Friday, August 05, 2005

Building Security: For Best Results, Use Layers

An article by Maxwell Stevens of RTKL that was recently published in Buildings Magazine covers some of the designs and equipment being used in today's access control and intrusion detection systems. (View the full article here.) The article suggests utilizing a multiple-layered design - he refers to these layers as "rings."

Rings of Security
In a multifamily environment, security is an important issue to consider for any property. Using this ring concept, the perimeter security ring at an apartment community might include a boundary fence, an access gate controlled by a card reader or a toll-style RFID reader, and a telephone intercom system to allow guests to request entry into the community. Surveillance cameras could be mounted to record activities at the gate and around the property.

The second ring might include more card or RFID readers at garages, individual buildings, and any common areas like a clubhouse that the owner may want to restrict access. Parking lots and outdoor common areas should be well lit and can be monitored by more security cameras.

A third ring of security would include cameras that monitor interior hallways and electronic door locks on individual unit doors. These electronic door locks offer powerful reporting tools for property owners. Also, they do not need to be rekeyed when residents move out, and they can still be used when the power goes out. (See an example here.) Individual monitored security alarm systems can also be installed in the property's offices and each living unit.

Student Housing
An extra ring of security is also appearing, particularly in student housing communities. With the popularity of the lease by the bed leasing format, many students could possibly be living with suitemates that they don't know and don't necessarily like or trust. For this reason, some student housing developers are adding electronic door locks at each bedroom door. And rather than a set of keys, residents only require a single card to access their suite, their room, and all the property amenities such as the fitness center and laundry facilities.

Mixed Use/Lifestyle Centers
The "Lifestyle Center," or mixed-use development - a community-centric development that usually incorporates a mix of residential, retail and commercial spaces into a pedestrian-friendly setting - has gained incredible popularity in recent years. Security and access control play an important part in the planning of any mixed-use project: residents need to maintain their privacy and feel secure, but they do not want to be completely secluded from the activity in the rest of the community. And because smart design is such an important feature of these engaging projects, the security systems need to do their job without detracting from the overall aesthetic appeal of the building.

As the article states, security systems are becoming a "key element in protecting life and property" for building owners and their residents. Do your residents feel secure? In the current age of heightened security almost everywhere, what else can be done to thwart would-be criminals? Should security systems be integrated into the initial design planning process, right along with the mechanical and electrical systems? After all, aren't they just as important to your residents?

blog comments powered by Disqus