By Dominic Burns

With winter on its way across much of North America, many companies are re-evaluating their security and safety protocols as they strive to maintain business operations during the cold and flu season, a time of the year now further complicated due to COVID-19.

For the past nine months, security directors have been working diligently to develop return to work plans for office buildings that support social distancing and measures to prevent the spread of germs. Part of that plan has included identifying ways to leverage existing security solutions to support a safer work environment. However, how could that plan look now, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing? Here are a few considerations:

Link screening protocols with access control

Many corporate offices already have an access control system in place, but these systems were originally configured to grant access after a card holder followed a single or two-factor identification process, such as presenting a credential installed on the users phone to a frictionless Bluetooth enabled card reader.

Consider the installation of facial recognition technology which incorporates facial recognition, mask detection, and elevated temperature. With the addition of this technology the user no longer has to “touch” a card reader. After the screening process, if all of the criteria have been met then the system user is granted access.

Another idea includes having an employee complete a prescreening document before being permitted access. The prescreening document can be integrated with the access control system, and if the employee meets all of the company’s COVID-19 safety protocols then access would be granted. Some access control systems with a built-in touchscreen interface for users can present a series of questions to the card holder before allowing them to enter an area. This functionality can be used to ask questions such as does the individual have a cough, have they traveled outside a pre-defined area or been in contact with anyone recently who tested positive for COVID-19.

Access control systems can also help manage occupancy limitations in specific areas. For example, a business which requires employees to present an access control credential when entering a specific workspace could also require the person to present a badge again upon leaving. The system can be configured to keep a running tally of those who have swiped into a space and to deny entry if that area has reached capacity – such as a lunch room or mailroom.

Surveillance systems monitor mask detection, occupancy levels

Surveillance systems are another existing tool a business can leverage as part of their security and safety plan relating to COVID-19.

As part of the process to monitor each visitor, consider using your existing surveillance system to check whether an employee or visitor is wearing a mask. A simple visual verification, using remote monitoring capabilities, can help ensure that staff and visitors are following guidelines requiring wearing a mask upon entering a space.

There are several recently introduced surveillance technologies that can automate the mask detection function. These systems have the ability to flag an individual who is not wearing a mask, enabling the proper steps to be taken, such as notification to security. Some of these solutions are available through a simple software upgrade to an existing video management system, for example.

Up until now, people counting technology was mainly used by retailers who wanted to ensure their store was properly staffed during peak times or to identify high traffic areas, such as popular displays. This same technology can be leveraged to help a retail store, gym or restaurant ensure they do not exceed maximum occupancy numbers.

A majority of companies today have already invested in a myriad of security solutions. With a few adjustments, these systems that were primarily used to detect an intruder or identify a shoplifter can now be leveraged to help businesses safely reopen and stay open.

The post Leverage your existing security system to follow COVID-19 guidelines appeared first on Security-Net Blog.

Source: Security-Net Blog

By David Alessandrini, Pasek Corporation

The work from home movement continues, with much of corporate America postponing the full reopening of offices as part of efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, office occupancy numbers remain low compared to pre-pandemic rates.

This scenario – with many offices remaining virtually empty – provides an ideal opportunity for corporations to make improvements within their facilities, such as security and HVAC upgrades or workspace and traffic pattern reconfigurations.

For near empty facilities, one of the greatest advantages of tackling a security project now – whether to install new surveillance cameras or touchless door openers – is that noise and infringing on working employees is less of an issue.

Security integrators often work closely with customers to map out an installation timeline to ensure as little impact as possible on employees or customers inside a building. An occupied building can limit when, where and how an integrator can install or repair systems, with work often getting pushed to the evening or weekend to minimize disruption. This can turn a project into a more expensive job because it now requires overtime pay for the security technician.

With fewer people in offices these days, contractors gain more access to the building since their movement and work is less likely to disrupt business operations. Employees working at their desk are not impacted when a technician runs wire through ceiling tiles, for example. Entrances that would need to remain open to accommodate employees coming and going to work can now be taken offline during regular business hours to install hands-free entrance solutions.

As a result, end users are finding that projects are being completed within a shorter period of time. This, in turn, can result in an overall cost savings for the project.

Reduced occupancy numbers also create a safer environment for everyone, limiting contact and interaction with others as people continue to follow social distancing guidelines. While many businesses have adopted procedures to screen visitors, such as temperature checks when someone enters a facility, lower occupancy numbers support a safer environment for contractors as well.

As companies postpone reopening offices, now is the time to plan for the future. Nearly empty workspaces enable contractors of all types to complete projects in a timely, and less disruptive fashion, enabling corporate America to lay the groundwork to welcome back employees in what many hope will be the not too distant future.

The post Why now is the ideal time to make security improvements at your workspace appeared first on Security-Net Blog.

Source: Security-Net Blog

By Dominic Burns, AC Technical Systems Ltd.

Much of what people do on a daily basis involves touching hundreds of items without thought – we turn a door knob to open a door, touch a keypad to type on a computer and push elevator buttons to close the door and select a floor. Until recently, people didn’t have to worry about these simple actions, as they didn’t pose a potential health and safety risk.

As COVID-19 has changed how we do interact with people, eliminating hand shaking and promoting social distancing, it has also impacted our desire, or lack thereof, to touch things. As a result, the security industry is seeing greater emphasis being placed on implementing solutions that can support a touchless security experience – eliminating the unnecessary transfer of germs between surfaces and people.

Few people leave their home without their mobile phone in their pocket or purse. While mobile credentialing has slowly grown over the past few years, this technology is expected to increase considerably. Mobile credentials discourage the practice of sharing of proximity cards between employees, such as when someone may forget their card at home and cannot gain access into the company parking lot. It also enables companies to more easily monitor and manage access privileges, eliminating the need for in-person interaction to issue a new security badge.

Automatic doors are the norm for many large-scale retailers, such as grocery stores and big box chains, but this security technology will now trickle down to include smaller business types. Security directors are investing in magnetic door strikes to turn once manually operated doors into automatic, whether it’s connected to an access control reader or via an automatic door sensor.

While many building entrance doors are currently equipped with a handicap button to automate opening and closing to be ADA Compliant, this function will soon move to incorporate completely touch free solutions. Touchless buttons will replace the large touchpad, requiring a person to only wave a hand in front of the button to activate the door.

Keypads are perhaps the most commonly used access control solution, due in part to the low-cost nature of these systems and the flexibility to scale up based on needs. However, due to COVID-19, many businesses do not currently want to leverage a system that requires people to push multiple buttons.  As an alternative, businesses have begun to invest in a cover that can be placed over the keypad and then turn the keypad into a card reader and a touchless access solution.

The security industry is adapting to the new security norms, and market demands. Security directors are driving a market shift that now includes implementing new solutions designed to facilitate a touchless security experience.

The post The New Security Buzzword – Touchless Security appeared first on Security-Net Blog.

Source: Security-Net Blog