Following the terror attacks earlier in the year many UK businesses are reviewing their security measures, increasing their security budgets and looking for new and innovative ways to try and protect their staff and premises.

There are a wide range of security products available on the market from exterior perimeter security such as fencing or roadblocks, to interior speed gates or security portals, all of which offer varying levels or layers of physical security.

When choosing a physical security solution there are several areas to consider in carrying out a full assessment of your requirements.

Level of Security

The type of business or the sector your company works in will have an impact on the level of security required and what products will best meet your requirements. For a low security site where there is a constant staff presence a low glass wing speed gate may be a suitable option. At a medium security site a high glass wing speed gate, full height turnstile or entry level security portal may be more appropriate. Whereas for high security sites attack or bullet resistant security portals would be more fitting.

You also need to consider how many layers of security are required, for a low security site you may opt for a lane of speed gates to manage the flow of people on the outer layers. A medium security site may require a combination of outer layer security with additional layers of security for sensitive areas. For a high security site which may require 24/7 unmanned access, such as a data centre, several layers of security may be required combining both external solutions like fencing, roadblocks and full height turnstiles, with internal solutions such as security portals and sensor based security systems. It may also be necessary to consider metal detection to add a further level of security.

A layered security installation combining speed gates and security portals

Adding several layers of security through a combination of internal and external products will undoubtedly increase the level of security and help to make your staff feel more safe and secure. It could however also lead to slower throughput times as it will take longer to pass through the layers of security.

Different levels of security may also be required to manage access within areas or zones within a building, in which case a combination of high security (security portals) and low security (speed gates) may be appropriate.

Security portals offer a high security solution and prevent tailgating

Throughput

If you require a solution that allows the quick but secure movement of users, then a speed gate solution would enable the swift transits of users, maximising throughput whilst offering a low to medium level of security, depending what height of barrier has been selected. Most speed gates allow the transit of 30 to 40 people per minute, depending on the access control system and user behaviour. This makes speed gates ideal for reception areas where the secure flow of authorised users is required. If higher security is more critical than transit times then an access controlled security portal or interlock may be more suitable as these offer a higher level of security ensuring that unauthorised users are unable to access the building or secure area, but they will reduce the number of people able to transit per minute.

A security portal would offer the highest level of security, with only one person able to transit at any one time. However with most transits taking up to 15 seconds to complete this will result in lower levels of throughput or a requirement for multiple units. With minimal supervision a portal solution would leave security guards free to carry out other functions i.e. CCTV monitoring or walking the site.

Speed gates offer a higher level of throughput

The purpose

If the aim of the physical security solution is to act as a deterrent then you will need solutions that are imposing and deter unauthorised personnel from attempting to access the site. A combination of high fences, barriers, full height turnstiles or low level security portals would provide this.

Should the security solution be required to withstand an attack, there are a range of high security solutions you could consider. These solutions include hostile vehicle mitigation products such as bollards, roadblocks, gates, and high security rapid deploying shutters or attack/ ballistic rated security portals.

However if the aim is to create a welcoming environment then a bespoke speed gate solution would be the ideal choice, the speed gates can be designed to seamlessly blend in with the design of your office, ensuring that visitors and staff feel at ease and don’t worry about the environment they are entering. A sensor based system could be another alternative as it can integrate into the existing infrastructure with minimal visual impact, but is working in the background to detect unauthorised personnel.

Another consideration regarding the purpose of the physical security is whether it is used to securely manage the flow of people or to prevent tailgating attempts. If the aim is to securely manage the flow of people in a certain direction then a medium security solution such as a speed gate would be ideal as they allow you to manage the flow of people whilst ensuring a high throughput rate. If however your aim is to eliminate tailgating completely, then a security portal would be the best solution. The security portal uses sensor technology and pressure sensing mats to verify that only one person is inside the portal for each transit, ensuring it is not possible for an unauthorised user to gain access with an authorised user.

The budget

It goes without saying that the security budget available will have an impact of the type of security products you will be able to purchase, higher security products that are built to ballistic or attack rated standards will understandably cost more. Whereas a lane of speed gates with low glass wings will cost a lot less. So it is important to assess the different types of security products on the market to find one that meets your needs. If you have limited experience in this area then it would be a good idea to contact a physical security consultant who can advise you. Security consultants can provide you with specialist knowledge and experience in achieving security and business needs.

Full Height Turnstiles offer a high throughput solution for unmanned areas

Cost of ownership

If you are investing a significant amount of money in physical security you want to ensure that the product will last, so it is important to understand the life expectancy of the security solution. If certain key parts of the product break it is useful to know what the cost will be to replace those parts. Getting an indication of what these cost are likely to be and when they maybe incurred could prevent any nasty surprises in the future. To prolong the life expectancy of the product many manufacturers offer service agreements and will schedule visits throughout the year to maintain the product. It is also worth considering whether a critical spare package is held on site for key parts to ensure any downtime is kept to a minimum.

Compatibility with 3rd party access devices

Another important factor is whether the security solutions will integrate with your existing access control or third party devices, such as lift call. Most solutions are access control neutral and can integrate with a variety of systems with very little difficulty. However this may not always be the case so it is important to check this before, rather than finding out after the product has been installed. Poor integration with your existing 3rd party devices could result in slower throughput times and reader errors – with authorised users being rejected, or simply all users being rejected.

Seamless integration of the lift call in to a Speed Gate cabinet

Site readiness or preparations for installation.

Once you have selected the physical security solution you require, you need to assess whether the site is ready for installation or if further preparation is required to facilitate the installation. A security portal for example may have a requirement for a floor pan so the security portal can be recessed into the floor ready for the portal to be placed into. For a speed gate or turnstile installation ducting may need to be placed under the flooring to run the cabling. The product supplier will be able to advise exactly what preparations are required to ensure the site is ready for installation.

If you would like further information, please contact a member of the Meesons team today on 0870 787 7846 or enquiries@meesons.com
Considerations when choosing physical security products