4 ‘Gotchas’ That Could Derail Your Front Entrance Security Upgrades

Be certain to consider throughput, training, service and safety before installing any solutions.

We’ve installed thousands of campus entry solutions, talked to end users all over the world and have developed a comprehensive process for choosing the right security entrance. That said, no process is perfect, and we’ve come to observe that certain organizations will consider some of the decision criteria quite well but leave out one or two factors. We call these the “Gotchas,” and when forgetting or ignoring any one of the criteria, you can end up with a security entrance that doesn’t address the needs of your organization.

We divide the entrance solution decision-making process into two parts: before installation and after. Before Installation, purchase decisions are often weighted towards security, aesthetics and return on investment (ROI). After installation, however, and once there is no going back, throughput, training, service and safety play a more prominent role.

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While initially aesthetics or security usually jump out as paramount, all seven decision factors contribute to an effective security solution. For most decisions, the criteria before installation are relatively prominent and well understood. Where the “Gotchas” rear their less-than-pleasant heads is in the pesky factors that often don’t occur to the decision-makers until the new security entrance has been installed.

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After installation, it is crucial to incorporate each of the following criteria into a comprehensive decision-making process so that you’ll select the right solution for your campus.

1. Throughput (how quickly authorized individuals can enter your facility) affects users directly on a daily basis and is critical to user acceptance of a new security entrance. Before you commit to a particular kind of entrance solution, carefully and manually calculate the throughput requirements for your entrances, ideally during a 5-minute rush hour period. Note deliveries and wheelchairs. Don’t rely solely on access control numbers if you have swinging doors, as multiple tailgaters could enter on a single authorization and reduce the count. Once you have the counts, research security entrances’ throughput specs. It’s also worthwhile to inquire if a solution allows for card stacking, which is explained in the following example:

Example: A Houston-based company installed an array of optical turnstiles in their regional headquarters lobby. Unfortunately, they did not research throughput numbers, and the turnstiles they installed required each user to badge in, walk through the turnstile, and then for the turnstile barrier to reclose before the next user. During peak times, lines would form. Eventually, the company decided to replace the turnstiles in favor of a model that allowed multiple registrations with access control (card stacking) prior to entering and also kept its barriers open as long as all of the users were authorized. The difference was an increase in throughput from 22 to 60 people per minute per lane-and that made all the difference. 

RELATED: Hofstra Univ. Moves to Turnstile Entrances to Upgrade Access Control

2. Training usually isn’t considered a major factor when choosing an entry product, yet it is key to long term success and customer satisfaction. Since most manufacturers do not directly install their products, they should provide a comprehensive technical training program and some form of certification to create successful service providers for end users.

Example: A financial services company purchased an array of high security portals to protect a sensitive area for records and data. A few months after installation, which had been supervised by the manufacturer, one of the portals required service because it was rejecting authorized users. When a technician from the local distributor arrived he took one look at the portal and said, “I’ve never seen one of these before.” He then spent hours on the phone with the manufacturer to receive on-the-fly training. Clearly, there was a training disconnect between the manufacturer and the distributor.

3. Service considerations typically come last or not at all when making a buying decision. Yet, during and after installation, the level of service directly impacts continued operations and ROI.

Example: A Philadelphia office tower installed two optical turnstiles in their main lobby that matched the building’s aesthetics beautifully. After a few years, one of the turnstiles stopped working and a part had to be ordered from Europe – downtime was estimated at four weeks. With only two opticals in their lobby, having one out of service was unacceptable and the owner immediately began looking into replacing the turnstiles. Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh hospital had a security door that was out of service. Management was shocked to find out that the nearest authorized service provider was over eight hours away – gotcha! 

Consider the negative impact of a delayed installation or service visit, or delayed parts availability on your building entrance procedures – all because service was left out of the decision-making process.

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