Securing the exterior and interior entries of a single building, or set of buildings, is one of the more difficult tasks facing facility managers (fms). Criminals, from thieves to vandals to active shooters, can walk into many facilities through unlocked front doors, loading bays, or employee entrances. Once inside, there is often nothing more to stop them from entering cash or computer rooms, executive offices, and equipment storage areas. Success comes with controlling access.
Using video as part of an access control system provides an additional layer of security inside facilities of all sizes and types.
An fm can make a serious impact on keeping people out of areas where they don’t belong by simply locking doors in a way that will not interfere with normal operations. But during the day, some people may need to enter those locked doors, and that is where video intercoms can play a role. These types of intercoms act as a facility’s “video doorbell,” alerting staff that someone wants to enter the building or a critical internal operational area. Sitting behind a locked door, a receptionist or other staff member can view and talk with a visitor before pushing a button to unlock the door remotely. If there’s any doubt about the visitor’s intentions, the door can remained locked.
A typical video intercom consists of a vandal-resistant door station that is surface mounted just outside the entry. Most include a color camera, call button, and a speaker and microphone for communication. Some are available with pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) cameras that allow the lens to move for viewing a person and zoom out to see groups of people at the door.
These door units are connected to a master monitoring station that sits on a desk or are mounted on the other side of the locked door. Some master stations use network adaptors to connect up to 10 PCs over a wireless network. A computer can act as a network video recorder to log all door station video and audio data. The station can also send e-mail alerts when a visitor pushes the call button on a door unit. This can be helpful if the receptionist has stepped away for a few minutes; the network setup can also allow other authorized employees to identify and grant access to visitors.
Video intercoms can also use a network to integrate with a facility’s other security and life safety systems. For example, a PC can notify employees of events such as a fire, triggered security alarm, or motion detection. So how can fms use this access control approach in their daily operations?
- Master station inputs can control secondary devices such as gates, which is useful for monitoring access to facility parking lots and garages.
- Some smaller, high-end retailers, such as jewelers and art dealers, may allow a limited number of customers in their stores.
- Larger retailers may require several open doors throughout the day. But that doesn’t mean shoppers should have access to employee lounges, stockrooms, loading docks, and other controlled entrances. A video intercom can help ensure that doesn’t happen.
- Hospitals and medical centers use video intercoms to keep criminals and the general public out of nurseries, pharmacies, quarantined areas, and equipment storage rooms.
- K-12 schools are locking all doors and putting video intercoms on one public entry to monitor who enters the campus when children are present.
- Colleges and universities are installing video intercoms at entries to laboratories, specialty libraries, athletic facilities, and residential buildings.
- Government fms find video intercoms provide an extra layer of security beyond keypads and card keys at critical access points to embassies, airport tarmacs, arms storage facilities, jails, and judges chambers.
- Managers of large commercial office buildings can provide tenants with video intercoms.
- Managers of almost any size facility can use video intercoms to help protect executive offices and help deter hostile current or former employees from attempting to enter the facility.
- Larger multi-location facilities can use the network to let a single person and station determine access for all buildings.
In leased and owned Class A, B, or even C buildings, the primary function of private security officers is to gather information, control access to and maintain order on the property where they are contracted as well as, and most importantly, protect people, property and assets against any type of hazard that may affect the facility. Specifically, these security services could entail enforcement of policies and procedures of security, access, and asset control as well as employee safety. They could provide a secure workplace environment, protect assets and technology of companies, respond to on-site incidents, and report unsafe or threatening security conditions.