. Outdoor storage areas Hospitals and other medical facilities produce a large amount of medical waste which requires secure outdoor areas and bin stores to hold hazardous materials on-site before they're taken away. Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure these areas are secured using risk-appropriate fencing to avoid potentially dangerous materials getting into the wrong hands. Risk assessments Creating a welcoming environment is a core priority when specifying security options for hospitals Risk assessments are key to ensuring a risk-appropriate solution is installed. For facilities at risk of criminal activity, products accredited by standards including Secured by Design or the Loss Prevention Standards Board’s LPS 1175 are proven to reduce the likelihood of crime. It’s also best practice to locate storage areas in areas away from climbing aids such as lamp posts or trees. The fence should also be high enough to deter attempts at climbing. There are many effective and easy-to-install options on offer when it comes to specifying security for healthcare infrastructures. It is important that each site is judged individually. Every institution is different and will require a unique plan of security structures to ensure it is safe for all personnel.

Automatic Gates: Making The Right Investment For Access Control
Automatic Gates: Making The Right Investment For Access Control

The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more conscious of who is coming and going from our property. Whether it is a family home, business premises or public building, property owners want full control over access for protection and peace of mind. As a provider of access control technologies, we are seeing a growing demand for automated gates with a variety of access control systems. There are a number of considerations that buyers need to make when investing. And as an installer, there is advice that you can offer to help your clients make the right choice for their property. Here are some of the key considerations you’ll need to make and discuss with your client. Whomever you buy from, you should be offered more than a simple instruction manual. Electronic locks, magnetic locks and code security In the first instance, you’ll need to advise on the type of lock and access control available. Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open. Locks are required for all non-locking (also known as reversible) operators and are recommended for any gate on a multi-user site or any gate over 2.5m. Apply the same logic to an automated gate as you would to a domestic door – for example, you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges or a drop bolt at the hinge end of a manual gate so why dispense with this logic when the gate is automated? Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks. These are all designed for external use. While the gate itself will provide physical security, the customer will want to feel in control of who enters their property, when and for what purpose. Consider access for mail and deliveries, waste disposal and visitors arriving on foot etc. There is a range of options available. Intercom systems will allow the user to vet visitors, keypad entry can allow remote access for visitors with a specific code, remote controls allow an oncoming driver to open the gates without getting out of the vehicle, and a timer control can be used to open or close the gates at certain times of the day. Vehicle detection loops can be installed discreetly under the tarmac allowing the presence of vehicles to exit the gates and prevent closing while obstructed. Sliding gates versus swinging gates There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open and in the case of swinging gates, the opener may be concealed underground or gate mounted. The most suitable opener for your installation will depend on the space available and the type of gate selected. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates. However, where gates are fully infilled (typical of many timber designs), gate mounted openers are concealed from the front of the gate by the gate leaf and present a cost-effective option. The choice between slide and swing is largely down to space - swing gates require a clear space for their opening arc while sliding gates require space to one or both sides of the gate. Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited, as they use the least space when opening. Voltage Most swing gate and sliding systems are available in 24v or 230v. The 24v systems still need 230v mains power – there is a transformer built into the 24v control panels. Deciding which voltage to use can include a combination of factors such as the material of the gates, the location of the system and the safety features you want. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates With wrought iron gates, the wind can pass through them whereas with fully boarded wooden gates (popular because they give full privacy) the wind has nowhere to go, so they act like sails. For commercial or industrial applications with larger entrances and a heavy gate, you may need 3 Phase 400v power (sliding gates only). Installing gate motors in confined spaces The environment in which you are fitting may well influence which gate and motor you recommend. Will it be in an exposed area which is subject to the elements? Will it be positioned on a slope? Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited Installers have always faced the challenge of installing gate motors in confined spaces. When fitting a pedestrian gate, there is often limited space in which to work – potentially making an installation time consuming and technically demanding. If this is the case for you, consider a gate operator which is designed specifically for installations with limited space for maneuver. An example of this is the E5 compact gate operator. The operator is not only small but has an optional slide lever attachment designed for installations where there is extremely limited space, meaning that just 8cm of the pillar is needed for installation. What’s more, improved fixing points and a simple ‘hook and fasten’ process means assembly is safe, quick and straight forward. Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good quality, reliable product with good service. Work with a supplier that offers more than just a manual. If they are happy to offer training, their time and advice when you buy, the chances are you’ll get their support long term.

Martyn’s Law: Increasing Resilience For Large Venues
Martyn’s Law: Increasing Resilience For Large Venues

Safety and security have always been primary concerns for those running large events and gatherings, such as at concert venues or soccer stadiums. However, the Manchester Arena attack of 2017 highlighted that more should be done to protect those visiting these locations. This is the standpoint taken by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett – one of the 22 victims of the devastating attack. She has been campaigning for the introduction of stronger counter-terror security measures at public venues and has succeeded in gaining government backing for ‘Martyn’s Law’. According to the Home Office, the law would require venues to consider the risk of an attack and take “proportionate and reasonable measures” to protect those in attendance. Murray’s proposal would see increased physical security, such as airport-style metal detectors and scanners, become mandatory for major venues that draw large crowds, as well as training, incident response plans and exercises for staff. The law would seek to tackle the inconsistent nature of security practices currently seen at venues, and bring holistic counter-terror practices to the fore. Introducing airport-style security measures at concert venues isn’t a fix-all solution However, introducing airport-style security measures at concert venues isn’t a fix-all solution. The ecosystem of these locations must be considered and responded to accordingly. Adding extra checkpoints in areas with a high flow of people will not only result in additional queues and disgruntled visitors, but may have more disastrous consequences as large crowds are typically the target of terror attacks. Disruptive security measures may move the mass of people from inside the venue, where people will have had to pass through some form of security – if only just a bag check – to outside the venue, where there are typically no security measures in place. Disrupting threats with enhanced security So, what can be done to enhance the protection of those attending these locations? Investment into technology that can provide an additional layer of security without being intrusive is key, and facial recognition is one such tool. Security teams can use this innovative technology to scan crowds or queues for a sighting of a person of interest, whose biometric data is included on a watch list of known individuals. As well as providing an additional layer of protection, this tool can provide peace of mind for security teams who can monitor those who have not yet entered the venue or are waiting outside. When the facial recognition system identifies a potential match, staff must be prepared to act – as the system will never make the final decision over a person’s fate. They can analyze the picture from the watch list with the video of the individual identified, decide whether the detection was accurate and then interact directly with the person of interest. The level of contact may be as simple as asking for proof of identity and if adequately able to verify who the person is, no further action is needed and any biometric data is removed. Alternatively, it could lead to the acquisition of a known criminal, providing valuable intelligence of any immediate threat. When the facial recognition system identifies a potential match, staff must be prepared to act The real benefit of facial recognition is that response can be proactive as well as reactive, whether it be from fixed surveillance cameras or mobile devices such as body worn cameras. Devices capable of live streaming coupled with analytics such as facial recognition, offer an invaluable surveillance tool, allowing security teams and first responders to react quickly and more effectively to an unfolding situation, all in real-time. Control centre staff are still vital in this circumstance, but are able to work with heightened situational awareness thanks to the live streaming aspect. It allows them to more accurately assess a situation and therefore make decisions based on all of the information at hand, with outcomes that will be far more effective. For example, the information relayed to the emergency services will be more exact in terms of what happened, where and who was involved – rather than being based on fragmented eyewitness accounts. Planning ahead Even though it isn’t yet official, Martyn’s Law is already making waves in the industry – with Manchester City Council pledging to adopt the law early and the security minister, home secretary and prime minister all “100% behind” the proposal. Despite its early stages, operators of concert venues and stadia must start forward planning and enhancing security measures ahead of the government beginning to consult on the law in the spring. Only time will tell what the full legislation will entail, but we can all agree that action is necessary. In order to be as effective as possible, the law should not only mandate metal detectors and bag searches, but technology such as facial recognition and body worn cameras that can work to enhance these other measures and elevate the human response.

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