students sitting in lecture theatre

Don’t learn the hard way – How turnstiles can help secure educational environments

Gun related deaths are the third leading cause of death for American children aged 1 to 17 [1] and, in May 2018, it was reported by CNN that there had been, on average, one school shooting every week in the first five months of the year in the United States [2]. This might seem a shocking opening paragraph, but it’s something which needs to stop.

In the article below, we will cover:

  • The latest trends and how they have driven our most recent product integration for the education sector
  • Essential considerations when specifying entrance control for educational environments
  • Case studies demonstrating our capabilities in designing solutions for this sector
  • The added value entrance control can offer education officials

If you’d prefer to watch a short video, click below…

“At ISC West in Las Vegas in April, we noticed an increased number of attendees representing colleges and schools requesting information about how physical security solutions can help tackle gun crime,” comments Tony Smith, Major Account and Marketing Manager at Integrated Design Limited. “America might have a unique relationship to gun ownership, but educational institutions – wherever they are in the world – all have a common commitment to providing a secure and safe environment for students to learn and staff to teach. Over recent years, we’ve noticed that security has been rising up the agenda for schools and colleges all over the world due to various increasing and constantly evolving threats, not just gun crime. This year it has become even more apparent that better physical security solutions are being sought out for use in places of learning.”

In response to the trend noticed at ISC West, at IFSEC in June IDL demonstrated a new solution with weapons detection specifically in mind – the Glassgate 200 with an integrated Garrett weapons detection arch. This solution acts as both a visual deterrent and a physical barrier to intruders carrying weapons, for use at universities, colleges and schools, as well as healthcare facilities and churches.

“Although this integration was driven by a trend first noticed in the US, in the UK we have a similar problem with knife crime – it was recently reported by the BBC that across the UK last year, knife crime rose by 22% [3]. This solution is designed for general weapons detection, not just to detect firearms,” continues Tony. “The integration is set up in ‘airport mode’ so it provides a similar level of security to what you’d expect when you pass through a terminal. Some might suggest that there are already many proprietary products on the market which will detect weapons, but what we were demonstrating was that by integrating our turnstiles you can automate the process of physically preventing people from coming in who you suspect might be carrying a weapon. You don’t have to rely on the security guard running after a suspect, and they don’t need to stand immediately next to the arch or entrance gate, reducing the risk to security personnel too.”

At both ISC West and IFSEC, we were asked lots of questions about how turnstiles can be used to protect university campuses, colleges and schools, so we thought we’d share some of the essential considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing a physical security system for your educational environment.

Create an environment conducive to learning

Students, staff and visitors don’t want to feel like they’re entering a high security prison when they arrive on campus. When people enter a learning environment, whether as an everyday user or a visitor, their main concern should be on the day’s activities, not the process of gaining access to the building itself. Key to designing an entrance control solution for this kind of environment is maintaining an open and welcoming feel, allowing a free flow of authorised pedestrian traffic, whilst simultaneously providing a high level of security.

“Users of successful entrance control systems should rest assured that a potential intruder will be stopped from entering, without experiencing any frustration that their own free movement is hindered,” comments Tony. “There has to be little or no delay between an authorised person presenting their credentials at the turnstile and access being granted. All Fastlane products are designed with the latest optical technology, enabling optimum throughput of authorised users with minimum intrusion into their daily lives.”

Behind the beautiful exterior of the Fastlane range, the infrared matrix that drives the decision to authorise entry makes thousands of calculations per second based on luggage being carried or pulled, tailgating, unauthorised passages and much more. This intelligent technology is capable of processing up to 60 people per minute, one at a time, meaning that users don’t feel that their lives are being inconvenienced or disrupted by security.

Tony continues: “Aesthetics need not be compromised either. Working closely with architects over the past 30 years, we understand the importance of great design and even our standard units are developed with elegance in mind, to ensure that they complement the environments they are protecting and don’t create a hostile, ‘fortress-like’ environment for those that use it on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a turnstile that is unique and blends seamlessly into your environment, we also offer bespoke finishes.”

Heightening your entrance control shouldn’t damage your school’s reputation

“Some security and facilities managers we’ve spoken to express concerns that by increasing security measures parents will be worried that their children are attending an unsafe school,” comments Tony. “If the solution is designed correctly and you can get the first point right – balancing security with user experience – parents shouldn’t feel concerned and instead should be assured that the school is doing everything they can to better protect their students, staff and visitors.”

Turnstiles can be integrated with other technologies to provide 24/7 security

University campuses are in use 24 hours a day, whether that’s with students studying late at night in the library before finals or arriving back at their accommodation after an evening out. With students having flexible schedules, it is vital that an entrance control system allows ease of access at any time of day, whilst continuing to provide a safe environment, with security managers confident that it isn’t going to fail when there are limited security staff on-site.

Fastlane turnstiles can be integrated seamlessly with every known access control system and CCTV, to provide surveillance of turnstile use and allow an ‘eyes-on’ response to be deployed to any security events.

“Our turnstiles alarm when forced entries are attempted or abnormal traffic flow is detected, flagging up any entry procedures which aren’t being complied with and alerting security personnel to a potential intruder,” said Tony. “If integrated with an access control and CCTV system – or our FastCam app – in the event of a breach, the cameras will capture images of the situation, which can be reviewed by security personnel remotely to identify the people involved. Once detected, the individual causing the alarm can be identified as friend causing an accidental breach, or foe, at which point the appropriate response can be deployed.”

Multiple sites can be monitored and controlled remotely

Fastlane Plus 400MA entrance control security turnstiles in situ at Cleveland State university student accomodation

Turnstiles can be used throughout a site to monitor and protect different areas, for example student residences, dining facilities and libraries – wherever you need to only allow access to authorised individuals.

To provide a secure environment for student residents and reassure parents of their safety, Cleveland State University (CSU) installed Fastlane Plus lanes to control access to Euclid Commons, apartment-style accommodation which would house over 600 students in four buildings. You can read the case study here.

 

Fastlane Turnstiles at university of Notre DameAnother recent project involved supplying Fastlane Glassgate 150s – with custom monograms screen-printed on the glass gates – to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, so they are able to manage student access to the dining facility.

Fastlane turnstiles have also been installed to secure the University of Birmingham’s main library. As well as ensuring that only authorised library users are granted access, the customised Fastlane Glasswing lanes with integrated card readers and the purpose-built Telepen control panel, also allows other useful data to be captured to help with administration in terms of staff planning and management of flow of library users during peak times. You can read the full case study here.

The above case studies are for different educational institutions but, if you wanted to install turnstiles at various locations around the same campus, you can remotely monitor and control them all using our new FastCmd app from one location. The newest addition to the Fastlane Connect suite of apps, FastCmd (Fast Command) allows authorised users to control and monitor up to 63 lanes of Fastlane turnstiles from a convenient Windows PC or Tablet, when connected to the same network.

The benefits don’t stop at security – the added value of entrance control

Protecting people and assets may be the primary objective of an entrance control system, but there are many other added benefits to consider. CCTV, intruder alarms, fire detection and business management systems can all be integrated, allowing school officials to monitor attendance, manage visitor access, reduce energy usage in unused areas at off-peak times, analyse data about how and when facilities are used, and much more.

It’s clear that when looking to secure an educational environment, whether that’s a school, university or college, there are various considerations and each educational facility has its own set of nuances. We hope we’ve helped to answer some of your questions and equipped you with the knowledge you need to make informed choices throughout the purchasing, installation and operation of entrance control systems.

If you’d like more information, our team has experience of designing entrance control systems for university libraries, canteens, student residences and more, and are happy to discuss the unique challenges of securing your environment. You can get in touch with them on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email info@fastlane-turnstiles.com.

 

In other news:

 

[1] Source: Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, Gutierrez C, Bacon S. Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States, Paediatrics. 2017; 140(1).

[2] Source: CNN, 25 May 2018, https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/02/us/school-shootings-2018-list-trnd/index.html

[3] BBC News 17th July 2018