University campus buildings and student accommodation facilities are complex infrastructures and, with so many security requirements, it can be difficult to keep on top of them and the challenges they impose. Andrew Shaw, architectural consultant for Allegion UK, discusses how to ensure the security and safety of the students of today and tomorrow.

Many UK universities treat safety and security as a feature hard-wired into their systems, as young adults and their parents are citing safety when it comes to important factors when choosing a university. It’s listed in prospectuses and on university websites to ensure that current and prospective students, staff and parents alike have a clear idea of the safety and security procedures in place.

Security teams must consider high-traffic areas, access for all, student turnover, fire safety measures, security of people and belongings

Eliminating the possibility of crimes

Student accommodation and campus facilities can pose many security challenges, and with the high turnover of students, keeping track of access is important. This not only allows the responsible persons to keep everything running smoothly and safely, it also helps to eliminate the possibility of certain crimes.

Security teams must consider high-traffic areas, access for all, student turnover, fire safety measures, security of people and belongings, as well as efficient and smooth people movement.

Choosing the right doors and door hardware

Every October, universities must ensure that everything – from individual student data records to premises refurbishment and site safety – is in place to welcome new and returning students, staff and visitors. This means that throughout the academic year as well as over the summer and other holidays, universities have a constant obligation to keep safety and security standards high.

It’s important to give the appropriate thought to which doors and door hardware are suitable to specific requirements, to maximise security and, in-turn, student safety and wellbeing

In student accommodation, for instance, students may be living there for approximately eight months of the academic year. They’ll then vacate the premises, which are readied for the next intake of students. Student accommodation has also been previously criticised for poor design, especially when it comes to fire safety and general security.

With that in mind, it’s important to give the appropriate thought to which doors and door hardware are suitable to specific requirements, to maximise security and, in-turn, student safety and wellbeing. In campus facilities, too, the buildings must cater to the ebb and flow of those entering and exiting premises. Therefore, doors and door hardware must facilitate access and egress, particularly in high-traffic areas.

Combining mechanical locks with electronic access control

When it comes to university accommodation, without a key handover strategy in place, how can universities be sure their students have adequate access? For example, some access control systems allow tracking of who accesses and exits a premise. They also easily issue and retract credentials, allowing someone access as easily as it can be taken away.

Conversely, traditional mechanical locks can be beneficial both as a stand-alone solution and as a combination with electronic access control. Ultimately, all design aspects of a particular building must be considered before arriving at a product choice. The variety of choice available means universities can opt for hardware that suits their needs, even when faced with budgeting pressures.

Every university campus has both exterior and interior sections, so implementing an adequate lockdown plan must include both of these layers

Implementing effective lockdown strategy

The Complete University Guide states that an estimated one-third of the UK’s student body becomes a victim of crime (mainly theft and burglary). When you also consider the vast number of new students moving away from home to university, it’s easy to understand how their lack of knowledge about a certain area may make them susceptible to victimisation.

One focus for optimising security in university facilities and accommodation is to put in place an effective lockdown strategy. Every university campus has both exterior and interior sections, so implementing an adequate lockdown plan must include both of these layers.

On top of this, it can be easy to make the mistake of carrying out dangerous or ineffective methods without recognising them as so. For example, using tape, magnets or other barricades on a door could not only invite security risks but is also a breach of fire safety regulations.

Doors and door hardware that facilitate maximum egress can help to improve evacuation and prevent unnecessary stagnation of movement

Fire safety protocols

A sufficient evacuation plan as well as high-quality doors and door hardware can help to keep students and staff safe. In the event of a fire, students and staff must be clear on what is expected of them to ensure a smooth and effective evacuation.

Doors and door hardware that facilitate maximum egress can help to improve evacuation and prevent unnecessary stagnation of movement. Specifically, hold-open devices are linked up to the fire alarm so that in the event of a fire, the doors release immediately and then return to a closed position. Similarly, exit devices (such as panic bars or emergency exit devices) open without keys and are easily accessible, to allow a functional exit if needed.

Selecting the right solution for university security

When it comes to university security, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The age of the buildings, credential platform and protocols, budget and long-term security strategy must be considered.

A lack of product knowledge, older buildings and too much choice can all lead to a reluctance to upgrade old systems or even the wrong selection of products. With effective lockdowns and locking systems being of high importance, it’s important to recognise the industry fallacies and steer clear from the risks posed by ‘value engineering’. Wherever you are on the continuum, there are solutions fit for your specific requirements.

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Virtual worlds disrupt building security & facility management
Virtual worlds disrupt building security & facility management

From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations? A brief history of 3D technology Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modelling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialisation, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption. Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge.  Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time. What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks. The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organisations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts."   Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software What does this mean for the security or facility manager today? An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. 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Example benefit of reality capture First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans A simple 360° walk-through can help first responders with incident preparedness if shared by the facility manager. Police, fire and EMS can visually walk the building, locating all critical features they will need knowledge of in an emergency without ever visiting the building. You don’t require construction accuracy for this type of visual sharing. This is a solution and service we offer as a company today. Reality capture is rapidly becoming the benchmark for facility documentation and the basis from which a security plan can be built. Given the appropriate software, plans can be easily updated and shared.  They can be used for design and implementation of equipment, training of personnel and virtual audits of systems or security assessments by outside professionals. Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text. Not only that, we are much more likely to remember it once we do see it. Reality capture can help reduce the need for physical inspections, walk-throughs and vendor site-visits but more importantly, it provides a way to visually communicate far more effectively and accurately than before. But be careful with this information. You must prevent critical information falling into the hands of bad actors. You must watch out for bad actors attempting to use reality capture as a threat, especially photo/video/drones or digital information and plans that are posted publicly. Have a security protocol to prevent and confront individuals taking photos or video on property or flying suspect drones near your facility and report to the authorities. 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UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties. Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important. Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualisation of facilities is well worth the time. It can help better secure your facilities while increasing efficiencies of building operations. Reality capture can also help collaboration with first responders and outside professionals without ever having to step a foot in the door. But secure your data and have a plan for bad actors who will try to use the same technologies for nefarious goals.

Intellectual honesty: the growth of Cobalt Robotics and robots in security
Intellectual honesty: the growth of Cobalt Robotics and robots in security

The best route to greater adoption of robotics in the field of physical security is intellectual honesty, says Travis Deyle, CEO and co-founder of Cobalt Robotics. “Robots are not a panacea, so we must be clear and honest about capabilities and use cases,” he says. “If you are dishonest, people will lose faith. We must have clear expectations about what’s feasible today and possible tomorrow.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies. “The tone has changed at recent security events,” says Deyle. “Previously, robots were thought of as a science experiment. But now, there are big-name users wanting to discuss proof of concept. It has evolved from being a novelty to now it’s time to give it a serious look. They want us to help them sell the concept up the chain of command. It’s helpful to have conversations with other parts of the company because it has an impact on the culture of the company.” The robotics tide is turning in the security market, which is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies Cobalt’s robots are purpose-built for a specific use case: providing after-hours support and security for corporate locations. Indoor environments, confined and controlled, present fewer navigation challenges for robots, which can quickly become familiar with the surroundings and navigate easily through an office space. Indoor robots can provide benefits beyond security, too, such as facility management, promoting employee health and safety, and emergency response. Cobalt's human-centred design Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people. They are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure. The human-centered design promotes that interaction, and a real person (located remotely) can enter into any interaction instantly as needed. “We combine machines with people,” says Deyle. “We allow the machine to do what it does best, such as dull and boring activities, and add the flexibility and cultural relevancy of having a person there.” Cobalt’s robots also interact well with people, they are friendly and approachable and make employees feel safe and secure When a robot is deployed, it performs a brief mapping phase (about an hour), in which it moves around and builds up a “map” of its space and develops its patrol route. Over time, it lingers more in areas where it encounters more incidents. 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Which segments are under-served in the physical security industry?
Which segments are under-served in the physical security industry?

Physical security technologies operate successfully in many different markets, but in which markets do they fall short? Physical security is a difficult challenge that can sometime defy the best efforts of manufacturers, integrators and end users. This is especially the case in some of the more problematic markets and applications where even the best technology has to offer may not be good enough, or could it be that the best technology has not been adequately applied? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to reflect on instances when the industry may fall short: Which segments of the physical security industry are most under-served and why?