Automated access and parking for office buildings

November 2006 Access Control & Identity Management

Expanding business opportunities create a need to provide secure facilities and safeguard people and property.

From the most heavily trafficked facilities to the loneliest, out-of-the-way places, the need is to install an access control system that is technically advanced, dependable and easy to operate. Security and parking is a major concern for the administrators of office buildings as the application poses specific and unique problems in the design of the system.

Types of office buildings

The distinction between single- and multitenant buildings is a critical one when it comes to access control. The number of tenants on a building can be a major factor in the level of sophistication required for its access control system

Large multitenant buildings

Larger, more sophisticated tenants in high traffic buildings inevitably require some type of automated control system.

In large multitenant buildings it is important to tenants that individual comings and going be monitored. In addition, they may have to use a photo ID and access card to enter the building and to access any floor by elevator.

Smaller single-tenant buildings

Even in smaller buildings where after-hours access is sometimes deemed not to be necessary, an access control system can provide additional security and reduce operating costs by lessening the workload of security personnel.

Designing the system

Designing an automated access control system requires an investigation phase before the design work can begin, in which the following points should be addressed:

1. Who will be using the system?

2. Will a single organisation control the system?

3. If only a single building is to be controlled, does a single tenant group occupy it or will multiple firms or groups occupy the building? If unrelated groups occupy the building, will building management accept the responsibility of maintaining the system and distributing the cards?

4. How large a population will there be?

5. What level of security is to be provided?

6. Will the system control access to interior office suites?

7. Is more than one building being controlled? (The additional building may be a parking garage or it may be several buildings in the same complex or at different sites.)

Facility executives who will be in charge of effective access control should be involved from early on in the design process to ensure careful architectural planning of vehicles and pedestrian entrances to the buildings and interior spaces.

Building lobbies are often designed without access control in mind. As a result, there may be several entrances to the building, each one requiring separate access control equipment. The same is true for upper floors accessed by elevators within the building.

After installation, keeping access control up to date ranks high on property managers' priority lists. Access control as a component of a security programme is generally put into place because it is simply not feasible to lock all doors at all times.

Challenges

These are some of the challenges faced in the design of an automated parking and access control system for office buildings:

Several organisations under one roof: office buildings usually have several organisations occupying various areas of the building. Organisations could set up their office on an entire floor, an entire wing or any other part of the building. Access of employees thus has to be controlled at two levels - access to the area of the building where an employee's office is located, and within the office premises itself.

Similarly, access to the parking area may also need to be controlled keeping the various organisations in mind. The parking lot may have to be divided into several reserved lots, thus increasing the overall complexity of the entire parking and access control system.

Remote stations: often some points of access control are so far from the central lobby, especially in skyscrapers, that interconnecting that station to the central system for data updates is a challenge. Many different places are using wireless modems to accomplish this objective.

Other services: an office building may also house restaurants, stores, games, recreational activities and more. Since the same access card can be used to procure such services, it is essential that the potential abuse be monitored.

Access requirements

Tenants of office buildings need to be given access to various areas of the building at various times, depending on their job and position. If the building is occupied by different organisations, employees have to have access to the right floors and rooms of the building.

Besides the full-time employees, the system also has to account for part-time employees, maintenance staff, delivery people etc. For example, maintenance staff such as cleaners need access to all the rooms at certain times of the day, while other maintenance personnel may need access only to the HVAC floor.

All of these requirements can be met by issuing access cards to the permanent staff, which can then also serve as their parking cards. If an employee leaves the company, the administration staff can void the cards.

Visitor access can be controlled by telephone entry systems, from which tenants are able to control entry to the building through the phone line. The system can provide three levels of security. It can control visitor access after hours; control access throughout the day, with tenants punching in codes to gain access; and admitting visitors once inside by taking calls from the system.

Parking requirements

Tenants who need to use the parking facilities of the office building can be assigned a parking card, which can be used to enter and exit the parking lot. Certain areas of the parking lot can be reserved for the tenants. The same card can allow them to enter any of the controlled perimeter doors, and can be voided if the employee leaves the company.

Visitors to office buildings typically need to use the parking facility for a few hours and do not need reserved parking spaces. The building management can also earn money for the upkeep and maintenance of the building through this category of users.

From the Office Buildings Handbook - How to Design Automated Access & Parking Systems for Office Buildings, www.amtel-security.com





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