Gate Automation: driving up value

Access control is a proven, reliable and well understood solution. For many users, it is an essential part of the overall security at a site. However, access control plays many roles alongside that of keeping people out of private areas. Its added value comes even more to the fore when vehicular access control is considered. Benchmark looks at the benefits of including gate automation.

It is very true to say that no one element of a system can be attributed to the overall success of a solution. Whilst certain technologies seem to have a higher profile with those seeking protection, the reality is that any vulnerability can – and will – be exploited. Unless all aspects of risk are addressed, the chances of a solution achieving its goals are slim.

Video surveillance has become something of a star player when it comes to protecting premises, and for good reason. The technology is flexible, efficient and increasingly represents a cost-effective option. The degree of processing and management inherent in today’s systems means that the data captured can be used for a wide range of tasks including – but not limited to – security, safety, site management, traffic control, marketing, sales support, etc..

Despite its capabilities, it must be said that video surveillance is not the be-all and end-all. An example of this comes from a remote industrial estate in the South East of England.

The site was home to a number of technology companies, and all buildings were equipped with good quality intruder detection systems. Despite this, they were often targeted by thieves, as the remote location meant the criminals had a good chance of hitting a building and making good their escape before the local police had a chance to attend an alarm activation.

The management at the estate took a proactive stance, and installed video surveillance across the site. The sporadic attacks continued, albeit with criminals disguising themselves and their vehicles before carrying out any crimes. Next physical security was added to the buildings, but this simply resulted in the criminals using heavier tools (and causing more damage).

Although every element introduced had increased security, the solution wasn’t complete. After analysing the attacks, it was decided to fit vehicular access control in the form of gate automation. Almost immediately, the attacks stopped.

A barrier to crime

What occurred at this industrial site was not uncommon. The remote nature of the site had been a benefit for the criminals. They could go about their crimes unseen, and even those passing the site would have no idea anything was happening. The thieves could drive up to the buildings, away from prying eyes, and then had a window of opportunity whereby they could fill their vehicles with assets and leave before the police had a reasonable chance to respond.

By preventing access by vehicles with gate automation, the management made it more difficult for thieves to reach the site or to carry away the proceeds of a burglary. Vehicles would have to be left on the public road, thus attracting attention. Additionally, the delay this caused to the criminals meant that the police had an opportunity to respond, and this made the risk-to-gain ratio unfavourable for the criminals.

The vehicular access control was an essential element in the solution, and once in place it allowed the other elements to function in a more effective way, as the ability for criminals to enter and leave quickly was removed. Whilst such a solution – and its effect – would be more than enough for most site management teams, the installation generated a number of other benefits.

Previously, the site had occasional problems with fly-tipping and thefts from staff vehicles. These were eliminated by the vehicular access control. There was also an issue that roads within the estate were used by a variety of unauthorised users. Local driving schools often took pupils there to practice manoeuvres, and at night local youths used them for racing and other activities. Again, such incidents were eliminated.

Finally, the vehicular access system allowed the management team to better control traffic movements on the site, which in turn added value for those leasing units.

Whilst this is just one example of how vehicular access control can be used, it does underline the importance of ensuring that all aspects of an overall solution are considered.

Diverse options

The market for vehicular access control covers numerous devices including barriers, blockers (or rising kerbs), gates and bollards. The solutions range from those designed to control traffic flow, through to devices which can stop vehicles dead in their tracks where a threat of vehicular-borne terrorist attacks might exist.

Increasingly, automated access control measures can also add business benefits. For example, a small ANPR system could be implemented, allowing vehicles registered with the company in question to access a site with ease, no matter whether it is manned or not. Parking can be managed, and for some this could even become a revenue generating part of an overall system. There is even the option to link vehicles with specific users, or even assets.

The growth in video analytics also permits a wide range of triggers to open or close gates and barriers. With the right IVA system, the size of vehicle could be used to decide which parking area should be used. Gates could be closed if vehicles on site are driving at excessive speeds. Counts could prevent vehicles from entering areas with no parking spaces or where there is congestion.

Adding gate automation, barriers, rising bollards or other devices can add value for end users and introduces an element of the system which they interact with regularly, and which delivers positives for their business.

A wide choice

Gate automation can be implemented at a very wide variety of sites. At the lower end of the market are products that satisfy the basic needs for parking management. Most are easy to install and have only basic civil work requirements, with a simple method of control.

Whilst such devices are not suitable for risk-related applications, there are mid-market systems which are more robust. While these do require a more specialist installation, the benefits and longevity on offer make this worthwhile.

At the top end of the market, the products are usually bespoke, and the specification will address all forms of risk against any site.

It is the heightened risk of terrorism and vehicle-borne attacks of recent years that have changed the dynamic of vehicular access control design, with very specific criteria with regard to how end users expect a product to perform. It must also be remembered that many of the products can only deliver the protection expected if they are professionally installed.

One of the most important elements of vehicular access control design is the requirement for a thorough risk assessment. This holds true whether the requirement is for a simple barrier or a bespoke road-blocker that will stop the progress of a large vehicle before it can get within a certain distance of the site’s outer perimeter.

The risk assessment must consider a large number of factors. What is the maximum acceptable penetration into the site? Is the entrance point sited close to sensitive buildings? Can oncoming vehicle speeds be controlled? What volume of traffic is normal to the site? What type of vehicles need to enter/exit? Will pedestrians use the same entrance point? If so, can they do this safely?

The risk assessment must take into account the whole perimeter. There is no benefit in implementing a heavy-duty barrier if a vehicle can simply drive off the road and through a basic wire fence running alongside!

In summary

Vehicular access control is often considered as a secondary layer of protection. However, it is unarguably as important as other layers. The technology can be cost-effective and efficient. Like any other strata of protection, the benefits won’t be realised unless a complete solution is employed.

Vehicular access control will rarely be the first consideration, but in an overall solution, it is an element which is dangerous to ignore!

BENCHMARK
Benchmark is the industry's only publication for installers and integrators which is dedicated to technological innovation and the design and implementation of smarter solutions. With an unrivalled level of experience in technology-based systems, Benchmark delivers independent and credible editorial content.