Gates - Expert commentary

How schools can make outdoor learning safe and secure
How schools can make outdoor learning safe and secure

Schools were never designed and built with social distancing in mind. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that as children returned to schools, for the autumn term this year, the prospect of outdoor classes and assemblies was mooted in the media and by the Government. Many in the education sector are making the case that, should there be further COVID-19 outbreaks, in the coming months, it would be better to utilise outside space, rather than resort to closing schools. In the COVID-19 era, head teachers are considering taking learning and large gatherings, such as assemblies outdoors, when possible. Managing ‘class bubbles’, hygiene and ventilation While Dr. Yvonne Doyle, the Medical Director of Public Health England (PHE) has publicly reassured parents that schools are not the ‘drivers’ or ‘hubs’ of COVID-19-19 infection in communities, there is a lot of pressure on school leaders to manage ‘class bubbles’, extra cleaning and hygiene, ventilation, and COVID-19 testing, to protect families and staff. It’s a logical step to switch, in certain circumstances, to outdoor activities where fresh air is on tap, and social distancing is far easier to manage. Specially built outdoor classrooms Across the school and nursery sector, there’s ongoing investment in specially built outdoor classrooms Across the school and nursery sector, there’s ongoing investment in specially built outdoor classrooms, which had been growing in popularity, even before the pandemic. These facilities offer numerous benefits as an extension of existing learning spaces and provide children the opportunity for hands-on learning, beyond a stuffy classroom. However, if outdoor spaces are routinely called upon as part of COVID-19 contingency planning, how can schools ensure that their outdoor classrooms and wider areas are secure, robust, and fit for purpose? When specifying outdoor classrooms and learning spaces, it’s essential to take into account the well-being of the students and staff, who will use them, noise pollution and acoustics. Most importantly, education managers need to ensure the surrounding area is secured and adequately protected from threats, including terrorism. Perimeter security measures for schools How can schools and nurseries secure their perimeters, so that outdoor learning is totally safe for all? A starting point is to seek out architects and suppliers, who have a good understanding of security standards. Worryingly, Jacksons Fencing’s research recently found that only one-third of architects are seeing both LPS 1175 and the UK police initiative, Secured by Design (SBD) physical security standards, specified for schools. This highlights a lost opportunity for architects to propose solutions that are appropriate to the level of risk and needs of the school, without turning the site into an unwelcoming fortress. Helping schools identify specific security needs Head teachers would be wise to work with architects, who not only know the latest security standards inside and out, but are also are willing to play a more advisory role, helping the school identify exactly what is needed. Head teachers should prioritise solutions appropriate to their site’s specific risks It’s also vital that architects don’t simply replace existing fencing and gates, with the same security systems that have been in place for years. Instead, they will need to meet changing needs and risks. Our research finds that teachers often report issues, with the school perimeter and gates, from being climbed over (28%) and causing injury, to gates not locking properly (10%). Head teachers should prioritise solutions appropriate to their site’s specific risks, which sometimes require altering of existing measures. School fencing is an important aspect of any education site. As well as defining its boundary and making a visual distinction between public and private property, the fencing and gates that surround and secure a school, will typically meet a wide variety of other important criteria, including preventing unauthorised entry to the grounds, protecting pupils, staff, and visitors from accidents and injury, deterring theft and anti-social behaviour, and reducing the risk of malicious damage, and acts of terrorism. Welded mesh panels for perimeter fencing Popular options for schools include welded mesh panels for perimeter fencing or sports areas, and railing systems to act as demarcation, in order to control foot and car traffic. Within the outlying boundary, barriers, bollards and parking posts will keep pedestrians, and vehicles safe from each other, while timber fencing and gates can be designed to control the flow of people, around the grounds and reduce the areas, where students can be hidden from view. Automated gates and access control Perimeter fencing must be complemented with safe entrances and exits for vehicles and pedestrians. Every school has unique entry-control requirements, determined by factors, such as size, location and the local environment. These needs influence the decisions you make, when preparing technical specifications for school security gates. Do you require gates to be steel or timber, manual or automated, single or double leaf? Specialist suppliers will be in the best position to offer inputs on school gates, which typically need to offer solid security and durability, with a welcoming aesthetic. Specifying access control system When specifying a school access system, it’s important to consider the areas of the school When specifying a school access system, it’s important to consider the areas of the school, such as sports fields, car parks, and children’s play and learning areas, and whether it requires playground segregation. Selected gates should meet the design of the fencing, to create a secure perimeter with no weak points, with automated gates conforming to all current safety regulations. . Noise pollution can be a problem as well, including noise coming in or leaving the school in residential areas. If more teaching is to be carried out outside, it’s worth considering acoustic barriers to reduce noise in and around the school. Timber acoustic barriers for security and privacy Timber acoustic barriers offer security and privacy, and can reduce noise levels, by as much as 32 decibels (in laboratory conditions), so are ideal for city centre schools or those located close to busy highways. There are many ways to build an outdoor classroom. Timber products can help to create a welcoming environment, such as wooden shelters, pergolas, fencing, and decking. Always check that high quality timber, ideally guaranteed for 25 years against rot and insect attack, is being used to provide an attractive, cost-effective, safe and sustainable solution, for all weather conditions. DBS approved installers And of course, installers must be DBS approved, so that they can install outdoor classrooms, during school holidays, or within term time, with minimal disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on schools and learning. While nobody wants to think of fresh outbreaks of the infection, or any other virus, installing an outdoor classroom made from high-quality, long-lasting materials is a great way to future-proof school learning and ensure safety, and preparedness. Putting extra thought and care into the security angle will provide schools with decades of protection against a host of unforeseen events.

Five things Heras learned from the International Security Expo
Five things Heras learned from the International Security Expo

Heras was a premium partner exhibitor at this year’s International Security Expo (ISE) – and it’s fair to say that visitors couldn’t miss the stand, which was at the entrance of the Grand Hall at London’s Olympia. Heras’s Country Marketing Manager (UK) Rebecca Hughes pinpoints five things that the Heras team learned from the show and talking to visitors. 1) Physical still just as important as cyber Cyber(security) was the buzzword of the show – and there was lots of innovation on display. But what came across loud and clear for Heras was that physical security is still absolutely vital for UK sites of national importance, data centres, warehouses, and distribution hubs. These sites need clear demarcation, effective entrance control, and detection to make sure that perimeters aren’t breached and that only authorised personnel and visitors can enter the site and specific areas within the site. And, if there are any deviations from this, there needs to be a swift and accurate response. The rapid growth in the construction of warehouses to cope with the demand from online shopping highlights the need to secure these sites and protect the valuable stock held in them. 2) PIDSs the star of the show Heras showed PIDSs complement and increase the overall effectiveness of both existing and specified perimeter protection We piqued a lot of media interest with our ‘listening fence’, and our team enjoyed demonstrating our newly launched, next-generation perimeter intrusion detection systems (PIDSs). GeoMic was mounted on Zenith A1 (SR1) fencing, and GeoPoint was mounted on Zenith SR3 fencing. Both were demoed by the Heras team to show how PIDSs complement and greatly increase the overall effectiveness of both existing and specified perimeter protection fence and gate lines. GeoMic uses a discreet microphonic sensor cable (alpha) that listens for sounds – such as those generated from an intrusion attempt – around the entire perimeter. And the GeoPoint sensor system utilises multiple sensors that are distributed along the fence line to detect movement and vibration. 3) Fuel shortages prompt downtime conversations The ISE fell just after a weekend of panic fuel buying across the UK, after widespread media reporting of a shortage of lorry drivers for fuel tankers. This naturally led to lots of conversations with visitors about the issue of business interruption and the risks and implications if sites are compromised. We work closely with the operators of many sites of national importance, data centres, warehouses, and distribution hubs, and disruption – be it protestors blockading entrances to sites or more aggressive tactics involving breaking into sites – is not an option because the knock-on effects can be costly and potentially damaging to an organisation’s ability to operate. 4) More than fencing The issue of business interruption flowed into conversations with visitors about the range of products we offer. Put simply, everyone knows us as the ‘fencing people’ – but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Connect offers real-time insights into the status of an entrance control system, with remote monitoring of user access and alerts As Europe’s end-to-end supplier of permanent and mobile perimeter protection solutions, we delighted in telling visitors about our key areas of expertise: demarcation, entrance control, detection, integrated systems, and maintenance. For us, maintenance is the unsung hero of effective security, and we had demonstrations of Connect, our breakthrough cloud-based portal that offers real-time insights into the status of an entrance control system, with remote monitoring of user access and automatic alerts and notifications via smartphone, tablet or PC. It also enables users to open access systems via mobile phone, as well as enables Heras to provide remote and proactive monitoring of the systems. This integrates with the company’s Essential, Premium and Premium VIP maintenance support packages. 5) It’s good to meet people again The last thing we learned is just how great it is to meet people again. The UK security industry came out in force for the ISE, and it was fantastic to meet people who we’d only ever seen on a screen via Zoom or Teams. Nothing beats talking to a real person over a cup of coffee – and boy, had we missed it! As a business, the ISE was fantastic for Heras, not just in the quality of enquirers but more importantly in the connections we made with new people and in reconnecting with people we hadn’t seen for a couple of years. One last thing… Fight Club Heras's new projects include UK sites of national importance, data centres, warehouses, and distribution hubs OK, it’s not strictly the sixth thing we learned, but it reminds me of the film Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt. And that is: “The first rule of Fight Club is: you don’t talk about Fight Club.” The first rule at Heras is that we can’t talk about the vast majority of the projects and installations we get involved in because of the sensitivity around many of the sites we support – which is hard, especially at shows such as the ISE. We generally say that these have included UK sites of national importance, data centres, warehouses, and distribution hubs. But no names. This is such a shame, as one journalist said that the likes of the BBC would feature Heras much more prominently if we were able to give examples of the scope and complexity of the projects we get involved in.

The physical side of data protection
The physical side of data protection

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our digital dependency, on a global scale. Data centres have become even more critical to modern society. The processing and storage of information underpin the economy, characterised by a consistent increase in the volume of data and applications, and reliance upon the internet and IT services. Data centres classed as CNI As such, they are now classed as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and sit under the protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). As land continues to surge in value, data centre operators are often limited for choice, on where they place their sites and are increasingly forced to consider developed areas, close to other infrastructures, such as housing or industrial sites. Complex security needs One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward. However, in practice, things are far more complex. On top of protecting the external perimeter, thought must also be given to factors, such as access control, hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting power infrastructure, as well as standby generators and localising security devices to operate independently of the main data centre. Face value How a site looks is more important than you may think. Specify security that appears too hostile risks blatantly advertising that you’re protecting a valuable target, ironically making it more interesting to opportunistic intruders. The heightened security that we recommend to clients for these types of sites, include 4 m high-security fences, coils of razor wire, CCTV, and floodlighting. When used together in an integrated approach, it’s easy to see how they make the site appear hostile against its surroundings. However, it must appear secure enough to give the client peace of mind that the site is adequately protected. Getting the balance right is crucial. So, how do you balance security, acoustics and aesthetics harmoniously? Security comes first These are essential facilities and as a result, they require appropriate security investment. Cutting corners leads to a greater long-term expense and increases the likelihood of highly disruptive attacks. Checkpoints Fortunately, guidance is available through independent accreditations and certifications, such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s (LPCB) LPS 1175 ratings, the PAS 68 HVM rating, CPNI approval, and the police initiative - Secured by Design (SBD). Thorough technical evaluation and quality audit These bodies employ thorough technical evaluation work and rigorous quality audit processes to ensure products deliver proven levels of protection. With untested security measures, you will not know whether a product works until an attack occurs. Specifying products accredited by established bodies removes this concern. High maintenance Simply installing security measures and hoping for the best will not guarantee 24/7 protection. Just as you would keep computer software and hardware updated, to provide the best level of protection for the data, physical security also needs to be well-maintained, in order to ensure it is providing optimum performance. Importance of testing physical security parameters Inspecting the fence line may seem obvious and straightforward, but it needs to be done regularly. From our experience, this is something that is frequently overlooked. The research we conducted revealed that 63% of companies never test their physical security. They should check the perimeter on both sides and look for any attempted breaches. Foliage, weather conditions or topography changes can also affect security integrity. Companies should also check all fixtures and fittings, looking for damage and corrosion, and clear any litter and debris away. Accessibility When considering access control, speed gates offer an excellent solution for data centres. How quickly a gate can open and close is essential, especially when access to the site is restricted. The consequences of access control equipment failing can be extremely serious, far over a minor irritation or inconvenience. Vehicle and pedestrian barriers, especially if automated, require special attention to maintain effective security and efficiency. Volume control Data centres don’t generally make the best neighbours. The noise created from their 24-hour operation can be considerable. HVAC systems, event-triggered security and fire alarms, HV substations, and vehicle traffic can quickly become unbearable for residents. Secure and soundproof perimeter As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing So, how do you create a secure and soundproof perimeter? Fortunately, through LPS 1175 certification and CPNI approval, it is possible to combine high-security performance and up to 28dB of noise reduction capabilities. As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing. Seamlessly locking thick timber boards create a flat face, making climbing difficult and the solid boards prevent lines of sight into the facility. For extra protection, steel mesh can either be added to one side of the fence or sandwiched between the timber boards, making it extremely difficult to break through. A fair façade A high-security timber fence can be both, aesthetically pleasing and disguise its security credentials. Its pleasant natural façade provides a foil to the stern steel bars and mesh, often seen with other high-security solutions. Of course, it’s still important that fencing serves its primary purposes, so make sure you refer to certifications, to establish a product’s security and acoustic performance. Better protected The value of data cannot be overstated. A breach can have severe consequences for public safety and the economy, leading to serious national security implications. Countering varied security threats Data centres are faced with an incredibly diverse range of threats, including activism, sabotage, trespass, and terrorism on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the government has taken an active role in assisting with their protection through the medium of the CPNI and NCSC. By working with government bodies such as the CPNI and certification boards like the LPCB, specifiers can access a vault of useful knowledge and advice. This will guide them to effective and quality products that are appropriate for their specific site in question, ensuring it’s kept safe and secure.

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