You’re Not Alone
Choosing the proper access control system has many considerations
- By Steve Bardocz
- September 15, 2022
Is facility security something that you’re worried about? If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. According to the 2022 Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence Report, 88% of security correspondents are experiencing a dramatic increase in physical threat activity that is anticipated to grow this year.
A staggering 66% reported receiving or investigating at least one physical threat per week. The top things that are keeping security leaders awake at night include physical threats related to social or political issues, active shooters and C-suite focusing more on supply chain and cyber security instead of location specific facilities. Facility security is more important now than it ever has been. To understand how to mitigate risk in 2022, we have to start at the beginning.
It All Starts with Access Control
Physical locks and keys can and should continue to be used, but the evolution of access control has provided enhanced technological innovation to facility security. Quality access control systems allow for employee access to be restricted or granted into individual facilities, campuses, buildings, and rooms. Door security, whether using doors, turnstiles, or, lift gates is controlled by the parameters set by your access control settings.
Selecting the right access control system for your organization is the foundation of a quality facility security plan. Choosing the right access control system for your organization has several main considerations. Will you use cloud or on premise hosting? Is there one door or hundreds of doors? Will you use prox cards and do you need mobile credentials?
Once you have the right access control system in place for your organization, the next step is staff tracking. When every employee is properly using their badges to get in and out as they enter and leave the building and campus, you have a powerful tool in your facility security toolkit. You will be able to properly account for all employees at all times.
You will have a historical audit trail of employees as they come and go complete with custom reporting. This real-time data can also be viewed from any device including smartphones, computers and status boards to see who is where at any time. Being able to account for all of your employees’ whereabouts at any time is a critical step in enhancing your facilities physical security.
Visitor management. Once your access control system is up and running and all your employees are accounted for at all times, the next step in facility security is controlling and tracking your visitors and contractors. Visitors need to be accounted for as they enter and exit.
There are three options, namely, having an attended station with a physical receptionist who greets and logs in visitors; using an automated, self-serve process that leverages a kiosk; or using a hybrid approach with a kiosk and receptionist or security guard. There are advantages to each approach, and you will need to select which one best suits your organization.
The best practice for a secure facility is for visitors to be given credentials. These can allow for quick identification, clearly state if they need to be escorted, and determine what buildings and doors they will have access to. With proper and thorough security screening and credentialing to visitors, you will have the same level of visibility and accountability for your visitors as you have for your employees. Real-time dashboards, custom reports, and audit trails will be available on a single pane of glass from any and every device, assuring past and present visibility to all staff and visitors that enter and exit the facility.
Security screening. The last two years have made screening both employees and visitors an enormous challenge, as COVID-19 has added extra dimensions to the process. Not only do many organizations have their original security protocols, but now they need a health screening as well. Physical security compliance requirements must be determined for each person that arrives on site. Employees, visitors, contractors, guests, patients, volunteers and delivery drivers are all examples of potential different screening protocols.
Evolving systems now allow an organization to collect information before people arrive onsite. Custom questionnaires, information for background checks, health screenings and even uploading COVID-19 test results can be done in advance. Determining what information needs to be collected and whether it should be done before or after arrival onsite is a big piece of your facility security screening process.
Additional security measures that can be added to the screening process include watching safety videos, signing an NDA, a liability waiver, uploading proof of a certification, having correct ID or passing health standards such as a temperature check. A process will need to be in place in case someone fails a screening. Is entry clearly restricted and are the right people notified that this person was not granted access? Having clear instructions for a failed screening is a critical part of your facility security plan.
Emergency situations. You may have heard the stoic proverb, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst”. While it’s unlikely that an active shooter or violent tornado will hit your facilities in 2022, by planning for these events you can greatly mitigate the fallout if an unfortunate event does happen. An important piece of emergency planning is being able to account for all employees, contractors, or guests in an emergency.
Mass notifications and emergency mustering leverages the real-time insight of who is onsite to effectively communicate important messages and muster only those who are actually onsite.
The days of using a pen and paper to account for employees are long gone. A good emergency mustering system will integrate with your access control system and allow for designated employees to use a tablet to conduct roll calls. Who is onsite when the emergency struck, where they were last accounted for, and have designated meeting spots where they can swipe their credential.
Video surveillance. Facility security should also include video surveillance. This plays an important part in reducing incidents as research shows less crime is committed when premises are being recorded. Video surveillance also gives organizations real-time visibility to key areas of a facility - particularly useful if there is an emergency or some other safety/security incident.
Cloud surveillance using Artificial Intelligence (AI) gives total visibility and an outstanding audit trail. Video systems can be coupled with additional technology to tell you where visitors and staff came and went, what time they did and even who they were with. Video review assists in incident investigation and can be leveraged for pandemic-driven contract tracing.
With so much uncertainty in the world today, facility security has become a topic on most people’s mind. Many people are familiar with the physical security aspect, but security for an organization should go much deeper than that.
To protect from and prepare for security threats and emergencies, it is best to think of facility security like an onion. Access control and physical security is like the core, and additional layers of security, devices, and applications overlap the core to further protect it.
Visitor Management adds a layer of protection to ensure only people who are supposed to be there are allowed to enter, and those people are properly screened and accounted for. Mass notification and emergency mustering provides a layer to ensure the accountability of every human asset in your facility giving organizations a quick and efficient way to alert and count in the event of an emergency.
Video surveillance is yet another layer giving insight and AI to what is going on and where. These layers are important to the overall safety and security of a facility. Years ago, if you had badge access, you were ahead of the game. Today, you need to think much more about safety and security with so many natural disasters, active shooter situations, fraud, corporate espionage and disgruntled employees. Protect your organization by looking deeper than physical access control and look to “Layer 2” and beyond.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.