In his previous article, Matt Gilmartin of Concept Smoke Screen introduced the... well... concept... of artificial smoke as a defense against burglars.  Here he explores the practicalities of the technology and introduces us to a few of its many applications.

Originally, security fog systems were exclusively a means of preventing loss through burglary, and were utilised only in the manner described in my previous article.  But advancements in technology (partly fueled by ever-growing demand) have resulted in a multitude of choices as to how systems are employed.

Burglar alarms

Currently 95% of the systems installed will be in an anti-burglary role.  In these cases, a simple "relay" trigger from an existing intruder alarm system is able to set off the generator.  This is advantageous for the premises manager as it means he will still only have to operate one system; also, there is no need to install masses of extra detection devices.

That said, all security smoke generators on the market can and do support their own detection which acts as a confirmation trigger for the system.  This prevents the system from activating if the intruder alarm, for instance, false alarms.  These detectors are referred to as "hold-offs" in that they prevent the system from activating until movement is confirmed.

The majority of smoke burglar systems, then, will use a ‘confirmed' trigger utilising two detection devices to provide confirmation - ‘double-knock'.

Smoke as an anti-raid device

An appliction that is growing in popularity is the use of security smoke generators to deter and defeat armed or violent attacks on staff or property.  In this application, the staff have the ability to trigger the security smoke system via a "panic" switch. 

The sudden introduction of security smoke has been shown to do two things:

  1. Place a visual barrier between staff and an assailant.  Once eye contact between an attacker and his victim is broken, the attacker frequently loses his thrall.
  2. Actively confront attackers with an ever increasing barricade that forces them to leave the area.

One of the country's major banks now employs 'stand-alone' security smoke systems to defeat armed or violent attacks on their branches in the daytime.  So far this concept has a 100% success rate.

Stand alone security smoke generators  

People and businesses that have suffered a break-in are at a far greater risk of repeat burglary in the following weeks.  Premise managers face a challenge to upgrade security requirements before they are "hit" again.  Stand-alone security smoke systems are an obvious solution: they can be despatched over night in a bespoke fight case and come pre-configured with their own detection, event log and signaling capabilities.  Arm- and disarmable from a rado keyfob, these machines can be set up to protect premises in minutes.

This application for smoke systems has already found favour with Police Crime Reduction Offices and Community Safety Schemes, as well as with several of the countries top national retailers.  It has also been proven in the field, defeating several burglaries.

Ducted vents

This variation on the basic smoke system improves efficiency if one has a long run of rooms (for example, a series of offices next to each other): they can all be protected using a single generator.

Click here to see Concept Smoke Screen's E-Series, which applies this principle.

ancillary devicesAncillary devices

Many manufacturers now offer supplementary devices that add to the overall deterrent effect.  These include white noise generators (very loud and produce a sensation not unlike sea-sickness in humans) and high intensity strobe lights (imagine driving into thick fog and turning your full beam on, then times it by 1000!)  Security smoke machines started out as a tool for special effects; now one can unleash a multimedia horror show on hapless criminals that will leave them (temporarily) blind, deaf, sick and very, very confused.  One would struggle to find a more all-encompassing defense system.

So where to from here?

In summary, the question is fast becoming not whether one should have a smoke system, but how one should apply it.

The European Standard Working Group is currently working on Standard (50131-8), which carries on from the UK BS7939 and the French CNPP standards.  The presence of this will be a huge leap forward, as it will bring the application and grading of security fog systems in line with other industry standards, simplifying purchases and providing consumers with a guarantee of quality.  Smoke systems, in other words, will enter the mainstream.

This process is being aided by a steady reduction in the cost of security fog systems, which has already brought it into the budget of small business and individuals.

Meanwhile, new technology is being developed both to improve the quality of smoke /  fog production and to integrate it into conventional intruder alarm systems.  IP addressability will also certainly be a requirement in the near future.

The use of fog in a security role has changed the way we look at physical security and loss prevention.  The lessons learned over the past ten years will certainly allow a wider use of what is already now recognized as a highly effective security tool.

Matt Gilmartin, Concept Smoke Screen Limited

Click here to see some smoke in action...

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Why Access Control Is Important
Why Access Control Is Important

When we talk about security, people are often quick to jump to conclusions and picture bouncers, heavy steel doors and alarms that go off as soon as a door is opened. Access control is in fact one of the most common and least invasive methods of adding extra security to a home, communal or business premises – controlling who is able to enter a space based on the use of entry codes, key fobs, and/or access cards. Communal flats and office blocks are where access control is often an important factor in keeping the building secure, though private residences also have their own lowkey methods of access control with burglar alarms and personalized codes. With that said, what is it that makes access codes so effective across so many spaces – and why are they so important in today’s society? Benefits of access control Every time you visit an office space, enter a block of flats, or drive into a gated community, you will likely be faced with restricted access and a code pad – plus a button to ring through if you are a visitor. This is a prime example of access control, whereby the owner of the premises has installed a gate or security door which requires a code to enter from the outside. Pressing the request button puts you through to a controller who can then either grant access or deny access. The primary benefit of access control is that it ensures that a space remains secure Some of these code pads have cameras so that the controller can see the visitor – some just have a microphone and speaker. The primary benefit of access control is that it ensures that a space remains secure – only visited by those who are granted access. This restriction helps to keep residents and property safe, not only deterring burglars but ensuring that they are unable to gain entry without permission. Access control panels Some of the examples of access control panels in use include: Private car parks, granting access to employees or residents or paying guests based on the location. Communal buildings and flat entranceways, granting access to residents. These kinds of access control panels will have multiple buttons, one for each flat so that guests can buzz and speak to their contacts. Offices, granting access to employees and their guests. Another key benefit of access control is that entry and exit data can be tracked Another key benefit of access control is that entry and exit data can be tracked, and data can be used for anything from tracking the use of a building, to understanding and logging when individuals have entered and left the premises. For those who have ever watched a Detective drama, you will know how crucial this kind of data can be to determining alibis! Replacing lost keys Inhouse, this can also be useful in identifying who is around when an incident occurs, and in ascertaining how many people are in the premises in the event of a fire or emergency situation. On top of knowing when individuals are accessing certain spaces, access controls can also be used to restrict access to spaces during certain time periods – for example at the end of a shift, or overnight. This is most often found in commercial spaces and car parks, as private residences will grant access at all hours to residents. Access control plays an important role in security and can impact everything from your insurance bills and insurance cover to the amount you spend on replacing lost keys. By keeping certain spaces restricted, only granting access to those who are supposed to be there for work or through their private residence, you are able to keep individuals safe and protect them from the effect of theft. Preventing unlawful access Access control is particularly crucial in tracking the movement of employees should an incident occur In a workspace, access control is particularly crucial in tracking the movement of employees should an incident occur, as well as making the life of your team much easier in allowing them to move between spaces without security personnel and site managers present. It can also reduce the outgoings of a business by reducing the need for security individuals to be hired and paid to remain on site. For a private homeowner or flat owner, access control is what grants you the privacy and security that you deserve in your own space. Whether the control is placed on the outside of a bin store, car parks, communal entrance way or your own personal flat, creating barriers to prevent unlawful access can make a private residence more appealing to tenants or homeowners, and can also provide information and data about who has entered a building and when. Vacant property security The value of access control is that there are a range of solutions according to your budget, your requirements, and the way that you intend to use access control across your site or inside space. For the most part, access control is considered to be a cost effective way of increasing security, cutting back on personnel while ensuring that access is only granted to those who are supposed to be a specific space. 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Historic Spanish Building Upgrades Security With ASSA ABLOY's SMARTair® Wireless Access Control
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