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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.
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.
Critical infrastructure facilities that must secure large areas with extended outer boundary and numerous entry points, present a particularly difficult challenge when it comes to perimeter protection. As such, true end-to-end perimeter protection calls for the utilization of a sophisticated, multi-layered solution that is capable of defending against anticipated threats. Integrated systems that incorporate thermal imaging, visible cameras, radar and strong command and control software are crucial for covering the various potential areas of attacks. Let’s look at these technologies and the five key functions they enable to achieve an end-to-end solution that provides intrusion detection, assessment and defense for the perimeter. 1. Threat Recognition The first step in effectively defending against a threat is recognizing that it’s there. By combining state-of-the-art intrusion detection technologies, facilities can arm themselves with a head start against possible intruders. An exceptionally important aspect of effective perimeter protection is the ability to conduct 24-hour surveillance, regardless of weather conditions, environmental settings, or time of day. Visible cameras do not perform as well in low light scenarios and inclement weather conditions. However, thermal imaging cameras can provide constant protection against potential intruders, regardless of visual limitations, light source or many environmental factors. In fact, facilities such as power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create what is known as a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall. Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool Critical infrastructure applications require not only continuous video surveillance and monitoring, but also a solution that yields highly reliable intrusion detection, with fewer false alarms. This need makes advanced video analytics a must for any adequate surveillance system. Features like dynamic event detection and simplified data presentation are game changing in supporting accurate intrusion analysis and facilitating a proactive response. Advanced analytics will provide multiple automated alarm notification options, including email, edge image storage, digital outputs or video management software (VMS) alarms. Incorporating high quality, unique and adaptive analytics can virtually eliminate false alarms, allowing security personnel to respond more efficiently and effectively, while also lowering overall cost for the end user. While surveillance technologies such as radar, thermal imaging and visible cameras, or video analytics work well on their own, utilizing all of these options together provides an advanced perimeter detection system. For example, ground surveillance radar can detect possible threats beyond the fence line as they approach and send a signal to pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, triggering them to slew to a specific location. From there, embedded analytics and visible cameras can further identify objects, notify authorized staff, and collect additional evidence through facial recognition or high-quality photos. 2. Automatic Response Systems Once an intrusion attempt is discovered, it is important to act fast. Organizing a response system that can initiate actions based on GPS location data, such as the slewing of PTZ cameras, automated intruder tracking or activated lighting sensors, greatly increases staff’s situational awareness while easing their workload. For instance, thermal imagers deployed in conjunction with video analytics can be used to generate an initial alarm event, which can then trigger a sequence of other security equipment and notifications for personnel to eventually respond to. Having all of this in place essentially lays the entire situation out in a way that allows responders to accurately understand and evaluate a scene. Power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall 3. Deterring Suspicious Activity After the designated auto-response mechanisms have activated and done their job, it is time for responders to acknowledge and assess the situation. From here, authorized personnel can take the next appropriate step toward defending against and delaying the threat. Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool. Often, control room operators can diffuse a situation by speaking over an intercom, telling the trespasser that they are being watched and that the authorities have been notified. This tactic, known as ‘talk down’, also allows officers to view the intruder’s reaction to their commands and evaluate what they feel the best next step is. If individuals do not respond in a desired manner, it may be time to take more serious action and dispatch a patrolman to the area. 4. Delay, Defend, Dispatch And Handle The possible danger has been identified, recognized and evaluated. Now it is time to effectively defend against current attacks and slow down both cyber and physical perpetrators’ prospective efforts. Through the use of a well-designed, open platform VMS, security monitors can manage edge devices and other complementary intrusion detection and response technologies, including acoustic sensors, video analytics, access control and radio dispatch. A robust VMS also enables operators to control functions such as video replay, geographical information systems tracking, email alerts and hand-off to law enforcement. With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level The primary purpose of the delay facet of the overall perimeter protection strategy is to stall an attempted intrusion long enough for responders to act. Access control systems play a key role in realizing this objective. When a security officer sees a non-compliant, suspicious individual on the camera feed, the officer can lock all possible exits to trap them in one area all through the VMS. 5. Intelligence: Collect Evidence And Debrief More data and intelligence collected from an event equals more crucial evidence for crime resolution and valuable insight for protecting against future incidents. With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level. One innovative resource that has become available is a live streaming application that can be uploaded to smart phones and used for off-site surveillance. This app gives personnel the power to follow intruders with live video anywhere and allows operators to monitor alarm video in real-time. Geographic Information System (GIS) maps are computer systems utilized for capturing, storing, reviewing, and displaying location related data. Capable of displaying various types of data on one map, this system enables users to see, analyze, easily and efficiently. Multi-sensor cameras, possessing both visible and thermal capabilities, provide high-contrast imaging for superb analytic detection (in any light) and High Definition video for evidence such as facial ID or license plate capture. Integrating these two, usually separated, camera types into one helps to fill any gaps that either may normally have. Still, in order to capture and store all of this valuable information and more, a robust, VMS is required. Recorded video, still images and audio clips serve as valuable evidence in the event that a trial must take place to press charges. Control room operators can use data collection tools within their VMS to safely transfer video evidence from the field to the courtroom with just a few clicks of their mouse. More advanced video management systems can go a step further and package this data with other pertinent evidence to create a comprehensive report to help ensure conviction.
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