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Greater access regulation will become a new normal after coronavirus

Greater access regulation will become a new normal after coronavirus
Greater regulation of access to public and private buildings and visitor hot spots may figure among major impacts from the coronavirus affecting architects, builders, facility managers and site owners.
Greater regulation of access to public and private buildings and visitor hot spots may figure among major impacts from the coronavirus affecting architects, builders, facility managers and site owners. 

“Certainly, there will be a new normal for people-intensive public and private facilities, where owners have a duty of care to protect staff and visitors,” says security and entrance specialist, Boon Edam Australia Managing Director Michael Fisher.

The likely changes – including to Government-funded Covid recovery infrastructure spending in Australia and New Zealand – will be particularly relevant also to facilities such as hospitals, health care, schools, hotels, restaurants, tourism facilities and landmark structures and community and cultural assets.

Accelerated safety and sustainability access control trends

“Coronavirus may well accelerate changes that were already underway to promote greater safety and sustainability within our urban infrastructure. Such changes will be driven not only by the need to protect against health-related risks, but also in some cases to exclude threats such as urban pollution and to counter the rising incidence of physical violence against providers of public services.”

“They are also highly relevant to and holders of valuable physical and electronic assets, including data and commercial information,” says Mr. Fisher, whose parent Boon Edam organisation is a global manufacturer of energy-saving revolving doors and security entrances in 27 countries, including global names in data management and internet services.

The 140-year-old family owned company’s top quality entrance control products are used by dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as social infrastructure, transport terminals, public and private spaces where there are risks ranging from extreme physical intrusions – such as terrorism , violence and theft – to more subtle but sinister threats such as airborne pollution and infected carriers of contagious disease.

Security technologies working in harmony

Mr Fisher says new technology – including facial and retinal recognition where required – can be built into layered entrance and internal access plans to lessen the cost of manned security and provide 24-hour coverage in areas where it is not always available from manned positions.

“Manned and electronic security are complementary parts of the same equation,” says Mr. Fisher. “One can do a vital job in one area, while the other can actually save money by reducing the need for manned posts in other areas.”

“The sheer volume of people whose access will be needed to be regulated in the future in the interests of health and security means that access technologies will need to be designed into our facilities, either from new or retrofitted.”

Mr Fisher says the factors that are causing an upswing in demand for revolving doors and security entrances – as part of much wider public health planning – are not going to go away. These encompass a wide range of growing issues as more people occupy smaller spaces in dense urban environments. They range from regulation of health threats presented by infected people, through to broader health and sustainability factors affecting entire buildings, including exclusion of pollution and conservation of energy used in building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), which Australia’s CSIRO says HVAC account for between 40–50 percent of a commercial building’s energy use and contributes 34.7 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

Multiple benefits

Designers have long been aware of the energy conservation, sustainability, and healthier building interior benefits of revolving doors, with their “always open, always closed” functionality limiting HVAC losses and excluding airborne pollutants. This is because revolving doors function beautifully as airlocks, which allow smooth pedestrian flow while keeping expensive cool air inside on warmer days, reducing air conditioning costs. In cooler times, they keep cold air out, thereby reducing heating costs. And their built-in ability to exclude airborne pollutants at all times is expanding still further under the impact of long-term and seasonal threats, such as pollution generally and bushfire in particular. 
Also, the threat of contagion from people carrying infections can only increase, as more people are concentrated into smaller spaces at work and in public facilities. The space per employee, for example, has been shrinking for decades, and is now down to typically 8-12 sqm a person.

“Virus infections are a fact of life long-term. Infectious diseases have been with us from the beginning of time, as people intermingled ever more extensively. You often hear doctors advising people to stay indoors during times of high pollution or weather that stirs up allergens, which is good advice. And you also need to keep the interior space healthy and sustainable. So public health officials are also acutely aware of the need to regulate people you do admit to public and private facilities during times of pandemic, which is a process that starts at the front entrance."

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