How Physical Security Systems Can Protect the ‘Everyday’

Simon Cook

Simon Cook

The success of any organisation or environment depends on its ability to support the healthy flow of people, products, information and ideas, writes Simon Cook. This is apparent in our daily lives when a minor disruption makes our everyday activities more difficult (or even impossible). For their part, security operators play an absolutely vital role in either wholly preventing or mitigating the impact of incidents and unplanned events that can cause severe disruptions.

What if we could also help improve the way in which people interact with their environments by dint of using security systems in clever ways? In fact, many organisations are already doing this. We’re now seeing a wide variety of businesses using their physical security systems to improve experiences by facilitating and improving flow through their environments. Let’s look at some examples.

The NEC complex in Birmingham

The NEC complex in Birmingham

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham is the UK’s largest exhibition venue, hosting more than 140 trade shows and consumer events each year and welcoming over two million visitors on an annual basis. To keep this many people happy and moving, the NEC’s management team uses its Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system for more than just traffic management.

In addition to setting the system to alert the security team when someone hasn’t paid for their parking, or a wanted vehicle has been identified on site, the NEC’s dedicated security staff also use the ANPR solution to monitor shuttle bus frequency and grant access to pre-booked express parking areas. This reduces the time attendees spend in queues waiting to park and provides the NEC’s management with a better understanding of how many people are in need of shuttle rides to their facilities.

While visitors might not notice how easily they flow both through the parking areas and to the exhibition halls, their visit is certainly improved by not having to wait around.

Home of English Rugby

Twickenham Stadium in South West London is another large facility where the management team uses its physical security system to ease people flow and enhance the visitor experience.

The largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world, and the second largest stadium in the UK, Twickenham seats no less than 82,500 people and hosts all of England’s home test rugby matches, as well as many other high-profile rugby events and concerts for renowned international artists.

Regardless of what the stadium’s being used for, that’s a lot of people to move safely through the space.

Twickenham upgraded its security and operations systems when bidding to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup by unifying 110 video surveillance cameras, IP-operated doors and ANPR technology within one intuitive solution. On match days, security operators work from two different Control Rooms to ensure everything goes smoothly.

A specific tool within the VMS solution, programmed specifically for match-day activity, allows operators to monitor the crowded stadium and respond to events. Beyond securing the venue, operators also monitor crowd flow through the stadium and identify any operational issues such as long queues or required clean-ups.

Improving public access

It’s not just exhibition and convention centres and stadiums that work to provide visitors with a positive experience. Local Government officials are also focused on supporting open interactions as they keep people and information secure. Indeed, Manchester City Council is a good example of a municipal Government that successfully balances protection and accessibility.

Overseeing the UK’s second most populated urban area, Manchester City Council provides services to residents from three buildings. In addition to being open to the public, these buildings play host to Government staff and officials as well as sensitive information and historical documents. As a result, the buildings have some restricted areas.

Rather than have multiple reception areas that block the public, Manchester City Council uses its physical security system to grant access to different areas. With a solution made up of access-controlled doors and visitor ID cards, they can pre-establish where individuals are allowed to go based on factors including need and authorisation.

This means that, for example, when anyone is invited to a meeting, they’re given instructions on how to obtain their card. At the same time, that individual’s specific access information is sent to the security system, stating where they can and cannot go in the three buildings.

Upon arrival, each individual simply punches their unique ID into the visitor management kiosk and is issued a card with the prescribed access privileges. In this way, MCC is able to keep restricted areas secure while providing residents with access to the people and services they need.

By focusing on the healthy flow of people, products, information and ideas, institutions and organisations can provide better experiences and greater accessibility to the public. Ultimately, this means that security can go far deeper than simply ensuring safety.

Simon Cook is Sales Engineering Manager (EMEA and APAC) at Genetec

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI Editor, Risk UK Pro-Activ Publications

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