Access control controllers - Expert commentary

Video intercoms for a smarter, safer workspace
Video intercoms for a smarter, safer workspace

Though many office workers across the globe have found themselves working remotely for the past year, we are seeing a bit of a silver lining, as vaccine rollouts hint at a return to some pre-pandemic sense of normalcy. However, while some of us might opt for a fully-remote work life, others are anticipating a hybrid solution. Even before the pandemic, offices were taking a new, more open layout approach—moving past the days of cubicles and small office configurations. Going forward, offices and other workspaces will be tasked with supporting a hybrid work solution, as well as increasing hygiene measures. Video intercom solution This is where an IP video intercom solution can assist. Below are four ways they can help usher in a smarter, safer work environment: Video intercoms assist in creating a more hygienic work environment - The outbreak of COVID-19 has raised awareness of germs and just how easily a virus can be transmitted by face-to-face contact. Germ barriers are popping up in many aspects of our daily lives, where we were not likely to see them before Unfortunately, the door is also the easiest of these germ barriers to breach As such, we’re becoming accustomed to seeing plexiglass barriers at restaurants, grocery stores, and even coffee shops. However, many don’t realise that one of the best germ barriers is a simple door. Unfortunately, the door is also the easiest of these germ barriers to breach. All it takes is a knock or a doorbell ring to make us open our germ barrier and be face-to-face with whomever is on the other side. Increasing hygiene safety A simple step to increase hygiene safety and visitor security in commercial buildings and workspaces is an IP video intercom. Installing a video intercom will allow staff to see and speak with visitors without breaching that all-important germ barrier. A video intercom system provides a first line of defence, enabling the user to visually confirm the identity of the person on the other side of the door first before granting access. It can also be used to make sure proper procedures are being followed before a person is allowed to enter, such as using hand sanitiser, wearing a mask, and following social distancing guidelines. Basic security needs A major topic of conversation the past year has been how to manage occupancy in all facilities Video intercoms for occupancy management and basic security - A major topic of conversation the past year has been how to manage occupancy in all facilities—ranging from grocery stores and retail shops to restaurants and commercial buildings. Workspaces and offices are no exception. A video intercom provides a quick and convenient method of seeing who, or what, is on the unsecure side of the door before opening. For basic security needs, if a business has a door opening into an alley, a video intercom would be used to ensure no one is waiting outside to force their way in when the door is opened. Personal protection equipment Such solutions can also be used to ensure a person is carrying proper credentials, or wearing proper personal protection equipment (PPE), before entering a sensitive area. For example, if a lab has a room which can only be accessed by two persons at a time wearing specific protective gear, a video intercom could ensure each person is properly equipped, before allowing access that particular room. Additionally, for office or workspaces that have shared common areas, such as a cafeteria, gym or even conference rooms, managing access to these spaces will remain a priority, especially with post-pandemic restrictions in place. Video intercoms are a comprehensive safety and security tool for any workspace Deliveries of packages, work-related materials, or even food are common in any office or workspace. Video intercoms can assist in facilitating safe deliveries by visually and audibly confirming the identity of the individual. The visitor could be your next big client, your lunch delivery, a fellow employee with a faulty access card, or your mail. Video intercoms are a comprehensive safety and security tool for any workspace. Visitor management systems Video intercoms provide a cost-effective solution in small to mid-sized office facilities - One significant advantage of video intercom systems is the variety of applications available. Systems range from simple one-to-one video intercoms, to buzz-in systems, to full-fledged visitor management systems in mixed-use buildings. While they might lack the resources and manpower many enterprises have, small-to medium-sized offices can also take steps to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Like any business, controlling who comes into the building is a primary way of maintaining safety. Video intercoms work in conjunction with access control systems to provide an identifying view of visitors or employees with lost or missing credentials. They allow staff to both see and hear those on the unsecured side of the door to determine intent before granting access. Most quality video intercoms will provide a clear enough image to allow an identification card to be read by holding it close to the lens, adding another opportunity to verify identity. Touchless intercom activation One major trend is the option of providing a touchless door activation Video intercoms provide a touchless option - Even prior to COVID-19, one major trend is the option of providing a touchless door activation or touchless intercom activation of a video intercom for those without proper credentials. Though touchless isn’t a new solution to the access control market, the pandemic introduced a renewed focus on these types of solutions to provide hygienic access to visitors. For offices and other workspaces looking to make investments into post-pandemic solutions to assist in reopening, touchless can support these efforts. When it comes to smart, secure workspaces, many people think instantly of cameras or monitors, access control, and alarm systems. Proper access credentials However, video intercoms are often the missing piece of a building’s security puzzle. A video intercom provides an identifying view that is not always available from a camera covering a large area. They allow those without proper access credentials a method of requesting entry, and just like cameras, they can be activated by alarms to allow staff to clearly see and communicate. If a workspace or office is important enough to be secure, it’s important enough to be sure of who is there before the door is opened. In 2021, it’s not enough to ensure the physical security of your staff and visitors, but also to ensure they are accessing a hygienic environment. Video intercoms provide that security and peace of mind.

Physical security in 2021: Post-pandemic solutions
Physical security in 2021: Post-pandemic solutions

In a world forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic, companies worldwide are now expanding their concept of physical security to best safeguard their facilities and employees. Few incidents have had as much of an impact on businesses globally as the COVID-19 pandemic; much of the world is still struggling to contain COVID-19, navigating the lasting effects and exploring what the “new normal” looks like. While some organisations are still engaged primarily in “anywhere operations”, i.e. remote work, many organisations are implementing strategic physical security solutions that better protect everyone through the use of video surveillance technology and advanced intelligence capabilities. As this new normal takes hold within the business environment, security strategies will largely be centered around several key initiatives like access control, people counting, occupancy controls, temperature screening, contact tracing, and reducing office touch points. With the use of a video management system (VMS) in the shadow of COVID-19, occupancy data from a VMS can trigger a lockdown and not permit new entrants until the occupancy drops below a certain threshold; this is significantly useful for organisations that have returned to in-person work.  But there’s a caveat: though many legacy security systems are being re-evaluated to allow for touchless or frictionless access control — a move designed to eliminate the need for employees and visitors to physically touch a surface when using an access control system — upgrading the outdated technologies can be cumbersome and expensive, especially for organizations that had not planned for an interruption like the pandemic. Security contractors will be vital So, what is the solution? Security contractors will play a vital role in helping end-users across a range of vertical markets — large and small — to achieve their goals in the new paradigm. For some, this may mean leveraging existing access control and video surveillance systems with upgrades where needed. For others, an entire overhaul is made possible with budget friendly solutions for businesses to migrate to integrated access control through end-to-end security solutions that tie into existing infrastructures without major disruptions (meaning the organisation will never be left vulnerable). Cybersecurity is becoming even more intertwined with physical security There is massive transformation occurring in the security industry, most notably the movement to digitise physical access and integrate it with video management systems and surveillance. This shift means that cybersecurity is becoming even more intertwined with physical security, allowing organisations the ability to correlate the metadata of people’s behaviors and activities — a plus point for those looking to remain vigilant against future pandemic-esque business interruptions. Access, video, and audio are converging into consolidated platforms. Due to lower costs and pairings with IP-based, wireless infrastructure, there are infinite solution configurations. IT security requirements are beginning to apply to physical security because of this integrated infrastructure. Multi-factor authentication The security industry is also beginning to see a trend of multi-factor authentication, which is going to dominate in the days to come as it makes solutions more reliable. Most people carry smartphones these days, which have green check communication capabilities that allow easy multi-factor authentication. Costs are going down, and algorithms are getting better, making more people willing to try it. Some new solutions have both the fingerprint reader and a camera for facial biometrics Some new solutions have both the fingerprint reader and a camera for facial biometrics. Cameras and CCD modules cost almost nothing, and they do not have to be super high-end anymore, especially if organisations are doing one-to-one verification. It’s not just about security now; it is security, health, and safety. Access control with video, intelligent readers, and credentials is a perfect platform for next generation solutions.

Access control and door entry management: How technology is driving change
Access control and door entry management: How technology is driving change

Access control and door entry is a huge responsibility, and challenge, for local authorities and housing associations UK wide. For councils, they’re accountable for the security and safety of many public facilities such as leisure centres, libraries as well as residential housing developments which are often large scale and home to hundreds of people. Housing associations manage affordable rental housing which also means they’re responsible for the appropriate access control management for each individual house or flat. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage. For example, with modern intercom and access control systems, remote management and communication is something that offers local authorities and housing associations features that enable them to reduce costs and cut their carbon footprints by managing multiple sites from one place. On the other hand, such technological innovation has meant that local authority and housing association specifiers and consultants now have a wide range of systems and products to choose from which can cause issues in ensuring the right system for a specific building or development is chosen. Choosing an appropritate access control system In choosing an appropriate system, local authorities and housing associations need to opt for a cost effective solution that can be easily maintained with excellent support from the manufacturer and guarantees that the system and system parts will remain supported for the duration of its expected life cycle. It is also important that the chosen system is flexible to cater for the varying needs of the tenants and visitors. Of increasing importance is the reduction of anti-social behaviour which new technology can help by providing the use of data loggers which track the use and events of a door entry system, allowing specific evidence to be located by integrating with CCTV. Using technology to our advantage Through advancements in management systems and services, we can gain a much better visual representation of the events and general usage of an intercom entry system and not just its proximity access control. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management. We are now able to modify user rights and access levels on the go from a mobile app which enables a much greater control over service and maintenance engineers, such as making sure they have full access when required via an app, rather than arriving to site with the incorrect keys or access fob. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management Dealing with tenant’s lost and stolen keys has never been so easy either. The blocking or deletion of lost fobs and adding a new fob can be carried out in minutes while at the same time removing the cost of sending an engineer to the development to programme new fobs. This greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the whole task as fobs can now be sent out via post to a secure location for collection. Technology has also helped local authorities and housing associations to overcome the issue of not being able to have a concierge or building manager available 24/7 at some developments. Now with internet communication, it’s possible for tenants and visitors to get in touch with someone should they need assistance, whether that’s from within the apartment or from an entrance point. For example, lets take the Videx VX2200 with IP concierge integration. This system is exceptionally flexible, enabling calls to be answered on Videx intercoms and also mobile phones if required. With the integration of the IP concierge each block can be either standalone or networked via the internet back to a central control room. Reduced maintenance costs and carbon footprint We work with a wide range of local authorities and housing associations to help them overcome access control and door entry challenges. One organisation we have recently partnered with is The Living Group to help them greatly reduce their maintenance costs and carbon footprint by installing the MiAccess offline proximity system on many of their developments across the North East. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage By installing an appropriate system, The Living Group has managed to overcome issues caused by the existing system’s limitations and also enabled much more flexibility when it comes to effectively managing the access control system of all their included developments. For those responsible for effective and appropriate access control, the management of the systems are easier, quicker and there’s no delay or on-going costs for needing a specialist programme to modify fobs and access rights as this can now all carried out in-house. Improved security legislation Further advancements in programmes such as Secured by Design (SBD), a police initiative that improves the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work and visit, means that there’s more security legislation being implemented that’s making intercoms and access control more secure, without affecting ease and convenience. Videx holds an SBD accreditation and we know, from first-hand experience, how it’s making a difference in keeping tenants safe. When you combine the safety features promoted by an SBD member company like ourselves with the likes of the Videx event logging, image capture and ability to modify access users on the go, for example, we can help to create a very safe and secure environment. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation Technology has completely transformed the way local authorities and housing association are able to choose, install and manage door entry and access control systems for tenants and visitors alike. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation such as Secured by Design to ensure all councils and housing association consultants are up to date with what constitutes a robust and secure system that’s also cost effective too. In my role, I see weaknesses in systems and constant ongoing costs that could easily be avoided. For instance, features such as timed remote entry means local authority and housing association management no longer need to worry about keys being lost, the wrong keys being supplied or locks needing to be changed. With new systems such as the Videx MiAccess and Videx WS4 range, we can help to massively reduce a housing association’s or council’s carbon footprint and engineer costs by allowing them the access to management and control from an offsite location. Crime prevention We can also use live and logged events to help prevent crime in different ways, from antisocial behaviour growing around a tenant being called or visited much more regularly than others, to knowing a tenant is currently still living at a property but isn’t paying rent or answering to any correspondence. Technology enables local authorities and housing associations to receive detailed data and therefore behavioural insights on the people under their management and care. If consultants and specifiers are advised on the most appropriate systems that meet their specific entry needs, they can ensure greater, safer and more convenient access control that meets the requirements of both the end user and the those responsible for its effective management.

Latest Alpro Architectural Hardware (a division of IEC Limited) news

IDF Aluminium safeguards a building in London’s Finsbury Square by installing Alpro’s transom closers and locks
IDF Aluminium safeguards a building in London’s Finsbury Square by installing Alpro’s transom closers and locks

IDF Aluminium has installed transom closers, solenoid locks and hook locks from Alpro Architectural Hardware at a building in a historic section of London’s Finsbury Square. 4 Chiswell Street backs onto the Artillery Ground which has seen archery in Tudor times, some of the first organised games of cricket in the 1730s and even a hot-air balloon flight in 1784. The four-storey structure was refurbished by main contractor Parkeray to a design by Ben Adams Architects that created column-free office space with exposed concrete soffit and a signature golden mesh & grille facade based on curtain walling with bold circles. Automatic voltage regulation The glazing is unusual since the Reynaers’ curtain walling for the double-height reception uses innovative bracketry to support massive panes from Euroview Architectural Glass. The Alpro closers are on the distinctive gilt exterior doors and the client is also benefiting from solenoid bolts in the door heads. Alpro transverse action deadlocking bolts offer high levels of physical strength with holding forces of up to 2,000kg Alpro transverse action deadlocking bolts offer high levels of physical strength with holding forces of up to 2,000kg, a bolt throw of 14mm and models with oversize pins. The advanced microprocessor module provides power reduction allowing for continuous operation without heat generation as well as automatic voltage regulation, dual monitoring and access control features to fully monitor and control movement. Installers can use housings from the same series for surface mounting which facilitates the securing of glass doors. Dress plates are offered for a clean finish. Public sector environments The 4 Chiswell Street refurbishment was carried out with tenants in occupation and even involved use of abseiling techniques to replace glazing. A temporary reception was created for access and egress. Daylight has been maximised and floor-to-ceiling height is used wherever possible in a design that meets the Equality Act and includes a revised fire strategy. IDF specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of aluminium doors. The door projects are often in business and public sector environments where usage may be high but maintenance costs must be minimised. IDF has 30 years’ experience in the shop front and commercial door market. The company ensures a quality service by designing and fabricating all of its doors and shop fronts in-house with no use of sub-contractors. The client portfolio covers transport, local government, healthcare and education from schools through to universities.

Alpro and IDF Aluminium secure Thomas House with enhanced door entry solutions
Alpro and IDF Aluminium secure Thomas House with enhanced door entry solutions

IDF Aluminium has installed transom closers and latch locks from Alpro Architectural Hardware at a building that provides premium co-working and flexible office space in central London near Victoria Station. Thomas House in Eccleston Square is a seven-storey structure with a facade in Regency style and a distinctive timber-clad reception that leads to two wings. It has collaborative drop-in work areas, meeting rooms and facilities to suit present-day practices. The building has been refurbished for The Office Group who pioneered shared workspaces in Britain and now offers these services across multiple London locations as well as Bristol and Leeds. Hydraulic door controls The Alpro transom closers are a means of hydraulically controlling the opening and closing of aluminium doors The Alpro transom closers are a means of hydraulically controlling the opening and closing of aluminium doors. They allow precise adjustment of the latching and closing force generated by the valve according to the weight and height of individual doors as well as type of usage. Aesthetics are a major consideration for The Office Group who briefed Soda Studio, an architectural practice known for its clean simple interiors, to create a design in keeping with the neighbouring Georgian squares. In addition to the working facilities, Thomas House has a library, music room, roof terrace and gymnasium. It is named after the early nineteenth-century architect Thomas Cubitt who created much of the surrounding area and also designed the eastern front of Buckingham Palace. Preserving interior geometry Fabricator IDF devised a solution featuring tailored SBD aluminium profiles from Jack Aluminium Systems, bespoke glazing, internal screens and the Alpro door management. The Alpro products include Europrofile cylinder deadlatches which can be combined with electric strikes to provide the added option of remote access control. All of The Office Group premises are design-led, and we have now supplied equipment to five of their sites including Henry Wood House" Peter Keen, sales director at Alpro, said: “Installing transom closers on internal doors is unusual but the concealed nature of these closers, within the transom header bar, means they are unobtrusive and meet the architect’s goal of preserving interior geometry.” He continued: “All of The Office Group premises are design-led, and we have now supplied equipment to five of their sites including Henry Wood House, a former BBC building in the West End. Our transom closers are durable and have been tested independently at 250,000 double-action cycles.” Commercial door market IDF specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of aluminium doors. The door projects are often in commercial and public sector environments where usage may be high but maintenance costs must be minimised. IDF has 30 years’ experience in the shop front and commercial door market. The company ensures a quality service by designing and fabricating all of its doors and shop fronts in-house with no use of sub-contractors. The client portfolio covers transport, local government, healthcare and education from schools through to universities.

Alpro secures Fred Perry headquarters with transom door closers, pole and door handles
Alpro secures Fred Perry headquarters with transom door closers, pole and door handles

IDF Aluminium installs doors and internal screenwork at the new headquarters of iconic sportswear brand Fred Perry in Clerkenwell, London. The work includes use of transom door closers, pole handles and door handles from Alpro as part of the renovation of nineteenth-century warehouse buildings into a complex of offices, showrooms, exhibition space and a rooftop deck over 24,000 square feet. The project extends across seven floors and the client gave all contractors a brief that the site should benefit from robust security but preserve a welcoming atmosphere and an aesthetic that respected the fabric of the original Victorian warehouses. Overhead transom closers Alpro’s overhead transom closers provide a means of hydraulically controlling the opening and closing of aluminium doors and can have light, medium or heavy spring strengths to suit type of usage, with a 90-degree hold-open option. Transom closers are well suited for use at industrial heritage buildings such as the Fred Perry premises since the alternative options of spring hinges and floor springs often present problems with adjustment flexibility. The IDF installation also includes Alpro’s Functional 98 Series pull door handles on internal doors. These are manufactured from 316-grade stainless steel and can be straight or offset. The handles are supplied with bolt-thru or back-to-back fixings as standard and powder or nylon-coated finishes to the user’s precise colour requirements. In this case a powder finish was chosen to match the framework. IDF Aluminium ensures a quality service by designing and fabricating all its doors and shop fronts in-house with no use of sub-contractors Quality service The Fred Perry base is located on the corner of Mount Pleasant Street and Warner Street opposite the former Mount Pleasant sorting office. The many considerations for architects BuckleyGrayYeoman included preserving an iconic façade and working round plaques commemorating damage suffered by the building during World-War-II bombing. The interior fit-out including m & e systems was by Overbury and the base build contractor was Willmott Dixon. The new space was prepared to a demanding four-month deadline. IDF Aluminium specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of aluminium doors. The door solutions are designed for use in commercial and public-sector environments where usage may be high but maintenance costs must be minimised. The company has 30 years’ experience in the shop front and commercial door market. IDF Aluminium ensures a quality service by designing and fabricating all its doors and shop fronts in-house with no use of sub-contractors. The client portfolio covers transport, local government, healthcare and education from schools through to universities. This is IDF’s second heritage architecture project using Alpro equipment and follows works at Henry Wood House, a former BBC property in Marylebone.

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