Can a Public Entrance also be Secure?
Take a fresh look at manual revolving doors with new features to secure public-use entrances
A few years ago, an urban bank branch was the target
of a public protest. A large crowd gathered, pushed
inside the building and took over the interior lobby.
The protesters disrupted the retail banking business
in the lobby, and attempted to block employees from
going up the escalator to work on the upper floors. The disruption
lasted for hours, disrupting productivity and causing headaches for
management as the news cycled for several days. Luckily, no one
Soon, their security manager called. It turned out that my company
had made the manual revolving doors the crowd had pushed
through, and he was hoping a security upgrade would be possible. I
was glad to tell him there are now new technologies today that can
address physical security…even on standard, architectural revolving
doors used as high-volume public entrances.
When Bad Actors Seek Entry
While crime and violence make for great books or movies, the following
examples involving public entrances can lead to nightmare outcomes
for occupants and building managers:
An angry male student; his girlfriend has just broken up with him; he
heads to her dormitory in the middle of the night, and walks right in.
When a gang member is hospitalized, and the opposing gang
enters the hospital intending to finish what they started.
The Department of Education states in 2017, campuses in the
United States reported 38,100 criminal offenses. That is more than
104 occurrences every day, which could include theft, rape, murder,
robbery, aggravated assault and burglary. A study by the FBI on active
shooter incidents reported that 22 percent of all occurrences between
2016 and 2017 occurred in healthcare and educational facilities, second
only to commerce areas and “open spaces.”
It is clear that even schools and hospitals are not immune to the
damaging impact of crime and violence. Other applications that have
a lot of public traffic are: libraries, museums, attractions, municipal
buildings, government buildings and urban office buildings that
include retail and banking on the ground floor, to name a few. Manual revolving doors are often used at all of these building types.
The Potential Liability
When considering security at a main entrance it is worth mentioning
the impact and liability from crime. The tangible impacts of violent
crime include bad press, a loss of productivity, potential property
damage, and worse, death. An often-overlooked tangible impact is
liability: the potential for lawsuits from victims or victim’s families
involved in the incident. According to reviewjournal.com, after the
United States’ largest mass shooting to date in Las Vegas, 450 injured
people filed lawsuits claiming negligence by multiple parties.
There are also intangible impacts, which can have a profound and
lasting impact on staff or occupants. These intangibles include physical
pain and suffering, and feelings of anxiety, stress, and insecurity
as everyone wonders what could happen tomorrow.
The Manual Revolving Door for Public Entrances
In the crime scenarios mentioned earlier, there are common weaknesses:
the exterior door, which often is a public entrance during the
day. If front desk personnel see trouble outside (distress, fights, weapons,
protests), they need a quick and effective way to stop it from
coming inside and harming others. Exterior entrances must also be
lockable to restrict access outside operating hours.
Typically, architects specify manual revolving doors for new construction
because they save space and energy while elevating the
prestige of a building. They are “always open” to pedestrians and
“always closed” to the outside elements, creating comfortable and
draft-free building interiors.
Manual revolving doors can also help mitigate violence and crime
because they support public access during open hours and can support
controlled access at other times. With the right options, manual
revolving doors can stop unwanted intruders, buying time to get
security staff or law enforcement to deal with a dangerous situation.
Security Feature Options
The following options can be added to manual revolving doors to
provide additional security functionality:
Emergency security lockdown. In the event of an immediate security
threat outside the entrance (protests, drunk and disorderly conduct,
etc.), staff can electrically lock the door wings immediately,
regardless of position, at the push of a remotely-located button, keeping
danger from entering through the front doors.
Remote locking. In the old days, you had to walk up to a door and
push a pin manually into the floor itself to lock a revolving door.
Today, staff can remotely push a button to lock door wings for the
night, or, an access control system can lock the door wings automatically.
If anyone is still in transit in a compartment during the lock
command, the door lets them through and then slows down and
stops with the wings pointed at the end posts in the “x” position and
locks for the night. Once locked, internal guard staff can unlock it
remotely when there is a visitor and they are “approved” via communication
on an intercom system.
Access control integration. Secure afterhours access is possible
via an access control device mounted on the outside of the door.
Upon valid authorization, usually by means of an access card reader,
the door wings will unlock and the user can push to enter the facility.
Once all compartments are clear, the door slows down rotation, positions
itself and relocks.
Thinking of these three features, consider a library or museum:
public visitors can enter during the day under the supervision of
reception staff or guards. At 9 p.m., the door locks and denies entry
to anyone but students who have access credentials. At any time,
day or night, if anything threatening occurs outside the entrance,
inside staff can immediately lock the doors to keep trouble out and
call for help.
While incidents pile up in the news, security professionals must
consider all the options available today. Manual revolving doors in
existing buildings or new construction are worth a second look as
part of a complete physical security plan.
This article originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.